By Arthur Tam
What’s not to love about tea? It’s full of antioxidants, benefits medicinally, helps us connect socially and part of our Chinese history. Angela Shum, brand general manager of sustainable skincare brand Cha Ling agrees and is a big fan of pu’er – the key ingredient in the brand’s product. ‘The anti-ageing properties of our pu’er is twice as powerful when compared to green tea,’ she says. ‘Our product combines both fresh pu'er and aged pu’er, which is harvested from a 1,800-year-old tea tree dating back to the Tang Dynasty. When tea ages, it becomes more potent and more precious like wine.”
The pu’er referred to by Shum originates from the rainforest in the Xishuangbanna region of Yunnan, and is indeed very precious. Only 1% of tea leafs in the market are harvested from ancient forest tea trees. The tea you and I drink usually comes from mass produced tea tree fields, terrace tea, where the plant is about waist-high in height and is a product of replicating one tree from the crop. However, the trees that Cha Ling sources are naturally occurring, have diverse genetic characteristic and grow to be about 6 meters in height in the forest.
It's here, that Cha Ling has a tea garden project in 20 hectares, responsible for rainforest replantation. This is all part of a social initiative to work with the local minority group to preserve their cultural heritage, revitalise a much-depleted rainforest and spread awareness of conservation and sustainability.
‘We are trying to prove that you can have an eco-friendly luxury brand,’ says Shum. ‘Unlike businesses that work on ‘buy a product and we’ll grow one tree’, we just keep planting. Since 2013, we’ve already planted 120,000 trees, mostly tea trees as well as other plants to maintain the biodiversity of the ecosystem.’
What’s also remarkable about Cha Ling is they are a non-advertising brand. "All of the budgets go back toward reforestation, sustainability and education”, says Shum. “We work with the tribes and help them achieve organic certification for the pu’er tea tree that we harvest. It took three years, but in 2017 we received certification from the ECOCERT. We also do everything we can to reduce environmental impact. Our bath products are 100 percent biodegradable formula, we minimise the number of ingredients in our products and we reduce unnecessary marketing and packaging materials. All these little steps add up.”
Cha Ling’s latest initiative will be a collaboration with The Refinery, Taikoo Place’s new private members’ club. will soon able to enjoy Cha Ling products and there will also be an event introducing a range of Cha Ling products as well as tea tasting, pairing and appreciation workshops..
Shum’s recommended products:
Relieving eye mask: “Stuffed with tea and other key ingredients like hyaluronic acid, the two, soft pillow resting on your eyes will remove puffiness, soothe and moisturise for a more youthful appearance. Just dip the mask in water and put it on. To enjoy it to the fullest, highly recommend to also lay down and relax for 10 minutes. We complement the mask with a meditation programme that you can download to your phone and listen to. This is how I take time for myself.”
Preparing Mist Lotion: “This is great for office workers. Sitting under the AC can be very dehydrating, but this mist acts as a veil that will moisturise your skin and set your makeup. Just spray in the morning or midday.”
Spring Mask: “This mask is all about brightening, anti-pollution and anti-ageing. We also offer a special facial tool for you to try different acupressure gestures (gua sha) that help to lift up your face, create that V-shape and drain excessive fluid. It’s good for after work when your face might get a bit puffy.”
Click here to check out where to find Cha Ling’s beauty products.
Need more skincare tips for all the stress you endure at work? Read our story on office skincare here.