Pursuing A Dream in Ma Lian Dao, Beijing's Tea District

When the first Imperial Tea Court was established back in 1993, I had three goals:

  1. Bring the best tea possible to America
  2. Build the teahouse of my dreams
  3. Live next to a tea farm and maybe build my dream teahouse there
I think in some ways, I've accomplished the first task of bring some of the best teas available to America over the last 16 years. However, the other two goals have still not been accomplished and I feel that my time is running short!

As you know, I have recently talked a lot about finding or acquiring a tea farm. Although we contract with farmers to grow our tea now, it isn't the same as growing it yourself! I don't know if I will be a good tea farmer, but I sure would like to take a crack at it. Therefore, I have expended a lot of energy looking for available land both here in China and in the US. My secret dream is to have both, but I will settle for one if I have to.

It is also no secret that I've been wanting to live in China part-time. Through the generous aid of Grace's cousin, Zhang Hong, and her husband Yang Wu, we were able to acquire a very nice home in an exclusive neighborhood in Beijing. I have spent the last few days running amuck in Beijing, looking for possible space to start the Beijing branch of Imperial Tea Court. Beijing's maddening traffic and bad air is a constant turn off, but business potential abounds here. You think there is a recession going on back home? Well, no one told the folks here in Beijing. Going to a shopping mall is like running through 100-foot-deep human waves wherever you go. US retailers would kill for the sea of humanity and shoppers that seems to overflow every shopping center; it's like Christmas shopping rush times ten. Opportunities are everywhere!

Tomorrow I plan to spend my entire day at the Beijing tea wholesale district called Ma Lian Dao. A friend has some commercial space there and may consider partnering with me. I am excited! I also get to spend a lot of time with my friend Yang Wu, who is courageously battling terminal cancer. Mr. Yang has been through every western cancer treatment and is now undergoing a western and eastern combination regimen that requires a daily visit to the hospital for IV treatments. He has lost a lot of weight but smiles and jokes as if there is not a care in the world. We went out to dinner yesterday to our favorite grilled lamb and hand-pulled noodle shop. He put down his food with gusto. We drank some fantastic 20-year-old puerh (at my urging, Yang has begun to drink aged puerh) and very old Shao Xing wine. It was one of the best meals I've had in a long time. His courage makes everything else seem so easy.

I look forward to reporting my findings tomorrow at Ma Lian Dao!