The ancient tea trees in Suoi Giang

VietNamNet Bridge - Situated at an altitude of nearly 1,400 meters above sea level, through the winding but fascinating road, Suoi Giang (Van Chan district, Yen Bai province) appears in front of visitors with the oldest tea trees in Vietnam.

ancient tea tree, suoi giang, shan tuyet tea

Ancestor of tea?

"I have travelled across 120 countries which have tea trees in the world but I’ve not seen anywhere there are perennial tea trees like those in Suoi Giang. Whether this is the place where the tea tree came from--the tea here is unique. In the bowl of green tea there are all the 18 tastes of the top tea types in the world," Academican of the USSR Academy of Sciences – Mr. MK Djemukhatze wrote in the visitor’s book of Suoi Giang since 1960.

This scientist also made a research work on Suoi Giang tea plants and published in book in 1976. Accordingly, Djemukhatze confirmed that the Vietnamese tea trees in Suoi Giang are the ancestor trees.

In Yen Bai, the Mong people account for large numbers and they have made the specific culture for this Northwestern region. Particularly with Suoi Giang, their presence from the early days associated with the appearance of Shan Tuyet tea – the tea species that Djemukhatze researched.

Also, because of the unique flavor and shape of the tree, there are pretty many thrilling verbal stories around the Suoi Giang tea trees.

According to legends, the first day emigrating to Suoi Giang, after many days crossing streams and hills, people were exhausted and when they lied to relax, they saw after eating the strange leaves, that birds sang very well. These people immediately picked the leaves to eat and immediately felt cheerful and healthy again.

They chose this place to settle and the tea trees have since been preserved and protected and gradually become the specialty of this region. Although it is only a legend, the story also illustrates the uniqueness of Shan Tuyet tea.

Called Shan Tuyet tea, as being explained by local people, with a special processing technique, the fresh tea buds which as big as banian buds, coated with lanugo, after being processed are still big, covered with a milky layer of “snow,” shiny, aromatic scents, along with a smoke inhalation, so it is called Shan Tuyet (snow). When drinking, the tongue will feel the bitter sweet taste and then the persistent sweetness in the throat.

If visitors go to Suoi Giang in the tea harvesting and processing season, they will smell a characteristic flavor of this tea region. Due to the special climate here, locals do not have to use any kind of pesticides because insects cannot develop. In the winter, there is no sun and fog covers the entire region. The tea buds are also covered by fog and you will feel a biting cold on their fingers when they pick tea buds.

Suoi Giang’s ancient Shan Tuyet tea has been traditionally considered one of the most delicious drinks from tea products from all tea regions of the country.

The tea trees here are over 300 years old. Their trunks and buds are very big, which make them different from other types of tea. Shan Tuyet tea varieties converges all three factors: aroma, strong taste and blue water. Especially, the tea, from harvest until processing, is produced by manual methods of the Mong ethnic people here.


Ancient Shan Tuyet tea trees are covered with pale moss and sometimes white mold, plus their wining spikes but the leaves are deep green, creating a natural beauty that everyone loves. For that reason, Suoi Giang has become a tourist attraction. It is known that the area of Shan Tuyet tea is roughly 400 hectares, of which the area of ancient tea trees of over 300 years old is nearly 300 hectares.

Every year, the people here organize a ceremony to worship the ancient tea trees. However, the charm of these ancient tea trees has become very dangerous when some people are determined to take an ancient tea tree home as a bonsai tree. The number of ancient tea trees, therefore, is being reducing.

Moreover, the conservation of this precious tea variety is all a matter because tea is not a great resource of income of local people. The local authorities do not have a long-term conservation plan of this precious genetic resource. Thus the oldest tea trees are leaving Suoi Giang.

The investment in turning Shan Tuyet tea into a strong brand is also not implemented yet.

Mai Lan
ancient tea tree, suoi giang, shan tuyet tea