Tea Adventures

Journeys of the Tea Buyer to places of origin For more info: Teance.com

A reminder to me of what’s really important in life: boarding my plane with 50 Buddhist monks. May all my delusions cease…..

My idol Bruce Lee, reincarnated as a fast food chain. These Kungfu fast food chains are considerably better than KFC or McD’s, and Panda Express belongs even farther on the spectrum. Still, the man who can do one handed three finger push-ups and is too fast to be captured on film, must be feeling amused. 
Next to that: the now ubiquitous Starbucks. 
Today: finally heading back to Hong Kong, the first half of my harvest trip wrapping up.

My idol Bruce Lee, reincarnated as a fast food chain. These Kungfu fast food chains are considerably better than KFC or McD’s, and Panda Express belongs even farther on the spectrum. Still, the man who can do one handed three finger push-ups and is too fast to be captured on film, must be feeling amused.
Next to that: the now ubiquitous Starbucks.
Today: finally heading back to Hong Kong, the first half of my harvest trip wrapping up.

Ate at the farms with the families most of the times, so not much food to report. The meal with the government officials though, had this spectacular soft tofu freshly made and in its wooden tube, that you can ladle in 3 kinds of sauces. Tofu tastes like tofu here in China like no where else. 
Conversation at dinner: how to make better Chinese liquor for export. IMHO, Chinese alcohol is at the other extreme of Chinese tea. The baijiu 白酒 is the most vile ‘vodka’ imaginable, the Mal Tai just burns, wuliangye 五糧液 smells like a NY subway drunk, the rice wine tastes either sweet like syrup or bland, the beer is basically water. The grape wines? Acidic, flat, no aroma.  The tea is sublime. The alcohol is good to throw up with.
I didn’t share my opinion with the government officials. I said why not make a Tieguanyin alcohol. They thought it was a great idea they hadn’t thought of. 
Really? They didn’t notice their alcohol could stand improvement any imaginable way possible?

Ate at the farms with the families most of the times, so not much food to report. The meal with the government officials though, had this spectacular soft tofu freshly made and in its wooden tube, that you can ladle in 3 kinds of sauces. Tofu tastes like tofu here in China like no where else.
Conversation at dinner: how to make better Chinese liquor for export. IMHO, Chinese alcohol is at the other extreme of Chinese tea. The baijiu 白酒 is the most vile ‘vodka’ imaginable, the Mal Tai just burns, wuliangye 五糧液 smells like a NY subway drunk, the rice wine tastes either sweet like syrup or bland, the beer is basically water. The grape wines? Acidic, flat, no aroma. The tea is sublime. The alcohol is good to throw up with.
I didn’t share my opinion with the government officials. I said why not make a Tieguanyin alcohol. They thought it was a great idea they hadn’t thought of.
Really? They didn’t notice their alcohol could stand improvement any imaginable way possible?

We refuse to carry any certified organic teas that do not meet our taste standards。 Besides the fact that certifying ‘organic’ means a lot of cost and most farms like Mr. Lin’s can not afford to, the fact that they are de facto organic, we feel that it is far more important.

Luckily though, Mr. Lin and his vast family, including many serving as government officials, were able to get all the EU, JAS( Japan’s), both very strict certifications. USDA means little to us regarding tea, but those other two are important to have. So here it is, great quality, high mountain grown, produced by nice families, AND certified organic. Mr. Lin was an M.D. for 7 years before switching back to tea. What illnesses do the villagers have? I asked. Not much, he said, so I had no business as a doctor! Only in a tea village would a doctor not be able to make a living…..

Location, location, location. Grown on narrow ledges, Mr. Lin’s farm on the mountain top is pristinely full of organic matter, like bamboo husks, weeds to be hand pulled, wild flowers. The wind put through is quite strong, a little known locational advantage against bugs. Mountain streams trickle down. Iron rich soil is another natural environmental factor for his superior crops. Still too young for harvest, the leaflets will need to grow another 2 weeks.

I rarely post any photos of myself but my staff complain. ‘How will customers know you were there?’
If not me, who would be crazy enough? But anyway, here it is. With the fabulous Golden Guanyin tea bushes ( fertilized by duck poop? no, cow dung, said Mr. Lin. Even better flavor!).

Shang Dong peak, Mr. Lin’s bio organic farm growing Golden Guanyin and other varietals

No one appreciates my fowl photos, but what is farm life without them milling around under your feet all day?

Late night at the farm. Suddenly, everyone realized that what I said was true- you don’t actually get to buy property in China, it’s called ‘leasing’ in the rest of the world.  However, one is told by the Communist government that one is purchasing, so down payment, mortgage, renovations etc are all yours to pay. Then the government gets to repossess it by year 50/60/70. So how is that ownership?

The more everyone thought about it, the worst the mood. Out came the Mal Tai, the rice wine, the domestic red table wine, and the snake soup. A round of cigarettes later and everyone is less depressed about being Chinese.

Late night at the farm. Suddenly, everyone realized that what I said was true- you don’t actually get to buy property in China, it’s called ‘leasing’ in the rest of the world. However, one is told by the Communist government that one is purchasing, so down payment, mortgage, renovations etc are all yours to pay. Then the government gets to repossess it by year 50/60/70. So how is that ownership?

The more everyone thought about it, the worst the mood. Out came the Mal Tai, the rice wine, the domestic red table wine, and the snake soup. A round of cigarettes later and everyone is less depressed about being Chinese.

There’s a lot of idle time at the farm when it’s not peak season yet. Here at Anxi, peak harvest and production season won’t really start for another 2 weeks, waiting for the leaves to grow a bit more mature. There’s a lot of standing around, sitting and drinking tea and smoking and shooting the breeze. Often neighbors will drop in and sit and not say a word. Mr. Lin, formerly the village doctor, is attempting to do the all natural farm, including using no chemical fertilizers. His Red Guanyin and Golden Robe saw their first appearance in the US with us last year. This year, we hope to ask him to tweak and custom make those teas for us a bit, adjusting fire levels and depth.
Here at 赤石 Red Rock Village where a Tieguanyin was first discovered by a fellow villager in the early 1700s, every family is related and everyone makes tea.