We spent some considerable time in Mengku, learned a lot and even got to partake in the water splashing festival, aka 泼水节.
1, 2, 3 - Visited some tea gardens in Dahusai and nearby in Mengku. One of the gardens was enduring a struggle as it recently stopped being fed fertilizer. While there was still plenty of growth and the tea could be harvested, it was the tea tree equivalent of when an athletes gets busted for steroids and just doesn't look or perform the same afterwards. The leaves were drier, yellower, and overall struggling to pump nutrients to their many buds. Still, it's the right action to taks, as unassisted/fangyang trees tend to produce results.
Meanwhile our Dai friend decided to pose for us and help pick a bit of tea. Don't be fooled though, this is not a typical tea picking outfit!
4, 5, 6 - The water splashing festival is a huge deal for the Dai people throughout southern Yunnan and the neighboring countries, including Thailand. Everyone is armed with giant water guns or buckets, and if you're a visible foreigner, then you're an even more noticeable target. We decided to seek cover once we saw 2 young girls fill up buckets with gutter water and start running towards us.
7 - Lastly, we had sone knowledge dropped on us by a producer in Dahusai who used to be the lead technician for over 20 years for the Shuangjiang tea factory. We've learned alot from travelling, drinking and meeting new people over the last few years. But if you ever start thinking you know it all and need to be humbled, just find someone who's been doing it much longer and hear what they have to say. Several woks of frying and many gaiwans full of maocha later, our understanding of processing was much better, but there's always more to learn.