When a Tea Merchant Wakes Up Early, Opportunities Knock

I was asked to meet with the vice-mayor of a small township called Gu Ling (Drum Hill) on the outskirts of Fuzhou. On the other side of the hill is the famous Gu Shan (Drum Mountain), where the famed Yong Quan Temple resides. I have taken many people to visit the Yong Quan Temple to listen to the evening prayers, and drums and gongs after the prayers. The temple shuts down after the evening prayers, with all the monks returning to their meditation and rest. All the other tourists except our group have long gone. We dine in the temple’s vegetarian restaurant with a meal arranged exclusively for us. After dinner we try to make it back to our bus in pitch darkness. It is always one of the most enjoyable moments in the trip for me. If you are one of those who joined me for this experience, let me know if you feel as I do!

Anyway, I left my hotel room early this morning and made it to the mayor’s office. It turned out that one of the people I know told him about me and he wanted to know if I would consider growing tea and building my base there. I was flattered, but as always, had many reservations. I voiced the reservations to him and he simply said, "Let’s go up and take a look!"

We went up the hill and let me tell you, I’ve seen many tea farms in my time; these are some of the best manicured and managed ones I’ve ever seen. The tea from there ain’t bad either. They make a green tea called Mei Zhen and a Min Hong (Fujian black/red tea) that needs work but obviously has potential. The mayor has land already plowed and ready to plant and he has a whole bunch of idea and thoughts that were just tremendously attractive. I talked to Grace (my wife, boss, and leader at all times) and told her that I wished she could be here (OK, I missed her anyway).

Just before I was going to take a deep breath and tell him we should look at some numbers, someone else called! I had to go to another area where there is another beautiful hilltop with its own water source and ready-to-grow farm that can be had for cheap! What is a poor tea merchant to do but wake up early again to see what life brings?