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AT THE HEART OF A PRESERVED WORLD,
THE ORIGINS OF CHA LING

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Lao Tseu
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It all starts in Yunnan Province, the green lung of China; “on the very edge of the very edge”. In this remote place, far from any pollution or chemical contamination, luscious landscapes fade in and out through the haze as far as the eye can see, generating wonder and delight.

Entering this green lung, we discover the region of Xishuangbanna, the ‘kingdom of the plants’, which shelters some of the oldest forests of tea plants, whose leaves are used to make teas that are considered among the best in the world. We are in the world’s largest source of tea, at the heart of the forests producing Pu’Er tea – the original tea. These large tea plants, the only ones of their kind in the world, grow freely in the shadow of giant oaks, chestnut trees and bamboos and often grow to over 3 metres in height.

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They have been nurtured, cared for and pruned in the form of small trees for 5,000 years. The oldest examples in these managed forests are now approaching 3,000 years of age. And it is the Bulang people we must thank for this! For generations this Buddhist minority, among the oldest in Yunnan, has been cultivating the tea plant forests and harvesting the leaves at the start and end of the rainy season – in the spring and autumn. They perpetuate the method known as planting under the forest, which also involves protecting the species that surround the tea plants, because it is the entire ecosystem that promotes the growth of leaves used to make this coveted tea: genuine Pu’er forest tea.

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 A CHINESE JEWEL IN DANGER
This natural jewel, – a region unique in the world, is a region threatened by disruption and disappearance. The protection of the tea trees forests has become the struggle of two people, Josef Margraf and Minguo-Li Margraf. German biologist known for his work on biodiversity, in 2000, Josef Margraf discovered this ‘terra incognita’; the region of Yunnan. Driven by a sense of wonder, but also by the urgent need to protect this precious region from property development or the extension of terrace tea plantations, he decided to make this Asian jewel his home. In 2004, with his wife Minguo-Li, a young Chinese journalist who he had encountered during an interview, he founded the TianZi Biodiversity Research & Development Centre. Together, they decided to revive forest tea production to save this natural enclave, increase the resources of local minority communities and preserve their cultural and spiritual heritage. They put into practice a new cultivation method, named ‘Rainforestation Farming’. Their aim was to recreate a forest with its entire ecosystem, to enable species to flourish with each other and to draw strength from that interaction, and to make that forest a source of diverse production and a genuine economic asset.

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THE BIRTH OF CHA LING

 “It took the magic of meetings, established relationships, a magnificent location, shared values and a lot of synchronicity to create the spark.”

Passionate about Chinese culture, an aesthetic soul and a nature lover, Laurent Boillot, the CEO of Guerlain (LVMH Group), first met Josef and Minguo-Li on a trip to China.Like them, he was astounded by the extraordinary beauty of the rainforest, “where the unexpected grows constantly”, the simplicity of local objects and the purity of the ceramics. He shared their desire to preserve this unparalleled landscape and the three of them formed a friendship, which was strengthened over time by shared values and ideals.
So he asked himself a question. Why could the hidden treasures of this region not become part of preserving and publicising it? The solution became evident: he must create a line of cosmetics based on Pu’Er tea, from which part of the profit would be used to preserve these millennia-old forests.
For more than three years, he mobilised the power of the LVMH Group. At the heart of Cosmetic Valley,scientists scrutinised and expanded their knowledge of the extraordinary cosmetic properties of the leaves of Pu’Er forest tea. Recording discovery after discovery about this exceptional ingredient, they provided the scientific validation and confirmation that Laurent Boillot had been awaiting: Pu’Er tea does indeed possess unique properties – to an even greater extent than he had imagined. This powerful antioxidant also acts as an anti-pollutant and anti-ageing substance once it has matured. Boillot thus imagined a new skincare brand, in which the active ingredients of authentic Pu’er forest teas would become beauty resources.

AND THUS, ON 12.12.2012, CHA LING, THE SPIRIT OF TEA, WAS BORN
A cosmetics house, certainly, but also a house to shelter Josef and Minguo’s dream. What they wanted above all was to protect the purity of this region and the quality and effectiveness of the unique active ingredient that it contains: Pu’Er forest tea. By creating CHA LING, Laurent Boillot brought that commitment to life. He ensured that sustainable development and the CHA LING charter would contribute to preserving the tea plant forests of Yunnan, the source of Pu’Er tea and its pure and miraculous ingredients. To make this dream a reality, the brand, from the very first day, began to push back the limits of sustainable development and make it the foundation of its position. A true ‘eco-born’ house, CHA LING, the Spirit of Tea, brings this dream to life and gives meaning to beauty.