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Simao to be renamed Pu'er

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Just a few years after the city of Zhongdian was allowed to change its name to Shangri-la, another city in Yunnan is preparing to upgrade to a more recognizable name.

The city of Simao in southern Yunnan has been approved by China's State Council to change its name to Pu'er, no doubt influenced by the growing popularity of pu'er tea in Asia and the rest of the world.

State media outlet Xinhua cites historical and commercial reasons for the name change.

In 1729, during the Qing Dynasty, the area was named Pu'er Tea Zone, with the name altered later to Pu'er County. The name stayed the same until it was renamed Simao in the 1980s.

History aside, Xinhua reports that the city is changing names in an attempt to rebrand itself as the premier source of quality pu'er teas. Pu'er tea has become big business in recent years - half the city's population is involved in the production of the tea, which accounted for 80 million yuan or US$10.25 million in sales in 2006. The city is pushing to ramp up its pu'er tea sales to 500 million yuan by 2010.

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