Breaking A Puerh Bing Cha ("Cake Puerh")

As with most "cake"Puerhs, the amount of tea used is rather difficult to measure since you will have to break off a part of the cake to make the tea and it is almost impossible to get exactly the amount you want. If you're someone who just kind of goes with the flow, then adjust steeping time and temperature according to the amount of tea. You can easily adapt and it will work just fine. However, most people want some kind of structure to follow, so will recommend three methods to break up the cake.
He Kai Shan "Green" Puerh - Bing Cha

Continue Reading

September Successes at The Farm

This week marked the completion of another critical step toward actual production at the Tea Farm. With years of continuous infrastructure problems, it's been impossible to put plants in the ground. Broken water lines and problems with the wells, struggles to install the solar power system and the persistence of the Central Valley's hot, dry summers have been constant challenges. In previous posts we've shown how we're now harvesting the sun for power. Today we can happily announce completion of the "nursery" for our infant tea plants.

Greenhouse - Southwestern Exposure

We've replaced the original clear plastic siding with a single sheet of opaque white plastic and then a covering layer of black solar netting to further help with naturally reducing interior temps when it's 100+ outside but also keeping it cozy when the mercury drops. You can see how these layers have been strapped to the the ground with cables so that the wild winter winds can't rip it away.

Adding the new plastic covering

A cooling system of mist and fans maintains the interior humidity, providing the young tea plants with their preferred tropical climate. A complex system of fans, misters and automated monitors will keep the humidity a stable minimum of 40%.
Inside the greenhouse

Custom built hydroponic trays will soon house thousands of new cuttings.
Tea & Bamboo
Along with the tea, we're also testing strains of jasmine, bamboo and olive trees.

We now anticipate an Grand Celebration by next Fall with a BBQ and general festivities.
So, stay tuned!
Continue Reading

Imperial Gaiwan Collection Update

You may have noticed that we recommend using gaiwan preparation for almost every tea we offer. While it may take some practice to hold properly and strain without spilling, we think that you will come to love this classic piece of teaware.

That is one reason we invest so much in providing fine gaiwans made of lovely bone china and decorated with designs inspired by the royal Chinese courts. 

Continue Reading

This is my final day at the factory. With our Yin Hao and Jasmine Pearls taking seven days to finish scenting, I simply ran out of time.  (Multiple scenting with fresh flowers every day.)

I inspected last night's pile of scented tea this morning and cupped them after the flowers are removed from the tea and I am happy with the progress. I am also smart enough to leave so the real pros in the factory can finish the work without me peering over their shoulders.


I will be on a plane back home tomorrow and the thought of an airport and 12 hours of flying sound good. There's a limit than an overweight, 57-year-old body can take . . .
Continue Reading

Picking Fresh Jasmine Flowers

In the throes of jasmine harvest, the intense heat of summer and the humidity of monsoon season, the delicate beauty of the fragrance of this delicate white flower will be absorbed by and preserved in the tea.

A fully opened, white jasmine flower of the specific varietal used to scent tea is puffy when fully opened.

The flowers are picked by hand in the early morning hours before they open. In that way, the most intense "release" of their perfume is saved for the tea.

 I had to laugh when I discovered some stray bean plants growing in the jasmine field.

Continue Reading

Wholesale Jasmine Market

Continued good weather allowed jasmine production on our own farm to progress forward. However, the price of fresh jasmine flowers also continued to climb this year so I thought I go and check out the wholesale jasmine market to see what's up.

The pictures shows the frantic and often chaotic pace that takes place everyday.

Standing amongst tons of fresh jasmine flowers along with hundreds of screaming individuals is like listening to beautifully played classical music while you're riding out a storm outdoors!

If you're bored and want a change of pace, you should come and check this out . . .

Continue Reading

Jasmine Flower Harvest

This trip to China was specifically to be on site for the jasmine flower harvest and to supervise the scenting of our jasmine teas with the fresh blossoms. But the weather did not cooperate with my flight plans. 

After ten days of continued on and off rain, jasmine production practically ground to a halt. Factories typically do not accept flowers during the rain due to excess moisture content. They prefer to wait until warm, sunny days where flowers develop the maximum amount of fragrance. So I tried to make the best of things and took the opportunity to get all my personal business done elsewhere.

Teas are test-scented in small batches prior to scenting large quantities.

Prior to departing to Guangxi where the jasmine tea factory is located, I gave instructions to get my base tea materials fired and ready for cupping before scenting.

I returned after a hard day of travel, where I only had time for a quick lunch, skipping both breakfast and dinner. Those of you who know my now pear-shaped body know that I don't like to skip meals! I arrived my hotel at 1 am with the town shut down except for some road side food stands. At that point, I decided maybe one less day of food may not be a bad idea after all. And I was excited to get back to the factory to work on our new jasmine teas. 

The next morning I arrived at the factory and found it clean and in good order. I walked into the cupping room and started cupping all the teas we planned to scent this season. But, starting with the base tea for our Yin Hao Jasmine, I was disappointed to discover that it wasn't quite right. 

I met with the factory boss and asked what the hell happened?? Finally, it was determined that some one accidentally blended my material with some inferior tea! I almost blew a gasket upon hearing this, I travel thousands of miles with lots of expense and now we don't have the material we had been promised. 
Machine used to separate the flowers from the tea leaves.

Anyway, people tend to stay away from old, white haired, overweight guys when they get angry. So the factory put in a rush effort to sift out the material an select the quality leaf we want. And after a hard days work both by hand and machine, we were able to produce 50 kg of quality material for a first sample scenting. For the first time in years, I was mad enough to stay at the factory until really late at night and then rush back early in the morning to make sure there were no more mishaps. 

Stay tuned for more updates from this trip!

Continue Reading