Monday, November 12, 2012

How to open a tea shop online

If you are passionate about tea, opening a tea shop online may be a great idea. It can help you make money by selling tea and at the same time allow you to enjoy various kinds of tea around the world. As a small tea shop owner, you may begin your tea-selling company with only a computer. It seems easy but making your online tea shop successful is still much challenging. Since four years, we began our oversea door-to-door tea wholesale service, we have gotten to know and cooperate with quite a large number of owners of online tea shops. Some of them now have already had a prosperous business but some of them shut down their tea shops just one or two years after they launched them. Why? Here, we just listed several steps of opening an online tea shop with some pieces of advice for you.

At first, if you have already had a physical tea shop, you can miss a few following steps but we still suggest you should hurry up if you still haven't had a tea shop online. You really shouldn't miss the web to cost-effectively reach your countless potential customers and if you are a novice and know little about tea, you should be cautious. Tea is a niche involving a great deal of expertise and you can't expect to earn a lot in a short time.
1. Learn about tea

There are six major types of tea--white, black, oolong, green, dark and yellow tea--and thousands of blends, brews and names within those groups. Tea has significance in various cultures and is touted for health benefits. If you are running a tea shop, you would be expected to be asked questions about tea. You'll need to be knowledgeable about the regions tea comes from, the processing methods for tea, health benefits of tea and importantly how to store different kinds of teas. 

Unlike other businesses you can choose, there is a lot to learn besides just how to open a tea shop. Read about tea books, join groups and go to seminars and presentations to get a good understanding of all. Some free online resources are also highly recommended such as Tea Guardian, Chinese Teas 101, TeaUSA and Vicony Tea Encyclopedia. (More resources can be found here). It would take a lot of time for you to learn. If you would get bored of it, you should consider whether you should give it up as early as possible.

2. Register your business

Register your business with the Internal Revenue Service. Fill out an application providing applicable details about your online tea shop. Once you're registered, an employer identification number, or EIN, is submitted for tax purposes.

3. Build an online presence

Build an online presence. You can sell tea through established websites such as Amazon and eBay but we recommend you create you own website. Choose a decent company to help you build an attracting online tea shop. Each tea in it should have photos, descriptions and prices. Choose a reliable Web-hosting company to host the online tea shop. Its service need to be stable.

4. Purchase tea

Purchase tea by wholesale. Carefully select teas that are proven to be popular, along with rare specialties that can attract individual customers. Try to cover more kinds of teas from China, India, Japan and Sri Lanka. Try to include green, black, white, oolong, Puerh and unique blends.

If you're running a business at home, you may not have a big space to store stock (important: different kinds of teas should be kept in the different ways). You can opt for a drop-shipping arrangement but we don't think it is a good idea because you can't keep your customers information confidential and it is also difficult for you to make your products privately labeled and sometimes easily cause a delay in shipment so it is great to cooperate with the companies that can wholesale bulk tea in small quantities. For example, Vicony Teas Company have a wide range of Chinese teas and you can wholesale from 1KG per kind. 

It is a good idea to use packages with your private labels. During the early stage, we recommend you choose common packages such as blank aluminum foil bags or paper bags pasted with your own labels. It is economical and at the same time can show your identity.

Take the storage requirements of different kinds of teas into consideration when you purchase tea. For example, green tea should be put in cold storage so don't purchase too much if your ice chest have already no space to store it. Black teas can be kept well for more than two years at room temperature only when they are sealed properly so you can make a relatively large purchase if you are satisfied with the batch of it.

Remember the proper time to purchase different teas. For example, you can start purchasing the best Chinese green teas of the current year such as Dragon Well or Biluochun in April while you need to wait and buy such as Jasmine tea and Wuyi Rock Oolong of the current year until Mid-September.

5. Promote your online tea shop.

Promote your tea shop in various ways such as social networking, creating a tea blog, tweeting daily tea-related posts and creating a Facebook page for your tea shop. Signing up through an affiliate network to create online ads for your tea store is also recommended. Consult with a SEO & SEM specialist to make out a promotion plan and you can also find several books to learn SEO & SEM knowledge and apply them to your online tea shop.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Will Traditional Yellow Tea Revive And Gain Popularity?

Yellow Tea In History 

Yellow tea is a variety of tea only produced in China. With a very long history, it was found to be recorded in the books as early as in the Tang Dynasty(618-907). During that time, the three most famous yellow bud tea: Huoshan Huangya, Mengding Huangya and Junshan Yinzhen have all become famous. The techniques and methods for making yellow tea matured in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and yellow tea came into the prime time during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). While when it came into the modern time, with black tea and oolong tea being more and more popular, yellow tea was gradually disappearing from our eyes due to its highly complicated production skills and techniques.

Traditional Type Huoshan Huangya (Huoshan Yellow Bud Tea) Made By Heng Yongzhi

Yellow Tea Today

Now when we try to look for some yellow tea, it turned out to be a challenging task. Mr Zhou (周长瑞先生, Zhou Changrui) is a tea enthusiastic who has been dedicated in yellow tea promotion for years in Beijing. He said for the three most famous yellow bud teas, there is now only Junshan Yinzhen commercially produced but it is now as expensive as gold as it its production was monopolized by one business with very limited quantity each year. He estimated the annual output of quality traditional Mengding Huangya is no more than 300KG, the less for Huoshan Huangya. Now, it is common that people even in tea business for many years may have never seen traditional Huoshan Huangya or Mengding Huangya in China.

Yellow Tea is A Transitional Tea

Like Oolong tea, in fact, yellow tea is also a kind of transitional tea. Unlike oolong between black and green tea, yellow tea is a kind of tea between green and dark tea. There are fermentation processes in both black tea and dark tea production. The fermentation in black tea production is taken place by the oxidation of the endogenous enzyme existing in the tealeaves while the fermentation in yellow tea and dark tea are different. They both are the processes of Hydrothermal oxidation and microbial fermentation. In yellow tea production, it may be called smothering process (Men-huang, 悶黄) or wrapping process (Bao-huang, 包黄). In dark tea production, it is called as Wo-dui. The main difference is that the fermentation in the latter is much more intensive than the former.

As a kind of transitional tea, Oolong tea can be made much like green tea such as modern Tieguanyin and it can also be much like black tea such as some kinds of Wuyi Rock tea. It is also the same for yellow tea. Although the Huoshan Huangya in the market is now mostly made in the green tea style, there is still some made adopting the smothering method(Men-huang, 悶黄), a slow oxidation process. The only difference between it and the traditional Huoshan Huangya is that it has a much shorter smothering process than the traditional one. The traditional one usually has a smothering process up to seven days while the modern Huoshan Huangya may have a less than 1 day smothering process. Some people don't see such modern Huoshan Huangya as yellow tea but we and most of the local tea producers think they should be. We think any tea when adopting smothering process in production to make it taste mellower can belong to yellow tea.

A Tea Review of Traditional Huoshan Huangya
(The Right is Mr Heng)

Why there is no traditional Huoshan Huangya in the market.

We visited Mr Heng (衡永志先生,Heng Yongzhi) during the early July in Huoshan county. He is now awarded as "the Inheritor of Intangible Culture of Traditional Huoshan Huangya Production Skills and Techniques" by Anhui Provincial Government. He said the skills and techniques to make traditional Huoshan Huangya hasn't been lost as some people thought. It is, to a large extent, attributed to his efforts for more than 20 years. To save the ancient skills and techniques of making traditional Huoshan Huangya, he visited almost all of the old tea farmers and masters and learnt from them after he graduated from the Anhui Agricultural College in 1979. With his efforts, the skills and techniques were preserved and even improved. The traditional type Huoshan Huangya he made surprised Chinese famous tea professors and experts and was highly praised by them. While the situation of traditional Huoshan Huangya is still grim "Now there are no more than three people who can make such traditional Huoshan Huangya and we only make no more than 150KG each year. It is only booked in advance by the acquaintances or friends." Mr Heng told us. The production of traditional Huoshan Huangya requires intensive labor and much time compared to green version, leading to a very high cost. Not sure about the market, Mr Heng said they would not make more. "For such expensive tea while having a look like green tea stored for many years, we would take a high risk if we make more" Mr Heng said.

How to distinguish yellow tea from green tea stored for years

Yes, just as Mr Heng said, there are two main reasons that makes the traditional Huoshan Huangya can't be commercially produced now. One is the production cost and the other is the look of the tea.  Traditional Huoshan Huangya looks much like green tea stored for many years. For people unfamiliar with it is reluctant to try it. Mr Heng told us in fact, it is simple to distinguish it. You can put the teas into a Gaiwan warmed with boiled water, close the lid and shake the gaiwan for one minute, then you take the lid off and smell it. There would be a nice aroma of corn, chestnuts combined with glutinous rice if it is traditional Huoshan Huangya.

What health benefits does Yellow Tea has

Yellow tea belongs to fermented tea. As a great deal of Digestive enzyme occured during its smothering process (Men-huang, 悶黄), a slow oxidation process, yellow tea is much beneficial for the spleen and stomach. It is good at correcting indigestion,stimulating appetite and helping losing weight.

The natural substance which is effective in anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory is remained up to 85% in yellow tea after processing, making it having its own distinctive health benefits. Recent scientific studies found yellow tea rich in tea polyphenols, polysaccharide, vitamins and amino acids has special effect on preventing and curing esophageal cancer.

The Final Question:

Although green tea has a number of health benefits, some people can't consume it as it may cause stomach upset. It is because of its irritancy while yellow tea improved on it. For the people who wish to obtain the health benefits and at the same time avoid the irritancy of green tea, yellow tea is no doubt the first choice. Then will traditional yellow tea revive and gain popularity?

It is hard to say. Currently, we think there are at least two main obstacles. One is that the huge production cost of yellow tea compared to that of green tea. The other is that people almost never heard about it, not to mention knowing about it even in China.

Pls note: 

The information in the article, to a large extent, comes from two persons: Mr Zhou, a tea enthusiastic who has been dedicated in yellow tea promotion for up to six years in Bejing and he sometimes holds yellow tea tasting parties with the tea connoisseurs, tea lovers and tea businessmen in Beijing and Mr Heng, he is a Huoshan Huangya tea master in Huoshan county awarded as "the Inheritor of Intangible Culture of traditional Huoshan Huangya production skills and techniques" by Anhui provincial government. They two gave us much help when we made the investigation into the situation of yellow tea.

Thanks for Mr Zhou and Mr Heng' help.

We don't gurantee here the 100% correctness of the above information as we failed to find authorative materials to prove part of the above information. 

For any use of it, pls indicate the source here!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A so-called Dongting Biluochun, Genuine or Fake?

About one month ago, a tea company in Dongshan,Suzhou approached us for cooperation. They sent to us several samples which are at very tempting prices (much lower than the prices at which we currently sourced Dongting Biluochun). We at first don't have a high expectation of such Biluochun. Having in tea business for years, we know quite well about the market. We knew it was impossible to get authentic Dongting Biluochun at such good prices.

While when we received and opened the bag of the sample, it still amazed us. The appearance of the dried tealeaves is very beautiful and the aroma is nice. One of us even doubted and asked:" Maybe they didn't cheat us and it was authentic Dongting Biluochun?" 

We brewed it and drank and then we took out our Dongting Biluochun and made a comparision again. Now, we are pretty sure it wasn't authentic but we admitted it was still a good tea. It is not easy to distinguish it from the authentic Dongting Biluochun. We are now even sure it isn't Jiangsu or Zhejiang Biluochun. Then where was it made from? We now have our own
conjecture but we are afraid that it is inappropriate to say it here. Now here pls let us tell you how to tell it apart and help you refrain from being cheated by some dishonest vendors.

We can distinguish it from authentic ones from two aspects: appearance and taste/flavor.

We used the sample 1 of the so-called Dongting Biluochun (the best one) and our Special 1 Grade Dongting Biluochun. Both are harvested before QingMing (5th April).

The following are the dried tealeaves photos of the two ( the first is of the so-called Dongting Biluochun):

You can find the difference is very small but they are still distinguishable. At first, the dried tealeaves of the authentic Biluochun is thinner and slimmer and tighter than the so-called one. It is the main and the most obvious difference that can help us tell them apart. Secondly, the authentic Dongting Biluochun doesn't has so much white hairs covered as the so-called one.

The following are the tea brewed photos of the two ( the first is of the so-called Dongting Biluochun):

The difference existing in taste and aroma between the two is much bigger than that in appearance. The authentic Dongting Biluochun is flowery, floral and fruity while such notes in the aroma of the so-called one aren't differentiable. The so-called Dongting Biluochun is much grassy. If brewed heavily, there is bitterness existing in both of the two kinds of Biluochun while the feeling of the bitterness is quite different. You can feel the bitterness of the authentic Dongting Biluochun but it would soon disappear and then you would feel persistent sweet taste lingering in your mouth and throat while the unpleasant bitterness of the so-called Dongting Biluochun would stay in your mounth for quite a long time and can't soon convert to the sweet aftertaste. In addition, you can find the infusion of the authentic Dongting Biluochun is much clearer than that of the so-called one.

By the way, according to what we know, such so-called Dongting Biluochun is now quite common in the market even in some of the biggest and the most famous tea stores in China. It is a good tea and we think it is ok to be sold as Biluochun at the reasonable prices but if it was sold to you in the name of Dongting Biluochun and at high prices, then you would be screwed.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Birthplace of Camellia Plants

In 1824, British explorer Major Robert Bruce discovered a wild tea tree some 43 feet (about 13.1 meters tall and three feet (about 0.9 meters) in diameter in Sadiya of the Assam region in India. Therefore, western scholars deduced that India was the hometown of tea.

In fact, The Classic of Tea recorded a tea tree about one meter in diameter in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). About the same size as the one found by Robert Bruce, but some 1100 years earlier.

In 1961, Chinese archeologists discovered in Yunnan Province a wild large tea tree which was 32.12 meters tall and about 1,700 years old. Its height and age both were world No.1 among camellia plants. It still remains the largest and oldest wild tea tree that has been found in the world.

The tea tree is of the species Camellia Sinensis. Camellia is a rather primitive plant species and the tea tree is a relatively primitive member of the genus Camellia. According to research, the tea plant evolved at least 60-70 million years ago. There are 23 genera and over 380 varieties of camellia plants in the world, of which, 15 genera and over 260 varieties are found in China.

China is the country which first discovered wild big tea trees and has most numerous wild large tea trees. Tea trees in China are normally found in Yunnan Province, Guizhou Province and Sichuan Province. As large and high arbors in these areas, the tea trees show typical primitive features, indicating that the southwestern area of China is the birthplace of Camellia plants, including tea

Bada Wild Ancient Tea Tree
More than 2700 years old, found in 1961 in Bada Mountain, Menghai County, XichuanBanna. In addition, there are 80000 mu wild ancient tea trees scattered among the seven counties in Yunnan.

Banwai Transitional Ancient Tea Tree
More than 900 years old, found in 1991 in Banwai village, Lancang County. It was seen as the living fossil of the origin by the tea industry.

Nannuoshan Cultivated Ancient Tea Tree
More than 800 years old, found in 1953.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tong Mu - the Core Producing Area of Lapsang Souchong

After we published our blogs about Lapsang Souchong in April this year, we received a lot of emails and messages wishing that we would introduce more about Lapsang Souchong and Tong Mu, the core producing area of Lapsang Souchong. Today, we will let you know more about them. The photos we used were collected from the ones we took during our last three visits to there, mainly September, 2011 to the Guadun village of Tong Mu and March, 2012 to the Miaowan, Tong Mu. There are quite a few small villages scattered in Tong Mu. Among them, Guadun is probably the most well-known one, followed with Jiangwan, Mali and Miaowan.

Tong Mu (桐木), a village named after Tong Mu Guan (桐木关), at the center of the Wuyi nature reserve with an average altitude 1100 meters and the highest altitude of 2158 meters is at the north of Fujian province, bordering Jiangxi province. It is the fractured zone of Wuyi mountain largely covered with primeval forests. Wuyi nature reserve which is 565 square Kilometers in area is famous for the biodiversity. Set up as the national nature reserve as early as 1979, the ecological environment is well preserved here.  It is now praised as" the paradise of birds", "the kingdom of snake" and "the world of insects".

By the way, in 1848, Englishman Botanist Robert Fortune came to Tong Mu and succeeded in collecting the seeds of tea trees and obtaining the secrets of the tea production. Before that time, people in the West even didn't know that the black tea and green tea were made of the same tealeaves from the same plants and with the help of Robert Fortune, British East India Company began to grow and make tea in India.

The monument in the photo was set up around 2009 in memory of the birth of LapsangSouchong, the first black tea in the world in Jiangwan, Tong Mu.  It was unveiled by the 97 years old Zhang Tianfu, the famous and highly respected person of tea industry in China in 2009. The characters inscribed on it were" Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong Fa Yuan Di"(the place of origin of Lapsang Souchong in Chinese):

The panoramic view of Guadun village of Tong Mu:

The tea gardens in Guadun of Tong Mu:

The garden in Miaowan of Tong Mu:

Tea harvesting in Guadun of Tong Mu:

Only single buds picked for making Jin Jun Mei:

One bud with two or three leaves used for making Chi Gan black tea:

Tea gardens in Tong Mu have begun to be developed since several hundreds of years ago. Now with quite a large number of people moving from here to the outside urban areas during recent years, many of them were abandoned without human care. The tea trees in the photos were all more than 100 years and you can see it is taller even than one man. Black tea made of the tealeaves picked from such ancient tea trees is called as Lapsang Laozong which is quite good with a typical flavor people called as " Lao Zong Wei"(Ancient Tea Tree Flavor).

Some tea leaves of the ancient tea trees turn to be purple. Purple tealeaves were seen as the best by Lu Yu, the ancient Chinese sage of tea.

Related Posts:

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Different Kinds of Taiping Houkui Separated By Its Production Methods

Is the Taiping Houkui totally handmade? How can we tell the Taiping Houkui is handmade or not by its appearance? What is Nie Jian Houkui and what is Bu Jian Houkui? These are the frequently asked questions. Here we will elaborate on how to tell them.

Taiping Houkui can be mainly divided into three kinds by its production methods. They are Nie Jian, Li Jian and Bu Jian respectively. Now, Nie Jian and Bu Jian Houkui are the commonly found ones on the market. Among them, Nie Jian is almost entirely handmade. Five people can only make 500grams finished tea for more than 1 hour so for the same raw material, if it is made into Nie Jian, the price would be the highest. Li Jian is the almost handmade Taiping Houkui. Machine is usually used in the procedure of Sha Qing (fixation) for Li Jian Houkui.

Bu Jian Houkui is partly hand made. Machine is not only used in the procedure of Sha Qing(fixation) but also in Li Tiao (Shaping) so Bu Jian Houkui appears to be neater and thinner in appearance than Li Jian and Nie Jian and people can easily tell it apart. Bu Jian Houkui is much lower in price and inferior in taste and flavor than its counterparts of Nie Jian and Li Jian if made of the same fresh tealeaves while considering the wide price gap, people may think Bu Jian is a good choice.

Except the three main kinds, sometimes we can find another kind called as Kui Jian on the market. There is no strict requirement for the length, size of the fresh tealeaves to produce Kui Jian so the finished Kui Jian doesn't appears to be as uniform as Nie Jian or Bu Jian. It is usually produced by tea farmers in a casual way sometimes even with picked tealeaves from the remote abandoned tea gardens while you may find very good Kui Jian Houkui but unfortunately it is an unpredictable thing.

Some people may think Bu Jian Houkui is light in taste. That is because Bu Jian Houkui is thin and has a large size so people may throw less amount of tea when brewing it, causing it light in taste.

Quite a number of vendors would show Nie Jian or Li Jian Houkui to you and acclaim they are authentic Taiping Houkui. Is it true? No, Nie Jian, Li Jian or Bu Jian is just defined by its production methods but the authenticity is mainly decided by its producing area. Hou Kui produced from Hou Keng, the core producing area, is mostly Nie Jian but there are still a great deal of Bu Jian Houkui produced in Xinming Township, the original place of Taiping Houkui.

We can see grid marks on the leaves of Nie Jian and Li Jian Houkui. Some vendors take advantage of it and said they are the proof of hand-made authentic Houkui. It is another misleading statement. The grid marks were formed during the procedure of baking. Usually, if there are the grid marks existing, you can only say they are probably Nie Jian or Li Jian Houkui but as we said before, they can't prove its authenticity.

Another common misconception is that Nie Jian is necessarily much expensive than BuJian. It isn't. The main factors deciding the price include producing area, harvesting time and production method so you can't compare the tea price by only considering one or two factors

Nie Jian Houkui捏尖猴魁:

The Nie Jian Houkui in the photos is produced in Hou Keng, Xinming towenship. As Nie Jian Houkui is entirely handmade, it is the highest in price among all the kinds when produced in the same area at the same time. We only purchase small amount of Nie Jian Hou Kui of Hou Keng  for our regular customers each year It is a luxury tea. Nie Jian Houkui of Hou Keng is between USD600 to USD1000/KG during recent years while there are also a great deal of Nie Jian Hou kui from other parts of Xinming township around USD99/KG on the market.

Li Jian Houkui理尖猴魁:

Bu Jian Houkui布尖猴魁:

Kui Jian魁尖):

Related Posts of Taiping Houkui:

The Core Original Place of Taiping Hou Kui

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Core Original Place of Taiping Hou Kui

Taiping Hou Kui (simplified Chinese: 太平猴魁; pinyin: tàipínghóukuí.) tea also named Monkey King Tea is grown in Taiping County, Anhui Province, at the foot of Huangshan Mountain. The tea was first made at the beginning of the 20th century in a small village named Hou Keng (猴坑).

Authentic Taiping Hou Kui is now commonly thought to be only produced in three small remote villages in Xinming township, Taiping county. The celebrity status combined with the small annual output drove the tea to the high-sky price, especially after the Chinese President Hu Jingtao chose it as a national gift presented to foreign leaders or dignitaries during recent years. Now Taiping Hou Kui along with Dragon Well (Long Jing)Green Snail Spring (Biluochun) and Melon Seek (Liu An Gua Pian) are among the Chinese most expensive green tea rank, dwarfing its also well-known cousin Huangshan Mao Feng.

Great taste, nice aroma as well as unique appearance make Taiping Hou Kui distinct among Chinese famous teas. Around mid-April, 2012, we made another trip to Fenghuang Jian, Houkeng, the core original place of Taiping Hou Kui, in an attempt to know more about the amazing and mysterious Chinese green tea. Fenghuang Jian is a small place of Houkeng. Some people thought Wang Kuicheng, the originator of Taiping Hou Kui tea, first created the tea here. Fenghuang in Chinese means Phoenix and Jian here means the beak. Fenghuang Jian in Chinese means “the beak of Phoenix".

Kou Keng is much remote, not to mention Fenghuang Jian. It takes more than two hours by car from the urban area to Houkeng and then there is no road for the car to go through. We have to walk.

It is a tough journey but the scenery gave us much joy.

The sky flames with azaleas.

We nearly arrived after walking for more than one hour. There is a stone tablet at the roadside, indicating Fenghuang Jian is the original place of Taiping Hou Kui and Wang Kuicheng is the originator. It also mentioned that Taiping Hou Kui tea won the gold prize in the Expo held in Panama in 1915.

There are tea bushes everywhere. The local tea cultivar is unique. It is called"Shi Da" cultivar, belonging to the medium-leaf variety, famous for strong "Chi Nen Xing" -shoot tenderness-keeping ability. That is why Taiping Hou Kui can be so delicate even made of big twigs of one bud embraced by two leaves.

We finally arrived. So great, here has a superb view of Taiping Lake.

The three big characters inscribed on the stone tablet are just Feng Huang Jian. The tablet indicates here (Fenghuang Jian) is the original place of Taiping Hou Kui.

The tomb of Wang Kuicheng

Sunday, May 20, 2012

When Keemun Tea Comes To the Market Each Year.

Keemun tea was also begun being harvested during early Spring (commonly the end of March) each year and going through the first production stage called"Cuzhi"(preliminary processing). Each batch of "maocha"(tea just after the preliminary processing) will be graded and some good of them (commonly harvested earlier) can directly come to the market after selecting. The "maocha" directly comes to the market is just called Keemun Mao Feng.

The preliminary processing will be over at the end of May or early June. The Maocha of lower grades will be further processed. The further production stage is called "Jingzhi"(refinement processing). It is said during the old times, the refinement includes more than 40 procedures, now it also has 12. The aim is to make the appearance of the tea smaller, tighter and slenderer, removing the foreign substances and drying away water. The tea after refinement is called Keemun Congou which has 10 grades (Hao Ya A, Hao Ya B, Special and 1-7 Grades). The Keemun Congou of higher grades will be finished earlier than the ones of lower grades. The Keemun Congou of 7th Grades will be available until September.

In addition, the leaves for making Keemun Mao Feng will be finished harvesting until the Mid- May while the entire harvesting will be finished until the end of June. The leaves harvested between the Mid-May and the end of June will only be made for producing Keemun Congou because the leaves harvested during the period is much bigger. No harvesting will be made in Autumn and Winter for Keemun tea.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Why the authentic Lapsang Souchong is pleasantly smoky

A lot of friends ever told me that they don't like Lapsang Souchong and even hate it because of its overwhelming smoky taste and some of them even wonder why Lapsang Souchong won popularity in 1600s and 1700s in Europe and was treated as a luxury drink in England, France, Dutch and The Netherlands. During recent years, we visited Tongmu, Wuyi Mountain for several times. We talked and worked with the local producers, and established firm relations with them. When we gained an insight into it, we don't wonder any more why Lapsang Souchong won the love of people and we also got to know why the fake Lapsang Souchong is hated by the people.

Here, we listed the two conditions which we think the authentic smoky Lapsang Souchong should meet:

1. Growing and made in Tongmu, Wuyi Mountain, a national nature reserve seen by Chinese tea experts as the core Lapsang Souchong tea producing area. The area is only about 50 square kilometers.

2. Made by the manufacturers who stick to the traditional methods. The smoky Lapsang Souchong tea should be made through the crucial drying process using smoldering pine fire.

For condition 1, we will make an article to describe the growing environment of the Tongmu in detail with many photos to let people know why the fresh tealeaves harvested in Tongmu are special. Tongmu is the birthplace of Lapsang Souchong, the first black tea in the world. As a very important place during the tea history, it has very beautiful scenery and is now a national nature reserve that isn't open to the tourists. Thanks to the help of the local people, we can go to there each time.

Here, we elaborate the difference in production between the authentic smoky Lapsang Souchong and the fake smoky ones in the market.

In fact, as now Chinese especially young people who don't like the black tea with even a little smoky taste (partly because they are reluctant or have no opportunity to approach the authentic smoky Lapsang Souchong), now the annual output of the authentic smoky Lapsang Souchong was declining year by year. More and more producers shift to making unsmoked Souchong black tea using the common modern production method. The unsmoked members of Lapsang Souchong family include Jin Junmei, Yin Junmei and Chigan (while there are also smoky Chigan made in the traditional ways). Some producers even totally abandoned the production of the smoky types.

While there are still the producers who made the both types; traditional (smoky) and new type (unsmoked) like the one we are now collaborating with. The traditional smoky Lapsang Souchong was still made in the old facilities which they call Qing Lou (the black house we see in the photo) and all the unsmoked Lapsang Souchong was made in the facilities newly established several years ago. The new facilities were almost the same as those we can find elsewhere for making other kinds of black teas. 

The traditional Qing Lou (black house) for making the smoky Lapsang Souchong is really special. When we visited them in the early March, 2012, we asked them to show us around and they gladly agreed. There are four floors. When the production of the Lapsang Souchong begins, the pine woods are fired at the bottom. The house is designed so well that the heat and smoke can rise through the first to the fourth floor. When the fresh tealeaves harvested, they are at first placed at the fourth(highest) floor for withering, then moved to three floor for oxidation and then after the processes such as pan frying and rolling, it is finally placed to the first floor for first drying stage to reduce the moisture content to 20%. Later, they are moved to the second floor for the second drying to reduce the moisture under 5%.

Due to the smoldering pine fire generates smoke containing vaporized amber essence, which absorbed by tea leaves, gives Lapsang Souchong typical pine smoke flavor. The drying process takes 8-10 hours in order to ensure complete drying and develop the distinctive flavor of smoky Lapsang Souchong. The authentic smoky Lapsang Souchong has dried Longan aroma and pleasant while not overwhelming smoky flavor.

In fact, we noticed that most of the people (about 90%) would like the authentic smoky Lapsang Souchong while 98% people would dislike the commonly found smoky Lapsang Souchong in the market. There are two main reasons; one is that the two kinds were made of the totally different Chaqing (fresh tealeaves). The other is that they were made in the totally different ways. Unlike the complicated processes the authentic smoky one was made through, the commonly found smoky Lapsang Souchong is usually made by directly smoking the finished black tea. The finished black tea was usually of inferior quality and difficult to be sold out so people had no way but to smoke them, wishing to cover up the unpleasant taste with the smoky flavor so this kind of smoky Lapsang Souchong is usually overwhelming smoky and very cheap.

The interior of the Qing Lou:

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Latest News About 2012 Crop Tea

The 2012 crop of Longjing, Biluochun, Huangshan Mao Feng and Huoshan Huangya are all available, mostly are now Mingqian teas:

Mingqian first flush Huangshan Maofeng(harvested in 28th March) 

Mingqian Huangshan Maofeng(harvested in 3th April) 

Mingqian LJ230 Longjing(harvested in 3th April)    

Mingqian first flush Biluochun(harvested in 20th March)    

Mingqian Biluochun(harvested in 30th March)

Mingqian Biluochun(harvested in 2th April)             

Mingqian first flush Huoshan Huangya(harvested in 28th Match)  

Mingqian Huoshan Huangya(harvested in 2th April) 

The Biluochun are all authentic, produced in Dongshan, Dongting, Suzhou.

The Mingqian first flush Huangshan Maofeng and Huoshan Huangya will soon be sold out and the first flush Biluochun has been less than 1KG.

The first flush lu An Gua Pian will be available in about 2 days while Taiping Houkui about 10 days.

Huangshan Yun Wu will come to the market until May.

18th April Update:

Now, there are the following teas of 2012 crops have been just available in stock:

Keemun aromatic snail

Keemun gift hong mao feng

Qimen golden needle

Imperial Yunnan Black tea

Supreme Yunnan Gold Bud

Supreme Yunnan Golden Needle

Supreme Yunnan Golden Snail 

Special Huangshan Maofeng(harvested in 4th April)

Huangshan Maofeng 1st (harvested in 10th April) 

Pre Rain Huangshan Maofeng(harvested in 13th April)

Ding Gu Da Fang Green Tea

Premium Tunlu Green Tea

20th April Update:

Huangshan Yun Wu Green Tea is now just available in stock.

Huangshan Yun Wu is one of our most popular and economical teas sold in large quantity each year. It is at the same price as last year USD35/KG. Discounts can be allowed to orders above 10KG. Pls contact us at

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tea Drinking in the Tang Dynasty

The painting of a Tea Banquet at the Qingming Festival (the Tang Dynasty 618-907)

In the Tang Dynasty, the imperial court often held tea banquet at the Qingming Festival (Pure Brightness/Tomb-Sweeping). Every year in early April, emperors received tribute teas from various places. First, some would be offered as a sacrifice to their ancestors. Then, some would be given to their favorite officials and servants as rewards. And held Royal Qingming Tea Banquets to entertain high rank officials.

According to Chinese historical records, tea began to gain fame in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The Tang Dynasty is regarded as the golden era for tea.

Before the Tang Dynasty (618-907), people in south China loved drinking tea while people in the north hated tea and regarded tea drinking as a strange custom or even a shameful practice. By the Tang Dynasty, tribute tea promoted the rise of tea. The famous tribute teas included the Zisun Tea produced in Guzhu of Changxing, Zhejiang Province and the Yangxian Tea produced in Yixing, Jiangsu Province. The imperial government moved the tea manufacturing center from Sichuan to the area south of the Yangtze River, which promoted the tea-making techniques in the new center and brought along the tea production and development in the whole country. Since then, tea drinking has become popular in the whole country.

In the Tang Dynasty (618-907), tea was divided into raw tea, loose tea, dust tea, and caky tea. Of them, caky tea was the main type. Tang people made tea by by cooking it. First, they dried the caky tea by baking. Then, they bagged the tea to keep its aroma. Later, after the tea had cooled, they ground it into fine powder for cooking, during which, they added salt or other spices.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Zhengyan, Zhengshan and Bohea

Bohea is the name used by people in the West for tea produced in the Wuyi Mountain during the ancient time. Wuyi Mountain is amazing. It produces two kinds of famous teas: Wuyi Rock Tea (Wuyi Yancha) and Lapsang Souchong. Questions about them are often raised. Are they produced in the same area in Wuyi Mountains? Are they made from the same raw material? Are they different just because of the production methods?

When tea professionals talk about Wuyi Yancha and Lapsang Souchong, they often ask whether they are produced in the core producing areas. Teas from the core producing areas are called Zhengshan or Neishan teas in Chinese, otherwise called Waishan (not from core areas) teas. For Yancha, they say Zhengyan instead of Zhengshan while Zhengyan has the same meaning as Zhengshan. Yan means rock in Chinese. The word Zhengyan makes it more prominent as for the character of Yancha than Zhengshan.

The Zhengyan Yancha and the Zhengshan Lapsang Souchong both grow in Wuyi Mountain but they are not from the same place. Quite a lot of people arent clear about their relations even for Chinese. Here I give you the following drawing and explanations. 

The Zhengyan of Wuyi Yancha often called Mingyan is the scenic spots of the Wuyishan City covering an area of about 70 square kilometers with the east to Chongyang Stream, south to Nanxing Road, west to Gaoxing Road and north to Huangbai Stream. The most famous areas of Zhengyan are the "Three Pits and Two Gullies, namely Huiyuan Pit, Niulan Pit, Daoshui Pit, Liuxiang Gully and Wuyuan Gully, which are symbolic places of Zhengyan areas.

The Zhengshan of Lapsang Souchong with the Tong Mu Guan at the center, is a part of the national nature reserve covering an area of about 50 square kilometers with the east to Mashu, south to Pikeng, west to Guadun and north to Tongmuguan. The most famous places of the Zhengshan is Mashu, Guadun, Miaowan.

Zhengyan and Zhengshan are both located in Wuyi Mountains with a distance about 50 kilometers between them. It takes 1.5 to 2 hours from the Zhengyan area to the Tong Mu Guan by car.

As the areas of Zhengyan and Zhengshan are both quite limited, the prices of Zhengyan Yancha and the authentic Lapsang Souchong become very high. The teas produced in the areas between Zhengyan and Zhengshan can only be called Danyan Yancha or Waishan Souchong black tea.

The environment of Zhengyan and Zhengshan is different. The scenic spot (Zhengyan area of Yancha) has characteristics of Danxia landform at an altitude of about 350 meters. These places feature steep cliffs, bare rocks, low temperature difference between summer and winter. The soil of Zhengyan is highly permeable, rich in potassium and manganese, and proper in PH value. However, Zhengshan (of Lapsang Souchong for example Tongmuguan) doesn't has the characteristics of Danxia Landform, with high mountains covered by primitive forests, Tongmuguan has great amount of rainfall, lower temperature of 18C on average each year, high humidity and up to 100 foggy days each year. At an altitude of 1200 to 1500 meters, there is a huge temperature difference between day and night. The soil in Tongmuguan is soft, rich in minerals and abundant in water with high level of organic substances. 

The photos of the Wuyi Zhengyan:

The photos of the Miaowan, Tong Mu Guan: