Back in Beijing

After the tour group's departure back to the US, I visited my friend Mr. Yang, who has been fighting cancer for over 6 years. He continues to defy all medical predictions and is still fighting after the re-occurrence and spread of cancer.

We chatted about stuff in general and he promised to continue to fight and, one day, he will make it to my California tea farm to help me drink some of the teas that will eventually be growing there.

I left the hospital feeling sad and depressed. So I decided to eat my depression away by going to Da Zhai Mun (大宅门) for lunch.

Entrance to the Dai Zhai Mun Restaurant

This is a traditional Beijing Style restaurant that features great food and entertainment along with classical Beijing decor. I love the food so much that I send some to the hospital for Mr. Yang.

Interior of the Dai Zhai Mun Restaurant

After Beijing, I am off to Yunnan's LiJiang for a couple days of rest, and then its on to Taiwan for the high mountain Oolong harvest.

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High Mountain Tea In Wuyi Shan

Sometimes, I wondered why I am so hopelessly in love with tea. (Some would say shamelessly.) And then it's springtime again and my body itches to travel. Then I find myself again on the road to Wuyi Shan.
High mountain tea in Wuyi Shan.

This time, I have nine other people with me all excited to visit one of the remote tea farms. Then, the day before our two-hour hike to my favorite place on earth, I developed a back problem! Muscle spasms occurred whenever I took a deep breath or moved a certain way. Generally, spasms like these zap me whenever I don't expect it.
Wuyi tea farm

The day we were to make this pilgrimage began with pouring rain. Mr. Wang, my tea farmer calls at 6 AM to ask if I want to cancel. In between painful spasms I decided my group members would likely commit murder if I cancelled so I told him we are coming up, no matter what. I seriously didn't know how but I was going to tough this out no matter what.

Misty Wuyi Shan

Finally, after a painful bus ride, we were at the foot of the mountain and the rain stopped. We started hiking up the mountain and every question I ever had about why I am the way I am is being answered with each step I took. I once again forgot about pain and as I soldier on, a smile started to spread across my face. I practically ran by everyone and lead the way up the mountain. If you see these pictures, I am sure you'd understand why Wuyi Shan is such a magical place. . .

The smell of freshly fired Wuyi Yan Cha
Just finished tea being sorted for cupping

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Visiting An Old Village in Wuyi Shan

Once again, I led my group members into Wuyi Shan, one of the place most important tea destinations in my heart. It is also known as one of the thirty-six portals to immortality to ancient Taoist of China. When you navigate away from the mass of tourists pouring into Wuyi Shan for the usual destinations and visit the old neighborhoods of the city, you'll know why.

I have been coming to Wuyi Shan for a long time and this place never fails to move me in many different ways. Wuyi Shan is one of the reasons I can continue to try and improve as a tea person. If you ever wonder how I can continue to be so passionate about tea, all you've got to do is take a walk up to the tea farm with me.

My camera decided to take a break so I have borrowed images from other members of the group. We will report back again with more scenes of my favorite tea places in another post.

Hope you're enjoying the tour with us,

The Old Village of Wuyi Shan
A corner of the Old Village of Wuyi Shan.

Home in Old Wuyi Shan.

Workers taking the tea back to the factory.

Tea tasting in Old Wuyi Shan Village.

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Pan Firing Dragon Well

I gave the tour a demonstration of my pan firing abilities with fresh Dragon Well.
(click on the title to view the latest photos)

Roy Fong demonstrating pan firing fresh Dragon Well.

Roy's finished Dragon Well tea.

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Train Ride To Wuyi Shan

We arrived in Wuyi Shan after a five-hour train ride.  Private cabins made the trip very comfortable.

A few of the other members of the tour group joined me for gongfu tea and enjoyed looking out the window, watching at the beautiful landscape.

Its amazing how fast a few hours can flash by when you're drinking good tea!

Roy preparing gongfu tea on the train ride to Wuyi Shan.

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We left Hangzhou early in the morning and arrived Fuzhou at lunch time. We decided to get to the temple first and have an excellent vegetarian lunch before putting our bags down at the hotel.

Main Hall of Yong Quan Temple, Fuzhou

Restaurant at the temple

Vegetarian lunch at the temple

Young monks preparing for the ceremony

I've been visiting the Yong Quan Temple for years, the calming affect of the temple never fails to put me at ease. I've always feel that calm mind and relaxed body is essential to making good tea!

A dinner and a tea house demonstration is planned for this evening. I will report with more photos of tonight's tea tasting.

Tomorrow we will take a five hour train ride to one of my favorite destinations -- Wuyi Shan -- where group members will learn the in and outs of Oolong tea making first hand.
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Picking, processing and cupping tea in West Lake

Fresh tea picked by tour group in West Lake.

After the tour group rendezvoused in Shanghai, we got all the sightseeing out of the way with visits to the Bund – the famous waterfront destination along the western bank of the Huangpu River - and dinner at the famous, Xin Tien Di restaurant.

We moved on to Hangzhou the next morning by private coach, a comfortable three-hour drive, after which, we checked into the fives-star JW Marriot Hotel. We visited the famous Lin Yin Temple, had an authentic Hangzhou style dinner then decided to have tea at the incredibly crowded Wupanju Tea House on the West Lake. After drinking four different teas each and enjoying a marathon of tea snacks, we all agreed that we are prepared for today's main event -- tea picking at the West Lake.

Everyone the tour had a lot of fun picking tea for a few hours and then enjoyed a lunch at the farm. After that we went to the factory to make our own tea. Most of the tour members participated and the tea is not half bad! We produced enough teas (with help) to bring home an ounce each! All agreed that no one should lose their day job since they ain't going to make a living picking tea!

Pan frying the tour group's freshly picked tea.

After we thoroughly embarrassed ourselves, we moved on to the cupping room where my friend, Ms. Qian Xiao Ling, and I gave members pointers on cupping and how to determine good tea from bad.

Cupping lesson at the factory.

We retired to the hotel at around 9 pm exhausted but excited and happy.

We are scheduled for an early dragon boat ride around the West Lake tomorrow while enjoying our own tea, (literally produced with our own blood and sweat) while traditional musicians play classical music. After lunch we will visit the China Tea Museum and then pack our bags for Fuzhou.

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The 2012 China Tour Begins

On my whirlwind run through Taiwan, I sampled some of the early harvest Oolongs and found some interesting prospects. One of them is an Oolong from the famous Shan Lin Xi region. We have offered tea from this farm previously as our Imperial "Milky" Oolong. Obviously, this particular Oolong has a milk-like texture and aroma without added flavorings.

I left firing instructions and have just received the revised samples. After cupping tonight, I am very close to approving and acquiring it as an early harvested Oolong for 2012. I am still waiting for the later Harvested Fu Shao Shan regions, which typically harvest in May due to its higher altitude. I plan to visit there after leading this year's tea tour.

I took off early for the airport last night, fully intended to meet our group of tea touring adventurists in Shanghai in the early evening and to kick off the 2012 tea tour with a good dinner. However, after a seven-hour delay I missed the arrival of the group. It was not until later last night that I limped into the hotel.

Shanghai is nice and cool with no weather problems whatsoever! I hit the sack and woke up with renewed vigor -- ready to kick off the tea tour. I’ll report our progress as we go forward from this point. For breakfast, I am going to share some of the excellent Oolongs samples acquired from Taiwan.

Wish you were here . . .


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