Back from tea buying in Asia

We have just returned from our whirlwind May tea and teawares buying trip to Korea, Japan and China.

Most importantly, we accomplished all that we set out to achieve on this trip, including securing batches of new 2010 Chinese spring green teas and 2010  Japanese Shincha (first-pluck) and meeting with potential new suppliers. We met several tea growers who are eager to sell us their tea, and their dedication to their craft and their tea makes us happy to oblige.

In fact, all of our new China spring green tea ( Jiu Hua Shan Fo Cha, Immortal Goddess, Jing Shan Hao Ya, Long Ding, Lu Shan Clouds & Mist; Gu Zhu Zi Sun; Gan Lu;  and our two yellow teas, Huo Shan and Huang Ya; and our Japan Shincha ( Fukamushi Shincha, Hashiri Shincha ) ) made it back to the store before we did. ( The Longjing arrived before we left.)

All the tea has been checked in, priced and listed on our website,  Just look for the 2010 Spring tea category. ( For all our Sencha fans, we were not able to bring back any Sencha and the wait will be a little bit longer. Cold weather in Japan has delayed the harvest time by several weeks in most places. The Sencha had not even begun to be harvested when we left Japan in mid-May).

But, we did find two extraordinarily fragrant and delicious Fenghuang Dan Cong teas that will not be priced in the stratosphere. But we must all be patient; as they will not arrive until later this summer. We also tasted a spectacular late spring Anxi Tieguanyin  and are trying to negotiate the price. The supply is very small this year due to the bad weather in Fujian and the farmer we met is in no hurry to name his price ! Stay tuned.

Nevertheless, we stuffed our suitcases with as much lovely, small sheng Pu-erh cakes (and a few other goodies ) as we could and we prayed that they would not be sniffed out by the security dogs. Sniffed or not, the tea arrived unscathed and will be posted on our website soon.

On this trip we were not in the tea fields or tea factories but visited with and talked at length to many people who are involved with tea in different ways. I am still getting my thoughts together regarding the conversations we had with tea masters, Korean and Japanese potters,  tea sellers, tea growers, those who specialize in aged teas and others who specialize in roasting oolongs. There is so much to say about such a full and exhausting experience;  I will sort out the details and try to do it justice to it over the course of several upcoming posts.

This is how my mind feels right now:


And I need to wait until it gets back like this:

As students of tea we are awed by the knowledge and refinement of information that we gain from our colleagues in Asia on each of these trips.  We have finally come to the place in our understanding of tea where we are able to appreciate the nuance and variables that exists within tea and tea culture.

This knowledge and awareness  comes naturally to our Asian tea colleagues who are surrounded daily by this type of chatter, but for us, most  of the conversations that we have in China or Japan cannot happen here in the USA because there are very few people here who are versed in such topics. So, we rely on our colleagues abroad to breathe a transfusion of this life into us each time we return.

No matter how much one knows on any subject, there is always more to know and more importantly, to understand. We had a blast gathering new information for future tea books and refining what we already know.  Best of all, we had the time to really talk to colleagues, ask them a million questions, and find out what interests them about tea and what they do.

So, we have returned, armed with great tea, new opportunities, and many new topics to share in the coming months with our tea enthusiast customers and readers.


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