Yunnan Tea Spotlit in Paris: Tea as a Bond of Friendship between China and France

Yunnan Tea Spotlit in Paris: Tea as a Bond of Friendship between China and France

Tuocha from Xiaguan, a variety of Pu’er tea noted for its history associated with ancient Chinese caravans, has a fragrance that becomes stronger as it ages; black tea from Changning, a lightly fermented tea made of tender leaves of ancient tea trees, allows one, with only a little sip of it, to feel an aura of the dense mountain forests... With the advent of the fifth International Tea Day, the 2024 "Making Yunnan Tea Known Around the World": Promotion of Chinese (Yunnan) Tea Culture in Europe was debuted in Paris, France, on May 21 local time. The amber-colored cups of Yunnan tea, the captivating ethnic dances, and the hand-picked items of intangible cultural heritage allowed the participants to perceive Chinese culture and experience a unique “Yunnan Life” through their senses - sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

The event, with the theme being “Harmony in Diversity”, was organized by the Information Office of the People's Government of Yunnan Province and the Foreign Affairs Office of the People's Government of Yunnan Province. It comprised a launching ceremony, tea promotion activities, a theme concert, a tea salon, a tea poetry seminar, an intangible cultural heritage exhibition, and food tasting, among other activities.

As the melodious music was playing, the artists from Yunnan performed dances typical of the Dai, the Yi, the Hani, and other ethnic groups to present scenes of diligent Yunnan people growing tea trees and gathering and processing tea leaves in mountains cloaked in mist, introducing the guests into the miraculous world of “Oriental Tea.”

As a healthy drink that the world shares, tea originated in China, having its origins in Yunnan. Yunnan is not only the central place of origin for tea trees across the world, but also the main tea-producing region in China, having nearly 600,000 mu of hundred-year-old tea plantations. It leads China in terms of the tea plantation area, tea output, the area of certified green-food tea plantations, the area of certified organic tea plantations, as well as the number of certified tea products. The numerous ethnic groups inhabiting the region, with their wisdom of life, created a wide variety of teas such as Pu’er raw tea, Pu’er ripe tea, and Dianhong tea, from which derived various tea drinking traditions including three-course tea of the Bai, bamboo tube tea of the Dai, the earthen pot tea of the Hani, tea salad of the Jino, oil pounding tea of the Yi, sour tea of the De’ang, and butter tea of the Tibetans.

“Yunnan tea is steeped in history and culture, and has long been renowned for its exceptional quality,” Said Lai Yong, Deputy Director-General of the Information Office of Yunnan Provincial People's Government, in his video speech. He also added that the province is home to the world’s oldest cultivated tea tree, namely, Jinxiu Tea King, which, aged over 3,200, has a trunk 1.84 meters in diameter, so thick that it requires eight people to stretch their arms to enclose. There is the world’s first tea-themed world cultural heritage site - the Old Tea Forests of the Jingmai Mountain in Pu’er that has lasted over a thousand years. He said that the local villagers had guarded the site generation after generation, as they protected their own eyes. Here, the humans live in symbiosis with the tea trees and forests. Friends in European countries are warmly welcomed to travel in Yunnan, enjoying the mellow and elegant fragrance of Yunnan tea and feeling in tea the depth of Chinese notions of “the unity of man and nature” and “harmony in diversity.”


An immersive performance linked the national-level intangible cultural heritage exhibition with the promotion of Yunnan tea culture. The tea promotion activities gave a detailed introduction to the industry, culture, and technological development of Yunnan tea. The exhibition zone featured cultural products associated with tea, such as Huaning pottery, bamboo weaving, rubbing, and the Yunnan Tea Aroma System, leading the guests into a “journey” of Yunnan tea culture. In the experience zone, all kinds of tea drinks and refreshments were available for the guests to taste while talking about friendship and cooperation.

Robert Fopa, Representative of the French Federation of Clubs for UNESCO in Paris and President of the International Association Culture Without Borders (AICSF), called this event “a moment of meeting and sharing.” In exchanges on tea culture, he noted, the peoples of France and China would further be pulled closer.

Carlo Capria, from the official residence of the Prime Minister of Italy, remarked that the event gave European people an opportunity to learn more about Chinese tea culture, and that tea once again demonstrated its extraordinary characteristics on the new Silk Road.

Zhong Cheng, President of the Nouvelles d’Europe Newspaper, highly praised Yunnan tea and its culture and expressed his willingness to have more cooperation with Yunnan to jointly promote Chinese tea culture. He hoped that the Eastern aroma of tea could be shared through the event so that people could experience traditional Chinese culture up close.

Zheng Jinbiao, Executive President of the Association des Chinois Residant en France, noted that tea, as one of the “business cards of China,” was not just an important symbol of the ancient civilization of China but more importantly, a demonstration of friendship between China and France. Through this event, he said, people could have a deeper understanding of the unique charm of Yunnan tea and its culture, enabling tea promotion worldwide.

Following this event in Paris, France, related activities will also be held in Lyon, Brussels, and Rome, among other places, in the next ten days.