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Pu-erh tea was the drink of choice in everyday households, regardless of class until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644CE) when it was abolished from the royal court because of the time it took to manufacture it. It was decreed that only loose leaf tea would be allowed in the royal court.

This changed however, in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), when Emperor Yongzheng ordered that pu-erh tea be used as a tribute tea in the royal court. The administrative district of Pu-erh Fu was established in this area in 1729 AD and it stayed that way until the last emperor served in the Republic of China. Pu-erh and its raw materials from various tea mountains, such as the Six Ancient Tea Mountains, were gathered along the Ancient Tea Route to Pu-erh, and then conveyed by caravan to Beijing, Tibet, Southeast Asia and Europe.

During the period from the latter reign of the Qing Dynasty and the early stage of the Republic of China, economic growth in the Yunnan Region led to a gradual shift in the production from the Six Ancient Tea Mountains on the northern banks of the Mekong River to other tea mountains south of the river centered on Menhai County. They are: Menghai, Mengsong, Nannuo, Nanqiao, Bada and Jingmai.