Tea Adventures

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

Every year, we take one group of tourists to Taiwan in a ‘Follow the Teabuyer Tour’. This year we will be including Wuyi Mountain as well. Professional baristas, sommeliers, Food and Beverage folks, or simply tea aficionados, join us from far and wide. We visit with and make selections of our winter oolong crop during these buying trips, and guests get to come along and experience it all first hand: the terroir, the artisans, the agriculture, the production, the culture and food. And best of all, drinking the freshly made tea at location!

Register at http://www.teance.com/Upcoming-Events-s/335.htm
Last Friday, we held the annual rare and antique Pu-Erh tasting event. It was a bloodletting occasion. You see, fewer and fewer truly aged Pu-erhs are out in the market, and there’s no way to replenish a piece if history. Pu-Erh that I have had since the 60s witness the last 50 years of weather, people, and location challenges that will never be repeatable, producing a singular taste all its own. But sharing tea is what I am about, for without this sharing, tea is much less meaningful. Against this quandary, I uncave the oldest and the best to share with folks each year, because if you don’t share what is most valuable to you, then what is the meaning of sharing at all?

Last Friday, we held the annual rare and antique Pu-Erh tasting event. It was a bloodletting occasion. You see, fewer and fewer truly aged Pu-erhs are out in the market, and there’s no way to replenish a piece if history. Pu-Erh that I have had since the 60s witness the last 50 years of weather, people, and location challenges that will never be repeatable, producing a singular taste all its own.
But sharing tea is what I am about, for without this sharing, tea is much less meaningful. Against this quandary, I uncave the oldest and the best to share with folks each year, because if you don’t share what is most valuable to you, then what is the meaning of sharing at all?

Customers always ask: what is your favorite tea? The diplomatic answer is, all the teas I curate for the shop! You don’t claim favorites with your kids, do you?
That is not the case in reality. I rarely drink Darjeeling or Jasmine teas, never Ceylon or Assam, and occasionally other green teas. Oolong teas have enough range and depth and variety to provide all the self medication needed- that is, as far as mood adjustments, boosting energy, converting a doldrums day to a bright and cheerful one….etc.
Didn’t make it back to Taiwan at the end of May and early June for the spring oolong harvest, regretfully. Taiwan Oolongs have limitless attraction as being the most intoxicating tea there is, offering the ‘high mountain high’. This season though, the King’s Competition Grade Tieguanyin almost stole that title from the High Mountain oolong. It would fill the room with it’s fragrance- but there wasn’t enough to go around. Competition grade teas are invariably scarce, much like the coveted Dayuling. If one stumbles into good pricing and plentiful stock of Dayuling at any tea merchant- it’s guaranteed to be fake. No such thing as plentiful, or cheap, real Dayuling. Ours this year was from 2500 meters, and completely spoken for.
So woefully, my favorite teas are all taken…..

Harvest Party May 2, don’t miss out if you are in the Northern CA area! Will be tasting and talking about all these teas in depth!
Www.teance.com

Harvest Party May 2, don’t miss out if you are in the Northern CA area! Will be tasting and talking about all these teas in depth!
Www.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 tub, 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 tub, 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!).