When some people control the number of steps taken each day, others are addicts forecast for pollution. It is now a ritual, every morning Laurent Boillot checks if it will be able to breathe properly. This habit, he has taken during his many trips to China. Yet his Chinese corner of paradise is still protected. In Yunnan, the green lung of China and teas cradle of humanity Laurent Boillot fell under the spell of a forest which houses the original tea, Pu’er tea special. Convinced that coveted cosmetic potential of tea and fell in love with the unique place, Laurent Boillot will fight for three years to create a new brand within LVMH.
His daring and his convictions pay. Cha Ling is launched in France and Hong Kong early 2016 and enrolled as the first Sino-French cosmetic brand. Surprising as it may seem, this is not to displease our Chinese friends. Explanations of Laurent Boillot, President of Guerlain and Cha Ling.
What was the genesis of the brand?
Cha Ling is primarily the story of an encounter. Meet Joseph Margraf, a German botanist first. It was he who discovered before others this “terra incognita” which grow tea plants forest, away from pollution. It was he who helped me understand that the botanical origin of tea in the world is there, in Yunnan, bordering Myanmar. You should know that this heritage was destroyed to 80% by the transformation of the region and development forced march of rubber cultivation.
There 10 years, Joseph convinced the Chinese government to give him 400 hectares in Yunnan to create its own reserve. He named it “laboratory Rainforestation”.
But how did you meet Joseph?
We made extensive studies on the imperial orchid for Guerlain. It is in this context that I discovered the original forests and the reality of the tea tree is one of the pillars of traditional Chinese medicine. Joseph defended the idea that the quality of tea depends on its biodiversity. Joseph died today. This is his wife, Li-Mingo, who continues his struggle since his death. In 2011, she was looking for funding and it was then that the idea of a new line.
As tea is an antioxidant, I immediately thought that there must be molecules that could be the backbone of a range of cosmetics. Later we discover that tea cakes Pu’er, China’s tea culture, the incredible medicinal properties enable the development of anti-aging actions. Cha Ling was born.
This is the magic of the meeting with Joseph and Mingo-li which helped ignite a spark Cha Ling.
If your idea is so great, why Chinese they have not had before you?
We tend to forget, the Chinese do not trust them. Today, they thank us for being interested in their tea! The notion of transmission is fundamental. The Chinese do not believe in “Made in China” for their own consumption. They prefer to buy abroad. It’s reassuring.
But beware, things change. We are witnessing an explosion of Chinese designers in the field of eg mode. I am convinced that everything will accelerate thanks to their intelligence, their expertise and skills transfer.
There is still a huge paradox between huge cities like Shanghai or Beijing and the ancient forests which you speak. That does not bother you?
China’s ecological consciousness yet little is accomplished. I do not say that the Chinese are perfect, I say that things are changing and there is a real willingness to take into account the environment, especially Yunnan as the green lung of China. It is not impossible that they will one day also beyond reproach environment that the United States polluters …
Do you have other projects with this brand?
Of course ! Our strength is the reality of this story. But in this project, there is still a lot of dreams. I cherish the idea of opening a “retiro” a retirement area hotel & Spa with introduction to meditation.
Your best trip?
I may surprise you. But I have not seen more beautiful world that this forest of Yunnan. Surveying the botanical origin of tea on the planet. It’s an almost supernatural show.