Good Tea, Bad Tea
Good Puer Tea is made in a small factory
Large tea factories (like Dayi, Xiaguan, Haiwan, and Mengku) do make good products, but they would be hard-pressed to make excellent products.
You may ask why.
First of all, they have to produce a large volume to meet the market demand. Different grade raw tea leaves from different tea growing regions are mixed. They could not afford to follow the traditional tea production process. For example, fresh tea leaves are not sun dried, but baked dry in a machine, which most likely has a negative effect on the quality of the tea made. Big manufacturers can afford a high marketing budget to boost their product sales.
For example, there is no doubt that Banzhang Mountain is always the Pu-erh favorite. However, the vast amount of so-called Banzhang Pu-erh on the market raised a question about their authenticity. According to local people, annual productions of Banzhang tea leaves are only about 6,000 to 8,000 kg. This means that at 400g each, only 15,000 to 20,000 cakes can be made of real Banzhang leaves. The major characteristic of Banzhang Pu-erh is its strength. Banzhang Pu-erh is the strongest among those popular tea mountains. Unless you know what you are doing, maybe this is not something you would buy anywhere but from an authentic source?
It's a fact that some small tea factories make excellent teas.
Excellent raw tea leaves are usually available in small quantity; they are supposed to be picked from these old wild trees in 6 famous tea mountains. The naturally organic tea leaves are plucked, panned and kneaded, and then sun-dried in an open field, a process adopted hundreds years ago. Small tea factories are always shy from big marketing hype because of their limited budget, so they are less known to average tea drinkers.
On the other hand, some small fly by night tea factories do make some questionable products so you have to watch out.