Geographical indication of “Hà Giang” for Shan tuyết tea protected
A Geographical Indication (GI) is a name or sign which identifies goods as having a specific geographical origin, and possessing qualities, reputation, or characteristics that are essentially attributable to products from that place of origin. GIs have been recognised in Vietnam since the promulgation of the Vietnam IP Law in 2005. Per Article 4.22 of the Vietnam IP Law in 2005, “A geographical indication means a sign which identifies a product as originating from a specific region, locality, territory or country”. Vietnam has over fifteen years of experience in GI protection, and GIs are considered an important tool for socio-economic development in the country.
The National Office of Intellectual Property of Viet Nam has recently issued the Decision No. 2835/QD-SHTT on granting Geographical Indication Registration Certificate No. 00069 for “Hà Giang” Shan tuyết tea. Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Hà Giang Province is the organization in charge of managing this GI.
Hà Giang is the northernmost province of Việt Nam, and has the third largest tea production area of the country after Lâm Đồng and Thái Nguyên provinces. Hà Giang is known for popular tourism spots, unique cultural festivals and the special Shan tuyết tea. Shan tuyết tea trees here grows naturally into forests, with ancient trees at hundreds of years old, without any needs for tending, fertilizers and pesticides. Hà Giang Shan tuyết tea buds are full of life, with bright silver fur on the surface. Growing and developing along Tây Côn Lĩnh ridge, being covered in fog and mist all year round, where the Dao and the H’Mông ethnics reside, Shan tuyết tea has become an integral part in the lives of the locals. The population of 220 ancient Shan tuyết tea trees representing the tea area of Cao Bồ, Hà Giang province has been recognized as a Heritage of Việt Nam. The recognition plays a major role in protecting gene pool of the renowned tea of the mountains. According to local people, the delicious taste of the tea is gifted by the mist. The tea is exposed to the snow from crystallized mist and thus called “tuyết” (snow) tea. The processing of Shan tuyết tea is a convergence of the essence of the earth, water and the warmth of fire. As a result, the tea is not only aromatic but also helps the drinker feel awakened, fresh and healthier.
In the old days, this kind of tea used to be served to French officials and was highly appreciated by them, as told by the people of Hoàng Su Phì district. However, Hà Giang Shan tuyết tea was not known until researchers, tourists from within and outside of the country came to this rural mountainous province to learn, research, discover such a high quality tea. They were told to bring the tea back to the cities and it was well received by the consumers.
The fact that Hà Giang Shan tuyết tea was presented to President Xi Jinping by General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng has confirmed the quality and reputation of Hà Giang Shan tuyết tea.
Hà Giang Shan tuyết tea possesses distinctive appearance and quality. It is easily noticeable from the consistent colour and size. The buds are young and rough, tightly twisted, silver (snow)-tipped, and the leaves are big and round. When brewed, the tea is shiny with distinctive eye-catching yellowish green colour, natural aroma, a light bitter taste and sweet aftertaste. It is a perfect combination of the taste and the aroma. The quality of Hà Giang Shan tuyết tea is shown by its biochemical criteria, specifically: total ash content from 4.87% to 6,49%, tannin content from 27.22% to 38.88%, caffeine content from 2.30% to 4.19%, the percentage of diluted ash in total ash content from 58.31% to 66.52%, extract content from 38.32% to 47,79%.
Hà Giang Shan tuyết tea is the combination of aroma, taste, freshness and pureness. This peculiarity is created thanks to the cool climate, the fog and mist covering the tea all year round, etc. and the completely organic cultivation practice of the local farmers.
The area’s terrain is of the high mountains with the altitude of 600 meter and above, and the inclination of 8 – 30 degree. The terrain structure is highly complex, specifically with the medium-high mountain, where the altitude is over 1,000 meter of the granite mountains of Chảy River’s upstream, and the low mountain terrain of the altitude of 600 – 1,000 meter formed mostly by magma rock, sedimentary rock and metamorphic rock. The cultivation area of Shan tuyết tea resides in the humid tropical climate, under the influence of the monsoons. The annual average temperature is 15.7 – 22.6 degree Celsius. The average temperature decreases as the altitude rises, and it is especially low in the high mountains. The average amplitude of temperature variance between day and night is 6.8 – 8.6 degree Celsius. The annual average rainfall is 1,692 – 2,430mm, mostly seen in May to October, which accounts up to 70 – 80% of the year’s rainfall. The annual average humidity is 80 – 86%. Frost mist and hailstorms rarely happen, and thus do not significantly affect the production of the locals. Hà Giang Shan tuyết tea is grown on yellow-red soil on shale (Fs), humus yellow-red soil on shale (Hs), yellow-red soil on granite (Fa), and humus yellow-red soil on granite (Ha). The soil’s mechanical composition is from light silt to heavy silt. The soil is highly acidic with the pHKCL value of 3.95 – 4.36, the content of organic matters (OM) is from average to rich.
The distinctiveness in growing, tending, cultivation and processing of Shan tuyết tea in combination with the natural and historic factors has attributed to the outstanding quality of Hà Giang Shan tuyết tea. Thanks to favourable natural conditions, the use of pesticides and growth stimulants are not employed. In addition to the traditional cultivation process, Hà Giang locals think that: “Shan tea does not require tending, it takes the mist of the nights, the sunlight of the early mornings to grow, and its leaves are green throughout four seasons”. To prevent pests and diseases, the farmers employ manual methods or make biological pesticides from lime and pomelo skin, garlic, pepper, etc. In Hà Giang, the farmers also keep the special long-held tradition of not cultivating the tea on these three days in the lunar calendar: Day of the Thunder God (March 1st), Day of the Wind God (January 20th), and Day of the Wild Boars (March 3rd).
Thanks to favourable natural conditions and the traditional production method of the locals, Hà Giang Shan tuyết tea is considered a “Green” tea, as the raw leaves from living Shan tuyết tea trees are completely natural, and are processed organically without chemicals nor additives; and a “Good” tea, as it possesses a natural aromatic scent from secret technique, a clear and green brew water, and a long lasting sweet aftertaste.
The geographical area for growing and processing Hà Giang Shan tuyết tea consists of: communes of Tân Thành, Tân Lập, Tiên Kiều, Đức Xuân of Bắc Quang district; Tiên Nguyên, Xuân Minh, Tân Trịnh, Tân Bắc, Tân Nam, Yên Bình, Bản Rịa, Yên Thành of Quang Bình district; Nà Chì, Quảng Nguyên, Khuôn Lùng, Cốc Rế, Chế Là, Thu Tà, Bản Ngò, Nấm Dẩn, Tả Nhìu, Nàn Xỉn, Ngán Chiên of Xín Mần district; Túng Sán, Nậm Khòa, Thông Nguyên, Nam Sơn, Nậm Ty, Hồ Thầu, Nậm Dịch, Bản Luốc, Tả Sử Choóng, Bản Péo, Bản Nhùng of Hoàng Su Phì district; Cao Bồ, Thượng Sơn, Quảng Ngần, Phương Tiến, Thanh Thủy, Thanh Đức, Xín Chải, Lao Chải of Vị Xuyên district; Phương Độ, Phương Thiện of Hà Giang city, Hà Giang province.
Resources: The National Office of Intellectual Property