Gushu literally means “Ancient Tree” in Chinese. Nowadays, a tea tree over 100 years old is often considered gushu. In the stricter sense, gushu must be more than 300 years old and is growing in the unfrequented mountain forest. Now the question is, apart from the age, what is special about gushu? First let’s see what other kinds of tea trees there are for pu erh.
It refers to the pu erh made of raw materials picked from the modern cultivated tea gardens. In terms of volume of production, garden tea definitely wins. These trees are shorter with high planting density, while the tea leaves are smaller and thinner.
Wild arbor (qiao mu)
It refers to pu erh tea made of fresh leaves coming from Yunnan large leaf tea trees. Gushu is actually wild trees with older age. Because of its height, tea farmers need to climb up the trees to pick the leaves. The appearance of wild arbor tea leave is thick and stout. In general, wild arbor tea tastes more mellow with a more pronounced aftertaste.
Gushu are mainly distributed in the traditional tea regions in xishuangbanna, Pu’er city and Lincang city in Yunnan province. Most of the gushu only harvest once a year, which makes tea products from gushu more and more valuable in the pu erh market.
Tea products from gushu can be regarded as one of the world’s greenest drinks. The reason why ancient tea trees can survive this long is because that they lay the roots in in the most fertile areas without pollution from chemical fertilisers and pesticides. With large tree trunks and deep roots, gushu can efficiently absorb nutrients from the soil that results in large and thick leaves.
The taste of gushu tea is gentle yet full of depth. Its chaqi doesn’t faint even after multiple steepings.
The aftertaste of gushu shows in two parts: the first part is the actual taste which is sweet and lingering, the second part is that the whole body will feel relaxed with freshness.
How to Avoid Fake Gushu?
Because the price difference between real gushu and common garden tea is very large, some tea producers will take advantage of this. Some will label the leaves from young tea trees or garden tea as gushu and sell for a higher markup.
There’s no real way to avoid this. Though, you should avoid teas with prices that look too good to be true. A gushu teas over 10 years old shouldn’t be cheaper than 400 USD, and probably much more if you’re buying it from resellers. If you do want to invest in gushu, our advice is to find younger gushu. Fresh gushu should be purchased for 40-100 USD a cake, depending on who you buy from. And they’ll slowly increase in price over the years.
The key is to forget about gushu as a quality classification, and to focus purely on the taste. That’s what matters!