The city of Libourne in Bordeaux, and Pu'er, a tea producing region of China, have signed a trade agreement to promote each other's products.
]‘Many similarities to wine…’ A Pu’er tea garden
Libourne is the closest city to the Pomerol and Saint Emilion vineyards; Pu’er in the Yunnan province of southwest China is renowned for its high-quality teas.
Two Chinese delegations have visited Libourne since the accord was signed last month, while the mayor of Libourne and the presidents of the wine syndicates of Saint Emilion, Pomerol, Lalande-de-Pomerol and Fronsac, have been to Yunnan to learn about tea culture.
The driving force behind the agreement was Hervé Cayla, vice-chairman of the French Chamber of Commerce in Beijing.
‘There are many similarities between the two products,’ Philippe Buisson, mayor of Libourne, told Decanter.com.
‘Pu’er tea is harvested by hand each year, is labelled with a vintage, and can be aged for up to 50 years. Its taste is affected by the soil it is grown in, and the weather conditions during the year of harvest.’
Tea can also be fermented, with bacteria converting bitter tastes to softer, rounder flavours, in a process very similar to malolactic fermentation in wine, he said.
Pu’er tea is known for being rich in polyphenols, and is said to have health benefits in much the same way as the French Paradox is said to be linked to polyphenols in wine, Buisson added.
The finest teas can reach prices as high as the best wines of Pomerol and Saint Emilion, with 200g of the most sought-after examples reaching up to €1,200. Both regions can date local production of their product back well over 1,000 years.
To mark the agreement, in 2013 a Maison du Vin will open in Pu’er City to showcase the wines of Pomerol, Lalande-de-Pomerol, Fronsac, Saint Emilion and its satellites Montagne, Lussac, Puisseguin and Saint Georges.
At the same time, a salon de thé showcasing the range of Pu’er teas will run during the Vinexpo wine fair in Bordeaux in June 2013.
The salon will be in Libourne, and there are discussions to make it a permanent feature of the city. At the same time, conferences, tasting workshops and research programmes are planned.
‘We understand how important export markets are to our local producers,’ said Buisson, ‘and equally we hope Libourne can become the European centre and shop window for the teas of Pu-er.’
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux