First Tea Cuttings Arrive at the Tea Farm

Today I worked on the newly arrived tea cuttings with Juan and his friend Pablo. We took large cuttings and trimmed off excess leaves, dipped them in root starter, and planted them in small heated germination stations for easy control. If this works we will expand the operation (currently 250 cuttings) to 1,000 plants or so, move them into pots, and place them in the large green house once they take root.

I may postpone planting until the fall and keep all of them in the greenhouse; we'll see what happens over the next few months. Right now I am waiting for a break in the rain so that we can start work on the hillside where the tea plants will eventually go in. We need to compost and plant more winter cover crop. This tea farm is starting to happen and I am excited...

Photo descriptions, from top: A fresh batch of tea cuttings; trimmed cuttings ready to go into germination stations; a filled germination station.
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Celebrating the New Year at the Tea Ranch

On the first day of 2011 I planned a big New Year celebration at the ranch, with friends and staff from both stores beginning the new year with lots of spirits (as in booze) and tea. Unfortunately, I woke up that morning to pouring rain. A call to my neighbor Juan confirmed rain and heavy wind, so I tried to warn off as many guests as I could. Most of the people I caught by phone agreed that a long drive plus the opportunity for hypothermia weren't the preferred way to start the new year, and were glad to stay home.

Grace and I drove up in the rain, thinking how awful to start the new year by canceling our long-planned celebration. But when we arrived at the ranch, to our surprise, we found the property covered in snow! Being from Hong Kong and San Francisco, I don't see snow very often and this was simply AWESOME!

After going inside to turn on the heat, Grace and I walked around the property marveling at the snow. Suddenly a car pulled in and out jumped a load of visitors. Before all the hellos were said, another car arrived! A total of 12 cars full of people showed up. Everyone took turn at the BBQ (just to keep warm I think). My neighbor Juan must have caught a whiff of the cooking because he came over with family in tow, bringing homemade tamales and enchiladas along with a case of olive oil from his ranch and an armful of wines. It turned out to be a great evening for all and I thank the man (or woman) upstairs for my good fortune.

For those who couldn't make it, here are some photos.
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Fortuitous Snow Augurs a Year of Bounty at the Tea Farm

There's a saying in Chinese: 瑞雪兆丰年 (rui xue zhao feng nian), a fortuitous snow augurs a year of bounty. You can imagine Roy's excitement to arrive at the tea farm on New Year's Day to find a winter wonderland. Such an event is said to foretell good fortune and an abundant harvest. 2011 is already off to a great start!
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Happy New Year 2011!

Happy New Year to you and yours and all the best for a great year in 2011! We hope you're already anticipating your first cup of fine Chinese tea for the new year. Our teahouses are closed today for the holiday, but we reopen tomorrow and look forward to serving you.

Rain here in Northern California has disrupted plans for a New Year barbeque at the tea farm, but Roy says not to fret: Chinese equate lots of water to lots of money, so actually the year is starting off on the right foot!

May 2011 bring you abundant good fortune and lots of great tea! Happy New Year!
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