Tea Adventures

Notes from the Field: Tea Adventures Zhengshan Xiao Zhong

At Tong Mu Village, where the original Zhengshan Xiao Zhong was made and later became known as the Lapsang Souchong in the West. As foreigners are not allowed to go into this region, we had to get a permit, and Mr. Zhang, the villager who makes the tea, had to run around 11 times to get the government officials to agree. You see, from sheer effort alone, we know there are zero real Zhengshan Xiaozhong out there. So let’s let those teas continue to be called Lapsang Souchong- what the villagers don’t know, won’t hurt them right? They don’t know that people send smoke into low quality black tea to create that pine smoke flavor, or how possibly carcinogenic that is. They don’t know that although they make some 300-500 lbs a year for the entire village, worldwide there are literally a ton of Lapsang circulating the globe. Why did…

Notes from the Field: Tea Adventures Nine Bend River

It’s not bad to be a tourist at Wuyi, rafting gently down the Nine Bend River that carries you in sight of all the unique rock formations that are Wuyi Shan. Vegetation, and tea bushes for that matter, often grown stubbornly atop these bare, bold rock surfaces. One can appreciate just how much strength is needed to extract minerals out of these rocks, to fight for the trickles of water that might descend, and to produce tea leaves. Even more amazing, who picks and harvests these leaves? Local harvesters do not have harnesses for rock climbing, and it’s not a sport. Given this perspective, one can glimpse the value and uniqueness of the teas from this region, particularly the truly cliff grown teas!

Notes from the Field: Tea Adventures Old Grove Shuixian

Into the Old Grove: visiting some of these knarly old trees in the region helps us understand that the best oolong varietals all originally came from these arbor type Shuixian trees with the Phoenix beak like leaves. Technically one can make any of the types of teas with any varietal, but the buds mature into larger leaves quickly and the larger, two leaves and a bud configuration with a high concentration of aroma oils is most suitable for oolong making. And the intense fragrances that the producers elicit from this varietal is unmatchable.

Notes from the Field: Tea Adventures Wuyi Mountain

The origins of Wuyi Rock oolong: Shuixian. First, there were one of the few extant species of arbor type teas in the world, the mid size leaf tree type Camellia Sinensis called Shuixian. Successfully propagating Wuyi Mountain area after Phoenix Mountain, the trees were later differentiated by subspecies into various famous groves, or Ming Cong, such as Water Golden Turtle, Dahongpao. From green leaf to black dragon, one of the most profound teas in the world will be explored in depth by our fellow tea aficionado tour group. Today: perfect fall weather, last day of production, and of Rougui oolong. Took them into the wild Old Groves Shuixian forest.

Artisan Tea Producer: Mr. Zhang of Wuyi Mountain, China

So many of the artisans that we buy teas from are unique and deserve the utmost attention and respect. It’s difficult to choose just one to highlight. Mr. Zhang, of Wuyi Mountain, China, however, would definitely be the first. Wuyi ‘Rock’ teas were often State gifts from the Central Chinese government to other dignitaries, such as the President of the United States. As a result, the requirements of being an acknowledged artisan in a fabled tea producing region is quite high. Wuyi Mountain is a legendary scenic area of some of the most pristine waters and cliffs, with a unique terroir that commands some extreme requisites for growth. Mr. Zhang has tackled the job of mastering what is traditional farming and processing techniques. He has also created personalized equipment to make exceptional versions of Wuyi teas. Wuyi teas are arbor type Camellia Shuixian varietals that grow on just 10cm of soil, and…

Tea as Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbal medicine, of which tea is a part of, is far from easy to drink. Usually dark, potent, and downright nastily bitter and pungent, I would rather drink gallons of tea as preventive than one of those bitter brews. But this extensive pharmacology of 3000 years works. Here, a glimpse of herbal medicines in Hong Kong.