Anxi Iron Buddha Tea Ceremony

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day 3 at the fair has tea ceremonies throughout the day. We start our day with front row seats to the Anxi Iron Buddha Ceremony, a Ti Kuan Yin tea is brewed in a traditional ceremony.

It's a beautiful, artful ceremony. I have some pictures below and will have someone post video on the Teas Etc Facebook page asap.

Until next time, Beth

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Hong Kong Tea Fair - Day 2

Friday, August 14, 2009

Uninterrupted sleep was not in the cards for me. While I feel the jet lag I am anticipating the day ahead and the combination does not equal sleep for me.

While Amy sleeps I head down to the lobby hoping to find something to eat, that's not in the cards either. So I found a confey chair, in the somewhat dark and deserted lobby, knitting and planning the day ahead.

Amy and I will spend the entire day meeting with suppliers, tasting and gathering teas to see if there is anything we want to add to our current inventory. Its rare that I dont find at least one new interesting tea that I have not had before. Once work is finished then we are off to act like tourist enjoying a boat ride in Victoria Harbor and then maybe we will hit one of the night markets, weather permitting.

Until next time, Beth

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Hong Kong Tea Fair- Day 1 Pictures

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The internet is cooperating so here are the promised pictures.

Japanese Tea Ceremony

Puerh Teas

Puerh from ancient trees

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Amy is Getting Married

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Love is obviously in the air, or at least across e-mail at Teas Etc! I am happy to share with the tea community that Amy Zhang, who has managed our China office for the past 3 years, is getting married this August 1st.

While I am extremely disappointed that my schedule did not allow me to attend the wedding we could not be happier for Amy!

A traditional ceremony will take place this Saturday in Nanjing, my all time favorite city in China. With an abundance of family and friends in attendence the happy couple will commit to spend the rest of their lives together.

Wishing the adorable, happy couple a life time of prosperity, good health and joy together.

We love you Amy!!

Pictures to follow as soon as I have them to share.

Until next time, Beth

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Looking Back and Turning Over a New Leaf in 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

2008 was a whirlwind and such an incredible year for me personally and professionally! Starting with my trip to China in March/April. Traveling in the mountains, choosing exceptional teas and having the opportunity to cup with masters throughout China is incredible.

What most people didn't know was that I signed a lease for a much larger office, production facility the night before I left the country. And with little done while I was gone I jumped in after being back 3 days and completed "green" renovations. With an aggressive move date of May 1st Cody, Penelope and I, along with others worked overtime to get done, and we did.

The move was exhilarating and really paved the way for the growth that was to take place ahead. Even I could not have imagined such amazing growth and industry recognition.

Right after the move World Tea Expo (WTE)and the New Business Boot Camp (NBBC) was held in Las Vegas. With our energy high the Teas Etc team made its way to Vegas and was excited to have such positive feedback and results. The NBBC was an awesome experience, very emotional and fulfilling. Becoming a new WTE Advisory Board Member gave me an opportunity to get even more insight into our complex and very small industry. Hopefully I can be a part of positive change for the industry that I love.

A personal high for me, for all of 2008, was being the only female owned company to have a winner in the World Tea Championship Hot Tea Category!

Without missing a beat we returned home and the pace didn't seem to slow down. You know how you always think and/or say "I will relax after this" well I have yet to get my "after this".

With a gift show in September and lots to fill the time inbetween. Many hours spent developing our new product line to be launched in the next couple of months. Planning marketing and out reach for the months ahead. Appearing for Macy's Martha Stewart tea event in late summer. And of course the exciting opportunity to be featured on QCV in November and Decemeber both of which far exceeded our expectations.

Our success at the September show spearheaded our decision to lease a permanent showroom at the Atlanta AmericasMart which opened January 2009. That show was unbelivably sucessful!! The Friday marTEAni party. The Sunday Tea Presentation in the main demo kitchen, the one that Tyler and Rocco appeared in just a day before! Lots of fun stuff and the showroom really is lovely, pictures to follow this week.

The success of the January show was 2 fold for me personally. Having that time out of the office and being with potential customers really let me see that it is time for me to get back to my roots, sharing my enthusiasm for our quality products with others. That is what I Love and I work hard so I can do what I love, important to remember.

Atlanta was truly a great start to the year of the ox, the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival which begins this week. Happy New Year of the Ox.

Next is the tea cruise which sails January 24th heading to the western carribean, Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios. I will be teaching several marketing classes for tea professionals on the cruise as well as sharing my personal tea journeys abroad with stories, photos and teas. I am looking forward to some down time with Newman, my husband who works just as hard as I do in the background at Teas Etc. Believe me I could never accomplish 1/4 of what I do without the help of many friends and coworkers behind the scenes.

Tomorrow I have the chance to spend the day with my girlfriend Barbara at the spa for some much needed R&R.

O.K. so on 1/1/09 I made a resolution to commit to blogging more regularly and here it is the 17th and this is my first post! Progress is a good thing, at least it's not February 17th!

Until next time, Beth

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Traveling throughout China by Air, Rail and Road

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Traveling in China may not be as difficult as you imagine, even if you don't speak Mandarin Chinese. Modern day China is much more welcoming to foreign guests and many Chinese are especially considerate and accommodating to western visitors.

Airline travel within the country is particularly easy as announcements in most airports are in Chinese and English and getting through security is not as much of hassle as it is here at home.

Train travel can be challenging but is still very doable and very affordable. The biggest challenge lies in what you carry. Many stations require going up and down stairways to and from trains which can be difficult with heavy bags. Trains can be crowded especially in major cities like Shanghai. Be forewarned the Chinese are all in a hurry to get on the train and courtesy is not at its best in this environment.

Regardless to your load or destination I suggest always booking train travel in advance. Most good hotels have ticketing services and schedules can be easily found online. Select "soft" seats or cars depending on what is available and the length of your trip. Soft seats are the equivalent of first class. In some cases you must choose between "first class" or "regular" soft seats. Soft cars are semi-private sleeping cars with a total of 4 bunks a small table and a shared bathroom, in the hall. Soft car is the best choice and considered first class even if it is not by western standards.

When possible choose bullet trains with their new cars and fast service!

Hotels may not be as reliable as travel and trust me you definitely get what you pay for! Top hotel chains which may be a safe bet in the states are not necessarily the way to go in China. If available and you like clean accommodations always select 5 or 4 stars, anything less and you are going to be disappointed. Even 4 stars can be sketchy at times and I suggest that you request a look at your room before making a final decision.

Having said that there are really nice hotels in China as well. The Sofitel in Suzhou and the Hangzhou Hyatt are marvelous! The Sofitel in Hangzhou on the other hand is not! A perfect example of why you cannot rely on a name.

When booking a room ask if breakfast is included in the price, pretty standard all over the country. Also be sure to ask whether you will be charged for an internet connection. Many times it is included but if not prices range from flat daily fees to per minute charges.

With the 2008 summer Olympics in store China is anxious to show the world the China of today with its booming economy, wealthy neighborhoods and technological advances. A great example of "modern" China is the new Beijing airport a masterpiece of function and design.

If you do visit China I recommend adding Hangzhou to your list of stops for a visit to the beautiful West Lake area. West Lake is easily going to take one day to walk the perimeter and spring is a lovely time to do that. One of my personal favorites not only because of the natural beauty of the gardens surrounding the lake but also because of the terrific spa at the Hangzhou Hyatt! This full service spa has a variety of treatments and I will be back to take advantage of the great spa values! Try the 4 1/2 package of services for under $200 that includes non stop massage, exfoliation and pampering. It was a great time out for me especially after traveling so much.

Until next time, Beth

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Returning and Visiting Shanghai

Friday, April 04, 2008

Returning to Shanghai after a few very long days I am catching up on some much needed rest and look forward to a couple of days of unpacking only once! I will be heading back home soon and I have to say that I am tired of packing.

I took time to get my hair done, very different then in the US, about a 15 minute massage by the shampoo girl. I wandered around an Indonesian mall which had many familiar stores. I was reminded of my friend Tiffany when I stumbled across a Hello Kitty store, apparently very popular here. I especially enjoyed strolling the European clothing stores.

Amy and I also took some time to see the Bund area of Shanghai. This lovely water front is located in an upscale area of Shanghai. With its beautiful views, lush landscaping and skyscrapers the Bund is sprinkled with eateries including Starbucks, Haagen Dazs and McDonald's. Starbucks was busy and unlike anywhere else they had 2-3 stores located within a couple of blocks of one another, suprising!

The Bund

Catch my upcoming posts that will include pictures from the Huangshan tea gardens, shopping and more.

I enjoyed the advertising on this bus.

Until next time, Beth

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Gardens of Suzhou

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I am backing up a bit but wanted to share some photos from the beautiful city and gardens of Suzhou. We visited this rapidly growing area and stayed at the lovely Sofitel Hotel, which I highly recommend.

The first garden we visited was the Lions Grove Garden, one of four famous Suzhou gardens. Dating back to the Yuan Dynasty 1342 A.D. the garden is known for its lake stones and rockeries. This grand rock work forms a three layer maze, winding paths and numerous caves.

After falling into disrepair the garden was purchased by an ancestor of the original archirtecht, I.M. Pei, in 1917 and was kept up by the family until they donated it to the people's government. Lion's Grove opened to the public in February 1954.

The next garden, the Humble Administrators Garden, is the most famous of all and recogonized as the best-preserved and a typical example of clasical gardens created by craftsman in ancient China. The largest private garden in Suzhou the 5.2 kilometers was first landscaped in the Ming Dynasty 1513 A.D..

Until next time, Beth

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Nanjing to Huangshan - Visiting the tea gardens

The weather is cold and dreary in Nanjing and I have spent the entire short visit in the hotel enjoying the very nice accomadations, writing and catching up with stuff in the US. Excited about the teas I have purchased in Fuding, I have a lot to share with those back home.

We board the train to Huangshan, in the late afternoon,and begin the 8 hour journey in the soft car compartment. The monkey travels with me a little token from home. Amy is off to sleep and I enjoy the countryside doted with beautiful signs of spring.

We arrive in Huangshan check into our hotel and schedule the following days meetings and garden visits. This Friday is Tomb Sweeping Day or Qing Ming and all of Shanghai will be closed so we must shorten our stay in Huangshan in order to accomplish our goals back at the office there.

We meet with old friends and new in this burgeoning city flanked by lovely mountains. Only new tea samples in this region, the primary harvests will not take place for another couple of weeks.

Visiting with Mr. Fang and all of his staff, many of who I recognize from my last visit. It is a pleasure to see everyone and they are welcoming and hospitable as always.

Mr. Fang is anxious to show us a new organic garden but the trip is to far for our short visit, next time. Organic gardens in China are far removed from the hustle and bustle of heavily populated areas. Many are located where there is zero population, which makes meeting the stringent organic requirements much easier.

We visited three gardens, had dinner and talked business well into the night before catching our plane back to Shanghai. I had the distinct opportunity to meet one of Mr. Fangs customers at dinner. This gentleman is a professor and authority on Daoism with a book to his credit. While written in Chinese, I am delighted to receive a signed copy that includes a photo of him with the youngest sister of the last ruler in the Qing Dynasty, pretty cool.

Look for my photo posts from this lovely local. Until next time, Beth

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From Wenzhou to Nanjing

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The drive from Fuding to Wenzhou is really lovely, quaint countryside. When we arrive in Wenzhou it is obvious that this is a wealthy area, very well maintained roads and parks and lots of fancy cars, one that we avoid because it is driving very erratically.

The airport is nothing like the city very old and very small but easy to navigate. You know its a good thing that Amy has me to find our way! Despite the very foggy weather our flight leaves on time and are glad when the plane lands in Nanjing, the flight got very bumpy, not fun.

We check in at the Nanjing Jinling hotel and get settled in our very nice accomadations. Off to my favorite tailor to place an order and then back to the hotel. The weather is cold, cloudy and very dreary so we are in for the night. Maybe we will do a little shopping tomorrow before leaving for Huangshan on Monday, weather permitting.

Until next time, Beth

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White Tea Mountain Photos

Photos from Fuding Mountain and the Organic Gardens

Narrow pass on the drive up

New garden at the base of the "tea" mountain

The pride of a job well done

Amy and the gang on our way up

The six organic gardens

Organic teas in spring

Looking down the backside of the mountain from the garden

Bring the leaves to the factory

Freshly picked leaves

Inside the drying room

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