Sunday, September 14, 2014

Guangdong Morning Tea

Drinking fine tea over delicious snacks is a supreme treat for Guangdong people. They like to do in teahouses during the morning.  Locally known as "one cup of tea and two snacks," the morning tea is regarded by the Guangdong people as "a joy of life."



Teahouses in Guangdong serve various kinds of teas and famous Guangdong-style snacks. The tea includes black tea, green tea, Oolong tea, jasmine tea and Liubao tea. The snacks include steamed buns stuffed with diced grilled pork, diced pig fat and sugar, minced pork, shrimp or crab meat, steamed dumplings with the dough gathered at the top with various fillings; and all kinds of flaky cakes. Before going to work in the morning, drinking a fragrant pot of tea and relishing the delicious snacks in a teahouse, proves a most relaxing experience. In recent years, with business burgeoning in Guangdong Province, people like holding business talks in teahouses. In Hainan Province, the practice has reached the extent that you can not enter the business circles without frequenting a teahouse. Drinking tea for business purposes has become a peculiar way of life in Guangdong and Hainan provinces, although it is far removed from the Chinese traditional purpose of tasting tea.


Unlike those in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, and in northern provinces, Guangdong teahouses provide breakfast for customers. Called "morning tea" by Guangdong people, it evinces the importance of tea at breakfast. Today Guangdong-style morning tea has gone beyond Guangdong and Hainan provinces and found its way into large hotels in Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai, although patrons do not number as high as those in Guangdong.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Tea-Drinking Customs In Fujian And Guangdong Of China

"Gongfu" Tea In Fujian And Guangdong Provinces Of China

China is the home of tea, and drinking tea is a national obsession.  Chinese are the most likely to delight in drinking tea as well as being the most discriminating in the way tea is made and served.

Tea-drinking tradition from the Ming and Qing dynasties, which features infused tea, has been inherited in most parts of China. But people from different areas favor different teas. Generally, people in northern China, northeastern China and Sichuan Province, love jasmine tea; those living in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces favor green tea; and along the southeast coast, Oolong tea is preferred. People from Hunan Province have an interesting habit: they chew and swallow the tea leaves after drinking the infusion.




Distinct customs in different areas and minorities compose the variety of China's tea-drinking tradition.


Preparing and drinking "Gongfu" tea involves elaborate procedures. This tea is popular in Yunxiao, Zhangzhou, Dongshan and Xiamen in southern Fujian Province, and Chaozhou and Shantou in Guangdong Province.


The antique-looking "Gongfu"tea set includes "Four Treasures for Tea-Making": one is a reddish-brown kettle, "yushuwei," with an oblate body that holds only 200g of water; the second is "Shantou Wind Stove," which is a small, exquisite and vented stove, used to boil water. Today, for convenience, many people use the electric stove. The third is a teapot, "Mengchen Pot," the size of a goose egg, made of zisha, a fine clay from Yixing that holds just over 50g of water. The last is "Ruochen'ou," an extraordinarily small cup about the size of half a pingpong ball, which holds only 4ml of the brew. Usually, four cups make a set and are placed on an oval tea tray. Besides pottery tea sets, there are porcelain ones, which look distinct with blue floral patterns glazed on a white background.




With "Four Treasures", you can make tea. In preparing "Gongfu" tea, you must undertake a unique process. First, rinse the tea set in clean spring water and place it on a tea tray. When the water in the kettle is boiling, use some to warm the pot and cups. Then put tea leaves in the tea pot until it is half-full and add boiling water until it reaches the brim. Purists will immediately pour out the first infusion and warm the tea cups with it. Again, fill the pot with boiled water, using the lid to skim off the foam before covering the pot to preserve the aroma. Arrange the four cups in a square, their mouths all touching. Wait a moment (less than one minute) before lifting the pot and moving it in circles over the cups while pouring tea until each cup is filled. Known locally as "General Guan Patrollinging the Town," this ensures that the density of tea is the same in each cup. Even the final and most dense bit is poured evenly into the four cups-- known as "General Han Xin Dispatching Troops."


Once the tea has been poured in the tea cups, that does not mean you can drink it immediately. According to the practice of "Gongfu" tea, you should first lift the cup to your nose and inhale the fragrance. Then take a sip, and hold it in your mouth to taste its flavor; in no time you will feel your nose and mouth filling with the fragrance, your throat moistening, and the secretion of saliva increasing, which will comfort your whole body. Add more water to the pot and enjoy another round of tea. After, at most, the fifth round, replace the tea dregs with new tea and start over.


The best tea for "Gongfu" tea is Oolong -- for green tea has a "cold nature" that pains the stomach and black tea has a "hot nature" that seems to dry the stomach; neither is suitable to be drunk undiluted. Only the half-fermented Oolong, having a "warm nature" and enduring infusion, is best for "Gongfu" tea.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

10 Famous Tea Paintings

Tea has been popular during Victorian age, so the tea cups or pots were also frequently part of the paintings depicting the everyday life. The Impressionists often included tea in their visual stories, which shows the increasing popularity of the beverage. The contemporary art also has a taste for tea, as you will certainly discover in our top 10 famous tea paintings.

 # 1 Five O’Clock Tea by Julius LeBlanc Stewart


Julius LeBlanc Stewart (1855 – 1919) was an American artist from Philadelphia who spent his career in Paris. He exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon from 1878 into the early 20th century, and helped organize the Americans in Paris section of the 1894 Salon.

This painting is suggestively named “Five O’Clock Tea”, depicting an afternoon tea meal which was highly popular during the painter’s time. “Five O’Clock Tea” was finished in 1884 and presently can be admired in a private collection of Iris and Gerald Cantor, New York.


# 2 Tea in the Park by Edward Cucuel



Edward Alfred Cucuel (1875-1954) was born in San Francisco, California. He is best known for his paintings of sunny genre scenes of boating, afternoon tea, sleeping or reading in landscape settings. According to Fritz von Ostini, in his book “Der Maler Edward Cucuel” the artist never employed professional models, preferring instead to represent his friends and family.

This is an impressionist painting depicting what was really fashionable back in the days of Edward Cucuel, long walks in the park, the joy of admiring the nature and the afternoon tea custom  highly enjoyed by society elites.

# 3 Tea by George Dunlop Leslie


George Dunlop Leslie (1835 – 1921) was an English genre painter, author and illustrator. His early works, showed the strong influence of the Pre-Raphaelites, but he settled into a more academic, aesthetic, style of painting with the aim of showing pictures from the sunny side of English domestic life. Leslie was also an author and had several books published.

“Tea” was painted in 1885. It depicts a very young woman in the dress of the 1700s, standing behind a table covered with a white cloth. She is about to serve tea from a blue willow tea set. Cups with spoons, cream jug, and sugar bowl with lump sugar are all ready on a tray. Behind her is a wooden chair and a white paneled wall.

# 4 Lady at the Tea Table by Mary Stevenson Cassatt

 
Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1844 – 1926) was an American painter and printmaker. She lived much of her adult life in France, where she first became friends with Edgar Degas and later she exhibited her work among the Impressionists. Cassatt often created images of the social and private lives of women, with particular emphasis on the intimate and affectionate bonds between mothers and children.

This painting was a gift from the painter to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. She donated the painting in 1923.

# 5 Tea Time by Georges Croegaert


Georges Croegaert (1848-1923) was a Belgian academic painter. Though he was born in Antwerp, Belgium, he spent most of his life in Paris. His name is associated with both classicism and anti-clerical art.

The painting is depicting a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church enjoying a cup of tea. The body position of the priest and the luxury which surrounds the cleric makes this picture a silent critic brought to the higher representatives of the Catholic Church and the luxury they indulged in.

# 6 The Tea Party by Frederic Soulacroix


Frederic Soulacroix (1858-1933) was an Italian academic painter. He was an artist who enjoyed an enormous success during his life. His paintings were mainly for private customers coming from USA, England, Germany (Munich especially), South America, and Canada. He is also famous for making a portrait of Queen Margherita, wife of King Umberto I of Italy and those of the King of Siam and his brother, Prince Sanbasaska.

This is a painting found in a private collection depicting a social scene very popular in those days, tea parties. The ladies wear evening dresses very fashionable at the end of the 19th century.

# 7 Washing Dishes – Emily and her Tea by Charles Courtney Curran


Charles Courtney Curran (1861 – 1942) was an American painter. He is famous for his canvases depicting beautiful women in beautiful settings.

The picture depicts a sweet small girl around seven years old washing a tea set. It is an amazing picture of domestic life during Curran’s time.

# 8 At the Tea Table by Konstantin Korovin


Konstantin Korovin (1861-1939) was a leading Russian Impressionist painter and a talented stage designer. In 1885, Saava Mamontov hired Korovin to design the set for his private opera. By 1900, Korovin had become the designer for the Imperial Theater in Moscow, which is known as the Bolshoi Theater.

This is a painting dating from 1888 depicting a domestic family scene of an afternoon meal and as you can observe the teapot occupies the center of the table suggesting that it was an important piece of kitchenware and that tea was a fashionable beverage.

# 9 Lovely Vase and Cup of Tea by Jamie Paterno


Jamie Paterno is a contemporary Argentinean artist known for the use of vibrant colors delicately spread across canvases in figurative works and still life. The artist graduated from the Fine Art College at Seoul Women’s University and is currently affiliated with several art associations. She has exhibited extensively in both South Korea and the United States since 1995.

This is a painting which places a nice cup of tea near a lovely vase as the painter herself names it, featuring vibrant colors and a childish touch remanding of fairy tales which have long inspired the artist since her early childhood.

# 10 Afternoon Tea by Richard Emile Miller


Richard E. Miller (1875 – 1943) was a major American Impressionist painter and a member of the famous Giverny Colony of American Impressionists. He was mainly a figurative painter, known for his paintings of women posing languidly in interiors or outdoor settings. He is best described as a Decorative Impressionist.

The painting was finished in 1910 and it depicts women in a sunlit landscape framed by a large, vividly patterned Japanese parasol, which exemplifies Miller’s decorative technique.

We are really curious which one of these amazing paintings has enchanted your eyes and heart. If you know other paintings where tea is depicted, feel free to share them here.







Saturday, May 3, 2014

Bang Dong, Lincang(临沧,邦东) - A Place Producing Amazing Good Pu Erh Tea

Bangdong Pu’er tea is originated in Bangdong Township, Linxiang District, Lincang City, Yunnan Province.

We go deep into front-line tea region, continuously summarize and propose “Three Bangdong Wonders”, thinking that’s the best interpretation of Bangdong Pu Erh Tea: the first wonder: co-existence of ancient tea tree with deep roots and luxuriant leaves and rock; the second wonder: mountains with high altitude and steep mountains are covered by cloud and fog; the third wonder: fragrant flowers blooming in the field, the tea tastes sweet, refreshing and mellow. The three wonders make “rock charm and flower fragrance” become the regional charm of the ancient Bangdong tea.

Bangdong Pu’er tea mainly consists of ancient tea, those tea trees are over 250 years old. As time changes and people migrate, some artificially cultivated tea trees distributed halfway up the Daxue Mountain gradually integrate with the lush forest, for nobody manages, protects and let alone picks tea leaves from them any more. Among tea trees which are being picked all year round, mostly are those with tree trunk base circumference of 80~120 centimeters. The tea plants grow much better in fertile and low-lying land with abundant water, while plants in dry ridges are thin and have smaller branches compared with other ones that bear the same age, which is especially true when it comes to the ancient tree plants growing along the Lancang River. 

Driving from Lincang City along the Lincang-Bangdong Highway to Bangdong village, what come into view are those lush and exuberant tea gardens where you can see 5 or 6 meters high tea trees here and there. On the two sides of the over 20-kilometer-long road passing from Laojie village, Bangdong to Mangang village bordering on Yun County, tea gardens mix with the forest, people sometimes even can’t tell whether it is the forest or a tea garden. 

Located in the middle reaches of the Lancang River, Bangdong tea region is different from Banna tea region located in the lower reaches not only in its higher altitude, but also in its huge altitude difference. Bangdong tea region enjoys a highest altitude of over 3200 meters and a lowest one of 700 meters which is in Xigui village; such a huge difference forms a landscape of gorges, lofty mountains and steep hills. Tall and upright mountains and criss-cross rivers makes Bangdong a fairyland enveloped in clouds and mist; only magnificence and splendidness can be used to describe Bangdong’s sea of clouds. In addition, this region is abundant in rocks, thus many old tea trees grow in stone cracks. As Lu Yu, a tea expert back in Tang Dynasty, wrote in his master, the Book of Tea, “The upper layer of the soil is composed by broken stones”.

High mountains enveloped in clouds and mist, lofty mountains and steep hills and rock-covered region not only forms Bangdong’s unique landscape but also contributes to the natural endowment that makes Bangdong tea outstanding. Tea produced here tastes sweet and smells fragrant; moreover, it contains high content of amino acid, which gives the tea a refreshing taste. As is known to all, “strong but not refreshing” is the feature of Yunnan big-leaf tea. It’s strong because its tea polyphenol content is relatively high, therefore it tastes bitter and mellow, quenching your thirst and leaving a sweet aftertaste. While, it’s not that refreshing because compared with small-leaf green tea of high quality from other provinces, Yunnan big-leaf tea contains a lower content of amino acid. 

The biggest endowment of Bangdong tea is its higher content of amino acid compared with other types of Yunnan big-leaf tea. A fresh feeling fills your mouth, relieving your thirst and leaving a sweet aftertaste, all those makes you feel as if you’re eating an olive; it gives your throat a lasting cool and refreshing feeling as if having a peppermint candy this time, which is ingenious beyond description. 




















Saturday, April 5, 2014

The current prices of the 2014 first crops high end Chinese teas:

West Lake Dragon Well:

1.Meijiawu(梅家坞)Cultivar 43, harvested on 18th March:  USD820/KG
2.Shi Feng(狮峰)Qunti Cultivar(Native Mixed Cultivar), harvested on 21th March: USD1000/KG

Dongting Biluochun:

3.Dongshan(东山)harvested on 10th March:  USD540/KG

Anji Baicha:

4. hengqianshan(恒乾山)harvested on 16th March:  USD 320/KG

Fuxi Huangshan Mao Feng

5. Fuxi- the best producing area of Huangshan Maofeng(富溪)harvested on 1th April:  USD190/KG

Keemun Aromatic Snail Tea 

6. Qimen  harvested on 28th March:   USD220/KG

Keemun Golden Needle Tea 

7. Qimen  harvested on  28th March:  USD220/KG

Pls note:

1. All the above teas are in very limited quantities especially Shifeng and Meijiawu Dragon Well. So if you need, pls pay to our PAYPAL account: viconyteas@msn.cn (The amount equals to the price*the quantity, the minimum order quantity is combined 1000grams, 100grams per kind) asap. According to our company's new policy, we won't reserve teas for anyone if prepayment isn't made. ViconyTeas is a Chinese tea supplier & wholesaler so we are sorry to say we don't accept orders from personal consumers.

2. As all the above teas are in very limited quantities, no samples would be provided. Pls don't send sample request to us. We recommend you purchase small amount if you aren't familiar with them. For tea dealers, we suggest you do in a prudent way as the teas are very expensive and have a small target market. 

3. We will ship within 4-8 days after we get your payment by EMS Express of China Post.  It is expected to arrive in 7 days after the shipment. The courier fee will be covered by ourselves and won't be charged additionally on you. If the tea is sold out, we would refund your payment via PAYPAL.

4. The teas are by default to be packed in 50grams aluminium foil bags.

5. You can send email to wholesale@viconyteas.com to contact us.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

How To Find Quality Pu-erh? | The Factors That Decide The Quality of Puerh Tea

We need to understand essential factor that creates strong Hou Yun(喉韵). The minerals influence the intensity of Hou Yun. For example, iron makes good quality. Generally Pu-erh tea that gives strong Hou Yun is very rich in iron.

The question is how to find Puerh tea that is rich in minerals. We should know the logic first in order to look for the ideal quality. In Yunnan, there are more than a few thousands types of Pu-erh tea. It is impossible to taste all the tea one by one. It is important for us to set a list of criteria and select the tea accordingly. Please see the following criteria that we always use when we look for quality Pu-erh.



 Altitude And Latitude

 

 High altitude is essential not only for Pu-erh, but also for all kinds of tea. With higher elevation, tea trees receive stronger sunshine in daytime, yet the temperature at night is very low. Under such extreme weather condition, tea leaves are able to produce more substance and preserve it because of less consumption at night. Eventually tea gives a very rich flavor and strong in Hou Yun.

Geographically, the South Yunnan is facing Vietnam and Laos. The weather there is as tropical as South East Asia. On the other hand, the weather in South West to West Yunnan is much colder on account of the higher latitude. In general, the gap of temperature between daytime and nighttime is even wider at higher latitudes. However if the latitude is too high, it is too cold at night and not suitable for growing tea.


The Age of Tea Trees

 

 Some places that are situated in South Yunnan such as Bu Lang Shan (布朗山) or Lao Ban Zhang (老班章) exceptionally produce good quality tea. These two areas are not located at highe latitude. The lack of latitude has been made up with the age of tea trees and some other factors. In Yunnan, the age of tree is considered as a very important factor in producing quality Pu-erh Tea. The root grows longer when the age of tree gets older. With longer root, the surface area of roots increased and hence the ability of tree to absorb mineral from the soil is increased.

In Yunnan, the tea tree is classified into 4 different categories as follows.


Garden Tea

Literally it is the tea made from the tea garden. In Yunnan the history of garden tea is short. In general, majority of ripe Pu-erh is made from garden tea. 

Comparatively, garden tea gives a weak Hon Yun in general, unless the garden is situated at very hgh mountain that is more than 2000m.


 

Middle age tea bush grown at mountain

Tea tree grows in the mountain and the age of tree is at around 100-300 years old. The tea tree is planted on the slope of the mountain in between wild-grown native trees. The Hou Yun of tea from this category is much stronger than the garden tea in general. It is not only because of longer root, but also thanks to the minerals provided by the fallen leaves from native tree and grass from the native plants growing in surrounding environment. It gives intermediate level of Hou Yun if the altitude of mountain is less than 2000m. For those that are situated more than 2000m, tea gives a very strong Hou Yun.


Old Tree


It is referring to the tea trees that age more than 300 years , and growing on the slope of mountain. Tealeaves harvested from such old tea trees are considered as the best raw material in Yunnan. In fact, Pu-erh tea made of tealeaves of such old trees gives extremely strong Hou Yun. The freshly plucked leaves from those old trees itself gives strong Hou Yun. However the price of these teas tends to be very high.

Due to the limited supply of leaves from old trees, the output is very limited. In any case, old tea tree does not guarantee the best quality. If tea is made from the middle age tree that is grown at very high mountain (>2000m), the quality could be as good as the tea made from those old trees, moreover the price is lower. Both middle age tree and old tree is grown under the organic environment.  As they grow in the mountain, the tea trees are treated just like native trees in the mountain.



Wild Tree

 

The last category is called “wild tree”. This is referring to the native tea trees grown deep inside the jungle. I guess you must have seen the Pu-erh tea that labeled as “wild tea” (野生茶). However many of those acclaimed “wild tea” are not the wild tree but ancient tree. People often call it “wild” for the tea planted in the mountain. In Yunnan, this terminology seems to be often applied in the tea market in order to simply attract the customers.
There are genuine wild trees available in Yunnan. They are often seen at higher altitude, more than 2000m inside the mountain of South West Yunnan. The wild tea consists of various types in terms of leaf size, shape and not to mention about the taste and flavor. These varieties are made of natural hybrid. Generally wild tea gives very strong after taste and some extent of bitterness.

The typical identity of wild tea is not the size of leaf, but the length of twig. Since tree grows under the shade in the forest, tree try to grow higher and higher in order to get more sunshine. As the result, the twig of wild tea becomes very long.



Frequency of Plucking

 

The earliest plucked tea in the season always gives better quality, while the 2nd or 3rd plucked tea cannot be as good as the 1st plucked tea. There is another secret that affects the quality of tea with regard to tea plucking. If a tea tree has been plucked too many times in this year, it will not produce good quality tea leaves in the next coming year. If tea leaves are plucked only once in spring, there is sufficient time for new grown tea leaves to accumulate minerals spending the rest of year. As a result, the Hou Yun of tea which is plucked in following year will be very strong. On the contrary, if a tea tree is plucked too many times in a year, its tea leaves contain less mineral. If tea plucking is continuously carried out throughout early spring, late spring, summer, early autumn and late autumn, the tea tree has to work very hard in order to produce new batch of leaves. Eventually the tea tree is overworked and fewer minerals remain inside.

This problem becomes noticeable especially when the tea becomes popular in the market. Back in 2006-2007, the Pu-erh tea has reached its peak. The market demand of Pu-erh was dramatically increased. No sooner had the farmer produced Pu-erh than it was sold at once. In previous days, tea had been plucked twice a year on an average. However during 2006 to 2007, tea leaves were plucked throughout the whole year. As a result, the tea that was produced in 2008 has less Hou Yun.

 

 Soil Condition


The red soil is suitable for tea. It is basically the same as “red clay” that is rich in iron oxide. Although Yunnan is rich in red soil, certain places have soil that is particularly rich in iron. Wu Liang Shan and Lao Ban Zhang are well-known for their red soil. Tea produced in those areas is relatively good quality.
In addition to the red soil factor, there is one more important factor. In the mountain, the fallen leaves from the native trees accumulate on the ground. These dry leave also carry a lot of minerals. As time goes by, the fallen leaves will be decomposed by microorganism. When rain falls, the remains of decomposed leaves soaked by rain water and will eventually blend into the soil. Tea tree will intake extra minerals and at faster speed. Because of this reason, mountain tea always gives better Hou Yun compared to garden tea, unless the garden tea is planted at extremely high altitude.

 

Weather

 

Just like wine, the quality of tea varies a lot depending on the year of production. For green tea and green oolong tea, we have to drink it within a year since we cannot preserve the tea. As for Pu-erh, we can store it as long as we wish. Hence it is meaningful to know which year is the “quality year” so that you can purchase and stock up a little more tea that is produced in a good year.

Basically the slower the growing speed, the better the quality it becomes. In other word, if a tea tree grows slower, its tea leaves have a better chance to accumulate minerals and organic substances than to consume it for growing purpose. Tea tree grows at night, while flavor and taste is produced in daytime. Tea can keep producing flavor and taste as long as sufficient sunshine is given in daytime regardless of it is growing or not. Growing means consuming. Quality of tea becomes better if the tree grows at slower speed. The same theory is applied to the fruits. The taste of fruit plucked in a rainy day is very thin and less sweet. It is not because sweetness is washed away. It is because the tree consumed its sweetness from the fruit since tree grows faster during rainy days.


In general, the dry and sunny weather is ideal for producing good quality tea. Tea trees absorb a lot of sunshine and conduct photosynthesis. In dry weather, the temperature at night tends to be very low due to radioactive cooling phenomenon. In addition, the semi-draught weather also provides less rain. As a result, tea tree grows slower.
If there is more rain in the spring, the quality of tea will not be good. Tea tree grows faster when sufficient water is provided. With faster growing speed, the taste of tea gets thinner and less Hou Yun.


Yunnan is one of the provinces in China. But its area is even bigger than Japan. The weather in Yunnan is not uniform and varies in different areas. The Southern part of Yunnan is much influenced by the weather of South East Asia, while South West and West Yunnan is affected by continental weather. Because of this reason, we cannot conclude which year is the best for all Yunnan teas. The quality year for each manufacturing area is different. For example, Xishuang Banna was hit by serious drought in 2010. The total output of tea produced in this year is reduced to 1/3 of production in a normal year. Subsequently, the lower output brings up the overall quality of tea although the price of tea increased.
 

Both Factory and Farmer Produce Pu-erh Tea


Pu-erh is mass-produced in the factories and also in small scale by individual farmer using traditional method. Farmers processed tea from their own gardens at the mountain. Their quality is precisely representing the tea grown in their mountain and seldom they carried out blending with tea from other areas. If we want to look for quality tea in Yunnan, we need to control the origin of tea tree. Only the farmers  can supply Pu-erh tea from a homogeneous origin. In particular, to obtain tea made from very old trees, it is necessary to obtain teas produced from farmers.


On the other hand, factories have big plants and many employees. Their objective is to sell tea by large quantity in order to pay for high fixed cost. Some factories also occupy tea gardens in the mountain that may have old trees or situated at higher altitude. However, they do not classify and segregate the quality of raw material according to the precise origin of the tree or the mountain, but to mix all the materials collected from all over the places, in order to even out the quality. Factories are concerned about sustaining a consistent quality of tea that they produced. Their mission is to sell in quantity in order to survive. Under such circumstances, the quality of Pu-erh tea produced by big factories tends to be averaged out. It is indeed possible to get upper-intermediate quality from the factories. But it is very difficult to get high-end quality from the factories.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Are Chinese Teas Safe?

During the recent years, people often heard the bad news about Chinese teas. It is really annoying especially for the people who wish to drink tea for health benefits. Some people stopped consuming Chinese tea as they worried about the safty. Are Chinese teas safe?
 

At first, I think we should realize the fact that China is a very big country with very different situation in different places. I knew that teas produced in some places like Zhe Jiang province were found to have high pesticide residue. I think the main reason is that the environment in some parts of Zhejiang was ruined with the fast urbanization. A quite lot of tea gardens there are big with neat rows of trimmed tea bushes near the urban areas. We can't find forests nearby. Such ecology is fragile because once insects came, they would breed and spread very quickly and possibly consumed the whole tea garden. It became very difficult to control plant diseases and insect pests in such ecology. That is not to say tea produced from such tea gardens inevitably would exceed pesticide residue. If proper measures adopted, the tea can be safe while the balance of controling  plant diseases and insect pests  and pesticide residue is too difficult to be kept. And spurred by the economical interest, people are inclined to make the tea gardens safe on risk of letting the teas unsafe.

It is not the same for many other parts of China. There are a lot of places in China with nice environment. Huangshan, Anhui province is one of such places where is well covered with forests. The ecology here is well balanced. The tea gardens here are small and scattered among the forests of mountains. Good ecology makes the temperature of the tea gardens several degree Celsius lower than the urban areas. And as the tea gardens here are small and scattered, the possibilty of outbreak of plant diseases and insect pests on large scale is very small. Before the end of May each year, when the Spring teas are harvested, no pesticide need to be used here because the temperature is low and insects won't come out that time. 




Tea Gardens In Daguyun, Huangshan, Anhui where Huangshan Maofeng is produced
Tea Garden in Tongmu, Wuyi Mountain, Fujian where Lapsang Souchong is produced
Tea Garden in Qishan, Liu'an, Anhui where Lu'an Gua Pian is produced


When the teas are finished harvesting on June, some kinds of pesticides which conform to the safe standards of EU will be used in the gardens our teas are produced from and at the same time, the tea bushes will be trimmed. By doing so, the tea bushes can be well protected from damaging by insects in the summer. When the teas are harvested next Spring, the pesticide won't remain in the new tealeaves.

We can prove it because each year, companies in the EU source teas from us want to test the teas, each time, the teas we provided from Huangshan area were proven safe and reach the EU Standards. It is one of such reports.  Taiping Houkui is known to be havested later than Huangshan Maofeng and it is one of the teas that was thought to be most difficult to reach the standards.






In fact, EU safe standards are strict enough(stricter than the standards of the USA) and the teas can reach organic standards are quite limited and if we confined to organic teas, we would miss a lot of great Chinese teas while, in 2014, we plan to add more organic teas among our selection.