Spring Teas

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

We have been receiving tons of tea samples from Amy in our China office and have been so busy cupping has been a challenge, can you imagine?

What we have cupped and purchased is a very limited harvest bai hao silver needle that is amazing. When white teas are straight from the garden like these there is an amazing freshness and almost "warm" aroma and a complex character that unfolds on your tongue. This is why I work so hard for moments like these!

Anyway we have tons of cupping to do when we get back from the World Tea Expo! I am very excited about the show but wont be disappointed to get back and do some serious cupping. We have a variety of distinctive black, green and green oolongs awaiting.

Look for World Tea Expo updates, until next time, Beth

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Nanjing to Huangshan - Visiting the tea gardens

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

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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White Tea Mountain Photos

Sunday, March 30, 2008

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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Cupping Teas in Hangzhou

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I was looking forward to cupping teas in Hangzhou because I can always depend on Paul to source some good early spring Dragon Well's and he came thru as always. We spent the morning sampling several different grades including one from ancient trees.

There really is nothing that taste like a good early spring Long Jing and the aroma, I love it. Since the last time I visited with Paul he has gotten married and has a new baby and we enjoyed catching up.

With limited time on our hands and gifts to get for people back home I wanted to get some shopping in. About 1 1/2 blocks from Paul's shop there is a great street market that I have enjoyed in the past. Very traditional Chinese looking market with plenty of stuff to choose from so I picked up a couple of things to include in the box I am shipping home.

One thing I have learned traveling in China is first I seem to collect things everywhere I go. Second those things get heavier the further into the trip I get and third and most important, EMS is the best way for me to ship things back at different intervals to lighten the load!

I finish the visit with Paul and check out of the hotel to meet with another supplier to cup some organic teas then off to the airport to Fujian province for a few days.

I am excited about visiting the Fuzhou, Fuding areas of Fujian province because it is new territory for me and that is always fun.

Until next time, Beth

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More Bi Lo Chun Pictures

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Beautiful freshly processed Bi Lo Chun

Selecting leaves

Processing the leaves by hand

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Tasting Teas in Shanghai

Friday, March 21, 2008

We cupped so much tea that I forgot to eat!

We began our day traveling across town to a tea market where various brokers have set up small shops selling a wide range of teas. As I entered the market I was overcome with the intense aroma of Pu'erh tea, yum.

There to meet and cup black tea's with our friend Pauline I experienced some wonderful Mao Feng Keemun's, golden Yunnan's and another very interesting tea that Pauline referred to as 1/2 fermented (oxidized). Not oolong, not black tea but 1/2 fermented. She went on to tell me how this tea got better with age, similar to a Pu'erh, and kindly gave me a gift of this special one year old tea. She said I must try it each year for the next 3 years to experience the transformation in the character.

Pauline told us about the celebration taking place this weekend for the first spring harvest of Bi Lo Chun and invited us to go. So we have changed our plans and will be skipping our trip north to Jinan. That will wait until I return in July and is not nearly as urgent or fun as following tea! I was hoping to visit Suzhou on my last trip so I am excited that it worked out this way.

We enjoyed a couple of hours cupping and laughing together and then wandered the market checking out many spring Dragon Wells which are now plentiful on the market.

After collecting samples and pricing we were off to lunch and another tea market. We enjoyed a simple noodle soup lunch, which I love, but was so full of tea that I could not eat much. I think it is so funny Americans are always poking fun at the tiny Chinese tea cups, but those little cups sneak up on you quickly. That aside the best part about cupping with this brewing style, using a gaiwan, is that each infusion of the leaves revels another layer of taste and character.

In the second market I met a new supplier a woman from Huangshan area who had some wonderful Dragon Well, Bi Lo Chun and in about 10 days will have the spring Mao Feng greens, cant wait. We cupped her teas and moved on to oolongs sharing some special Da Hong Pao from our Wuyi tea friends. Many times gardens and/or factory owners will have shops in larger cities to sell there teas this was just that type of market. Again we gathered samples and pricing and set off to meet with our Shanghai freight broker Charley.

We stopped to get something drink in a very "cool" coffee bar, yes coffee bar. The youth of China adores everything western and scoffs at the old tradition of tea. Charley even ordered iced tea! What is this world coming to?

After our meeting in the upscale shopping and business district we were off to get fitted at the Cheong Sam shop where we got to meet and get fitted by the master himself, 91 years old and still going strong. There must be something in the tea here!

Back at the hotel we begin mapping out our newly adjusted travel schedule and planning for the days ahead. I am teaching Amy the meaning of spontaneous.

Off to Suzhou for the very exciting Bi Lo Chun festival, celebrating the first spring harvest of this famous Chinese tea.

Until next time, Beth

Bi Lo Chun and Dragon Well Spring Teas

Lunch with Amy

Famed 91 Year Old Shanghai Tailor

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