The Tea Wedding

Sunday, May 17, 2009

With the World Tea Expo behind me, at least temporarily, the wedding is at the top of the agenda and the long anticipated day was quickly approaching. We had the resort reservation, the low down on the weekend plans and our bags were packed.

We left Friday and headed across alligator alley from Florida's east coast to the Bonita Springs on the west coast. Never having been in on the alley I really enjoyed the natural landscape.

Nicole picked Chris up from the airport,our son, who flew in for the big event. Sneaking away from finals for a couple of days Nathan and Chris are like brothers and he would not have missed it.

The Hyatt at Coconut Pointe is fabulous and there is a lot to do. Surrounded by the natural habitat the property is beautiful and is "green" certified resort, we like that. We plan a Saturday morning boat ride and I plop into the jacuzzi for a soak. The spa like atmosphere is still very family friendly but large enough to find quiet, serene spots.

Chris found his happy place!

The 6:30 pm wedding and reception was being held outside and the weather was nice. There was a beautiful breeze blowing and the elegantly simple ceremony included vows that the couple had written for each other, readings from Lao Tzo, I Ching and Tao Te Ching.

Another intricate part of the celebration was a tea ceremony preformed by both the bride and groom for each others parents as a symbol of respect and reverance. Then the couple each added tea to one cup, each drinking from the single cup as a sign of the joining of two to become one.

It began with Nathan preparing the special tea the couple had created with meaningful ingredients intended to bring peace, longevity, prosperity, romance, love and life to the marriage.

Qian He Cha, 1000 Cranes Blend

With the parents served the couple then drank from one cup symbolizing their unity.

Adding to the romance and atmosphere, as the couple finished their vows a light rain began to fall, perfect.

The reception was delicious with lots of food, tea, dancing and celebration. The wedding toast was done with champagne and the award winning sparkling white tea by Golden Star.

We adore Nathan & Nicole and wish them many years of health, happiness and laughter together.

Until next time, Beth

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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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Tasting Teas for The World Tea Championship

Saturday, March 21, 2009

We started cupping teas this week for the upcoming World Tea Championship. Some of the entries require no thought, golden monkey organic, bai hao silver needle organic a couple of our current favorites. We will end up with about 8 teas for the hot tea category. The championship is changing a bit this year but more about that at a later date.

When it came to selecting iced teas it was a bit more difficult. I don't really drink tea cold, its not my preference, I just like tea hot. So Matt came up with a great idea, cold brewing! We spent 2 days prepping, tasting, blending, re-tasting. A lot of work but the end results were terrific. We have some really cool stuff we are unveiling at WTE in May.

Until next time, Beth

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Next Stop White Tea Country - Visiting the Mountains

Saturday, March 29, 2008

After a wonderful day with Mr. Li we load all of our belongings into a car and head to our next destination, Fuding white tea country. After the 1 1/2 hour trip through the mountains we arrive to a very busy downtown area. We check into our hotel and comfortably rest for the night.

In the morning Miss Coe comes to greet us and delivers us to the factory where we are going to begin our day with this potential new supplier. We meet Mr. Lin who is the President of the company who proudly tours us through his massive facility. Most impressive are the organic processing areas where the high tech equipment and processing procedures are obviously the highest standard. Amy and I cup some teas and get to know more about Mr. Lin and his organization which is much to my liking.

Because white teas come in so many levels of quality and grades I am really interested in finding additional sources and we have definitely hit the mark here, good job Amy!

After cupping teas we get back in the car and head up the mountain to lunch. The ride at best is drivable but when we finally arrive at the club, I guess, the view is amazing and well worth the bumpy trip.

We sit outside, by what is the pool area in the summertime, overlooking a large body of water with a spectacular view. I suspect that Taiwan is on the other side of that body of water but cant confirm that. We are served tea, organic Bai Mu Dan of course, and enjoy conversing with Mr. Shao who has joined us.

After enjoying a meal of mostly local seafood and veggies we are back down that mountain to head up another to the tea gardens, yeah!

The trip up the mountain is incredible! It takes us a little more than an 1 hour to finally arrive at the gardens and I have been taking pictures the entire way. Amy says no one will believe me but I actually get a lot of good pictures just hanging the camera out the window and snapping, she calls me the "blind cat", a Chinese legend I will share in a later blog.

Anyway the mist is hanging on the mountain side. The air is cool and crisp. The environment is unlike any other I have seen in China, precisely manicured and meticulously cared for more like a public garden then a tea garden.

As we climb further up the mountain I realize Mr. Lin is not just the owner of a tea company he is a nature lover, committed to the environment in which he has been given charge. His passion flows as he leads the way snapping his own photos of flower blossoms and sharing all of his obvious local botanical knowledge and love for this awesome place.

Among the tea plants grow herbs and flowers, he explains that this synergy is part of the final product that ends up in our cup. He points out the 6 surrounding hills on the mountain that are part of the organic tea farm. He jets off the beaten path occasionally, with me close behind, to observe or show me something. No he doesn't speak English and my Chinese is pathetic but we clearly understand each other and I feel a part of the whole process.

When I tell people back home that the best assurance of the quality of our products comes from my relationship with the growers this is exactly what I am talking about. Not easily expressed but obvious in the moment, I can rest assured that the teas I purchase from this man will be held to the highest standard. An assurance I am confident to pass on to my customers in the US.

We continue winding through the mountain and at each turn the view is even more beautiful then before! Once on the top, Mr. Lin has built a small gazebo in which you can experience the view 360 degrees, inspiring. He pauses a moment and I snap a picture that I believe captures the spirit of my new friend.

As we begin our descent a lite rain starts to fall and the wind becomes much colder, perfect timing as usual. Stopping along the way we finally reach the bottom where we began our hike. As we round the final bend we are greeted by a newly planted flower garden which sits on a small blue green pond and I imagine this will be even more beautiful on my next visit.

The first stage processing facility is located on the mountain and we walk back to it and watch as tea pickers arrive with their freshly harvested leaves. Again I catch a whiff of the intoxicating aroma of freshly baked tea leaves, incredible.

We walk through the much smaller facility as the leaves are being processed and head up some stairs to the drying room. Mr. Lin opens the door at the top and gestures that we cant go in because of our shoes, so I immediately take mine off. He smiles, removes his shoes and the two of us enter the room. This is a new experience for me and I don't regret for a moment walking in my bare feet! I am surrounded by drying Bai Hao Yinzhen tea leaves and their lovely aroma.

Mr. Lin leaves us for a meeting out of town and we finish our visit with a cup of tea and some business discussions before heading back down the mountain to the main factory to finalize our negotiations. I purchased every ounce of chen cha organic Bai Hao Yinzhen they have! I also purchase some of the organic Bai Mu Dan chen cha and arrange for additional teas to be shipped in 60 days once harvested and processed. I am more then pleased at the opportunities that the day has presented and to have added another quality partner in the Teas Etc. supply chain.

In the morning Mr. Lin is gracious enough to meet us to say goodbye and assure me that in 2 weeks I will have new tea samples for the production of our organic white teas for this year. He has arranged for his car to take us to the airport in Wenzhou for our flight to Nanjing. The very rare, chen cha white teas have already been packed and boxed for me and I arrange to have them sent to our Shanghai office and then the US.

This visit alone has been worth the trip, but I am certain there is more to come!

Off to Nanjing and a day of rest before we head back to the mountains of Anhui province and the green tea triangle!

Be sure to catch the pictures from this visit in a seperate blog entry!
Until next time, Beth

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