About Us

Our Plantation

Our plantation lies at 2300m in elevation, in very Southwestern corner of China – closer to Myanmar than any major city.

The wind blows in cool and crisp from the Himalayas, the land is irrigated with fresh mountain spring water and the entire area is isolated and clean.

The plantation sits on top of a mountain, meaning there are no farms nearby and the soil is nutrient rich – it has never been farmed before.

Our tea trees thrive among other plants, trees, insects and animals, including apple, pear and walnut trees. There is a lake on the property, with ducks and other birds. You will see the occasional praying mantis lurking in the tea trees, and the birds sing over head while the tea is being picked.

There are no chemicals used here. The local environment lives in harmony as it always has. Rather than propping up struggling plants with environmentally harmful chemical assistance – if a tree is too weak to survive, we will let it die.

We believe clean, healthy trees make clean, healthy tea – and the proof is in the cup.

Although some of the best tea we have drunk comes from this plantation, we sometimes have guest teas from elsewhere too. Guest teas have to meet the criteria below, but we might not stock them in the long term.

Our Tea

Our tea is judged on three important criteria.

To qualify as a Living Leaf Tea, the tea must be chemical free, environmentally responsible and healthy to consume.

If these standards are not met, we will not even consider the tea in the first place.

The 3 criteria our tea is judged on are: Xiang (香), Gan (甘) and Chun (淳).

1) Xiang (香) refers to fragrance and taste. The tea must be delicious, with layers of complexity and aroma in the mouth, on the tongue, the back of the throat and lingering in the cup.

2) Gan (甘) refers to the feeling in the mouth, the lingering sweetness in the back of the throat after drinking and the feeling in the body when drinking tea. Our teas all have a comfortable, gentle energy that feels great even when consumed in high quantities.

3) Chun (淳) refers to clarity and purity. If you check the picture on the left, you will see the liqour is bright, vibrant and clear. It shines in the cup, displaying the life and vigour of the tea before you even come to drink it.

View Our Teas Here

Our Processing

Our plantation is run by master Taiwanese tea producers who emigrated from Taiwan, bringing their genetically strong tea trees and processing technology with them.

After several generations of organic Oolong production in Taiwan, they went looking for truly organic, previously unfarmed land to grow their tea… but they couldn’t find the environmental conditions that met their standards at home in Taiwan.

Only in Yunnan Province – the evolutionary birthplace of tea! – did they find what they were looking for: a 100% organic growing environment, with naturally abundant biodiversity, irrigated by cold, clean spring water and air that blows in from the himalayas.

The plantation is growing many Taiwanese varietals, along with a few mainland China varietals too.

Of interesting note are: Qing Xin, Jinxuan (Golden Lily), Tie Guanyin, Siji Chun (Four Seasons Spring), Tsui Yu (Kingfisher Jade) and Rougui.

Our red tea contains three varietals – golden lily, four seasons spring and kingfisher jade. These three subcultivars bring their own distinctive character and flavour to this tea.

Who Are We?

Living Leaf Tea is run by two friends – Russ Smith and Ed Allistone, who met through the love of tea.

Russell Smith

“I have long been a dedicated tea lover, and in October of last year I had the rare opportunity to visit this incredible organic, biodiverse tea plantation in the mountains of Yunnan, and witness them first hand processing their winter oolong tea.

I went to satisfy my own craving – to track down the healthiest, cleanest and most fresh tea available for my daily consumption. But what I found far exceeded my expectations. When I sat down to drink these teas and realised what an amazing discovery this tea garden is, I just knew I had to share.

I personally drink Living Leaf Teas every single day, and despite being a dedicated tea lover, I do find it hard to fit in teas from other companies these days!”

Russ is currently enjoying: Gong Mei White Tea

Ed Allistone

“I’ve drunk tea all my life. I’m English after all…

But living in Taiwan and China during my early-adult life opened up a new world. I used to spend hours in tea shops talking life and tea.

The tea culture of China and Taiwan was entirely different to anything I’d experienced in the UK. I carry that culture with me and I introduce it to friends back home. But one thing is missing – it’s hard to find the right tea. What I do buy in the UK is too many steps away from the source: it’s either not fresh, not of a high-enough grade or else inconsistent – presumably sourced from different farms depending on price and availability. Despite all the speciality-tea companies that have opened in recent years, I still order directly from Taiwan.

When Russ sent me samples from his local plantation in Dali, there was no question. This tea is right. I was in.”

Ed is currently savouring: Golden Lily Black Tea

If this is your first visit to Living Leaf, we recommend the 3-Tea Sample Pack.

It contains three classic Living Leaf Teas (Roasted Oolong, Oolong and Black) and saves you 10% off the list price if purchased separately.

Click Here To View Our Sample Pack

“Just smelling the leaves before and after steeping – wonderfully fragrant! It’s a really good tea. Will definitely purchase it again”

Verified Purchase: Qing Xin Oolong

Jasmine Ng / Singapore

“Have to say, the purest tea i’ve ever tried! Definitely recommended.”

Verified Purchase: 3-Tea Sample Pack (White, Oolong, Black)

Jorg Bouman / Amsterdam, Netherlands