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Puer Tea

Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic

by Jinghong Zhang

Publication Year: 2013

Published by: University of Washington Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

In this fascinating study of Puer tea and the life of rural Chinese and others in Yunnan, we can see many transformations, subtle and dramatic, at work. Jinghong Zhang hails from Yunnan and returns there repeatedly to conduct fieldwork that traces the relationship of Puer tea to the landscape...


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pp. ix-x

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Transliteration, Names, and Measures

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pp. xi-1

In this book, all transcriptions of standard Chinese (Mandarin), including the Yunnan dialects, follow the standard Pinyin romanization system. I have made exceptions for commonly used names, such as Hong Kong; Cantonese terms that have been accepted in English, such as...


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pp. 2-4

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pp. 5-30

Tea has been familiar to me since my childhood in Kunming, Yunnan, in southwest China. At my family’s house there was always a tea jar. We drank tea often, though not necessarily every day or with every meal. Tea more than two years old or so had to be thrown away. As a child, I was taught to make tea whenever a guest came to visit. I would simply put some...


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Chapter 1: "The Authentic Tea Mountain Yiwu"

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pp. 33-54

In January 2007 I passed through Hong Kong on my way from Australia to Yunnan. I decided to stay in Hong Kong for a few days, as I had been told that Puer tea is “produced in Yunnan, stockpiled in Hong Kong, and collected in Taiwan.”...

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Chapter 2: Tensions under the Bloom

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pp. 55-78

I arrived in Yiwu at dusk one day in early March 2007 to start my fieldwork. After four hours on the bus from Jinghong along winding mountain routes, I was tired and hungry. Accommodation was unexpectedly hard to find. Most of the local guesthouses were full, and when I finally found one...


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Chapter 3: "Yunnan: The Home of Puer Tea"

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pp. 81-105

Both Yiwu locals and outsiders talked frequently in March 2007 about an upcoming event that was later regarded as a key factor in the increased price of Puer tea in Yunnan that year. Another tea area to the north of Xishuangbanna called Simao, a subdistrict of Yunnan, was going to change...

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Chapter 4: Heating Up and Cooling Down

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pp. 106-120

When I stayed in Yiwu in 2007, I received many requests from friends in Kunming to bring back some good Puer tea for them. I was happy that more friends were developing an interest in Puer tea, but I also felt uneasy and found this task to be a challenge, since one person’s food might...


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Chapter 5: Puer Tea with Remorse

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pp. 123-142

I returned to Yiwu in September 2007. It was mid-autumn, the other important season for tea harvest. Taking the bus from Jinghong, I arrived in Yiwu in the late afternoon, just as I had in the spring. But something had changed. The main street was obviously quieter. The grocery stores and...

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Chapter 6: Transformed Qualities

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pp. 143-158

After I finished my spring fieldwork in Yiwu at the end of May 2007, I stored a box of clothes and other goods at the local guesthouse, so when I came back in mid-September, my stored possessions had spent most of the wet season there.1 Although I had sealed the box well, a strong smell


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Chapter 7: Tea Tasting and Counter-Tea Tasting

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pp. 161-178

More than fifty people attended a tea-tasting event at a Kunming teahouse in November 2007. The purpose of the event was to discuss whether older tea is better and what kind of storage produces good taste. Sanzui, one of the most influential tea websites in China,1 organized this...

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Chapter 8: Interactive Authenticities

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pp. 179-196

Zongming, a friend from Hong Kong, visited Kunming in December 2007, seven months after the price of tea plummeted. Making use of his holiday, he met in Kunming with friends he had communicated with on the tea website Sanzui. The participants on Sanzui lived in almost every...

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Conclusion: An Alternative Authenticity

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pp. 197-204

Puer tea has been packaged into a popular beverage that has attracted the fascination of many people in twenty-first century China. Its packaged values, in turn, have been debated, counterpackaged, and reinterpreted by multiple actors. The packaging process contains several parallel narratives...

Appendix 1: Puer Tea Categories and Production Process

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pp. 205-209

Appendix 2: Supplementary Videos

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p. 210-210


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pp. 211-218


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pp. 219-226


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pp. 227-242


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pp. 243-249

E-ISBN-13: 9780295804873
E-ISBN-10: 0295804874
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295993225
Print-ISBN-10: 0295993227

Publication Year: 2013