A Menghai microprinted ticket, first appearing in 2006
Factories are generally responsible for the production of pu-erh teas. While some individuals oversee smaller higher-end productions, such as the Xizihao and Yanqinghao brands, the majority of tea on the market is compressed by factories or tea groups. Until recently, factories were all state owned and under the supervision of the China National Native Produce & Animal Byproducts Import & Export company (CNNP), Yunnan Branch. Kunming Tea Factory, Menghai Tea Factory, Pu'er Tea Factory and Xiaguan Tea Factoryare the most notable of these state owned factories. While CNNP still operates today, few factories are state-owned, and CNNP contracts out many productions to privately owned factories.
Different tea factories have garnered good reputations. Menghai Tea Factory and Xiaguan Tea Factory, which date from the 1940s, have enjoyed good reputations, but these factories now face competition from many of the newly emerging private factories. For example,Haiwan Tea Factory, founded by former Menghai Factory owner Zhou Bing Liang in 1999, enjoys a good reputation, as does Changtai Tea Group, Mengku Tea Company, and other new tea makers formed in the 1990s. However, due to production inconsistencies and variations in manufacturing techniques, the reputation of a tea company or factory can vary depending on the year or the specific cakes produced during a year.
The producing factory is often the first or second item listed when referencing a pu-erh cake, the other being the year of production.[/threecol_one_last]