Longstanding debate about the origin of tea has finally been settled.

The debate over the birthplace of tea is has been a hot issue for years. But the argument may well be over with the naming of China's Pu'er City as the origin of the famous beverage.

The International Tea Committee has granted the honorary title of the "Tea Source of the World" to Pu'er, ending disputes over the issue.

Huang Guishu, former head and researcher of the Administrative Institute of Historic Relics in Pu'er, says China was chosen as the "motherland" of tea trees throughout the world because physical evidence of five significant species of tea trees are all found in Pu'er.

"The first is the Jinggu wide-leaf magnolia fossil, which can be dated back to the Oligocene of the Tertiary period about 35.4 million years ago – and is currently kept at the Pu'er City Museum," he says.

"The second is a Chinese magnolia fossil from the Miocene of the Tertiary period, about 25m years ago. It was found in seven counties in Yunnan Province," says Huang.

The third is the large wild tea tree, 25.6 meters high and more than 2700 years old at Qianjiazhai Village, Zhenyuan County, a tree which also won entry in the Guinness Book of Records.

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The fourth species is the Bangwei transitional ancient tea tree which is 11.8m high and over 1000 years old in Lancang County. It is a transitional tea tree which the ancient Pu people domesticated and cultivated and still lives.

The last species is the 10,000-mu cultivated ancient tea plantation, situated at Mangjing on Jingmai Mountain of Lancang County. It is a primitive ecological tea plantation that has been passed down from ancient Pu people living in Pu'er City down to their descendants – Blang and Dai people.

It is 1800 years old and currently covers an area of about 20 sq km. In 2012, it was approved as a world agricultural heritage by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

So, Huang says, the title of the birthplace of tea was bestowed because of those five important development stages of tea trees: wide-leaf magnolia, Chinese magnolia , wild tea tree, transitional tea tree and cultivated tea tree.

Content sourced from the People's Daily Online here