It is described as a red salt, but it is actually more pinkish or “peach” coloured.
It’s harvested from the Lancang River gorge, on the border with China’s Yunnan province. Production is centred on the village of Yanjing, which means “salt field.” The salt doesn’t come from the River, which is fresh water, nor from the soil in the gorge, but rather from two wells in the gorge which are a natural source of brine (salt water.)
The salt is harvested in Tibet by a matriarchical people called the “Naxi.” The women own and tend the “salt fields.” They do the salt collection; the men maintain the facilities and transport the salt for sale.
The salt is harvested from platforms, covered with smoothly-packed red earth, rising up the sides of the gorge on stilts. Ten to twenty feet (3 to 6 metres) beneath the platforms are shallow man-made pools, lined with the same red earth.
The women carry buckets of water, each weighing about 65 pounds (30 kg), up from the two wells and pour them over the platforms. As the water drizzles through the packed-down soil, pure-white stalactites of salt form underneath the platforms. The women collect these for sale.
The water collects in the pools underneath. The women scoop the water from the pools, and pour it over the platforms one more time. After the second harvest of salt stalactites from under the platforms, the water is allowed to remain in the pools and evaporate. The reddish salt left behind, taking its colour from iron oxides in the earth, is called “Peach Blossom Salt.”
Literature & Lore
Marketing phrases you’ll see describe Peach Blossom Salt as “sea salt” or as being “hauled out of salt mines by yaks”. The first is inaccurate, though understandable; the second might get the marketer in serious trouble if the women heard themselves being described as yaks.