Friday, May 11, 2012

Just back from Asia

Me and my tasting buddies ( Elvira and Marcus) just went to Taiwan, Fujian, and Hunan. We went a bit later than normal so we could see some oolongs. Most times it is 3 weeks earlier, and we catch the Chinese greens.

We were at the end of the Wenshan production, in the middle of the Dong Ding and at the end of Ali San (in southern Taiwan). And Li Shan had not started yet. It was a good year on the island. I do love the new style of Taiwanese oolongs that have great floral and citrus flavors.  The day up in Ali San was wonderful and sunny, a nice contrast to the rain elsewhere.

We did see lots of Mainland Chinese, and they are having an effect on everything including tea. The prices are going and availability down.

Then it was off to China. First stop was the WuyiShan up in the northern Fujian Province. There was a ton of rain. We stopped by some old friends that make great Yancha (rock oolongs). Things seems to be going well, because the factory is doubled in size. The Chinese like to buy their oolongs. After a great lunch at the factory, we saw a nearby factory and we saw why our friends were successful. There teas are substantially better than their neighbors! All that we ask of them is to tone down the firing, so we can taste the delicious flavors of their oolongs.

Then it was to the southern part of Fujian to see Ti Quan Yin production. This was very interesting in spite of the rain and low clouds. IT was a very pretty area outside of the center of the tea (Anxi), we took lovely pictures. Our guide's tea garden uses reduced amounts of pesticides, so it can qualify for the EU  regulations. Also we saw a new way to make rolled oolong. They use a box that becomes smaller by compression. This is used instead of rolling the tea for 30 times in the traditional method. We will watch  this to see if it creates good tea over time.

Finally we went the Weishan in western Hunan Province. I kept thinking our friend Steve was saying Wuyishan and I was confused. However it Weishan.  I had never been there, so it was a fun trip  (even if it was 6 hours of driving.) Weishan was a very pretty area, in fact Mao loved the area. There is an organic green tea garden that makes wonderful spring tea. So we bought some.

All is all, a wonderful trip. There is always some to learn and enjoy out in Asia.

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Tea Taster at Harney and Sons ---