Spring Tea 2013 Sourcing Trip

This spring is an incredibly exciting time here at Verdant Tea and for our tea friends across China. We consider ourselves especially lucky to be traveling to China right in the middle of some of the best tea harvests of the year. Farmers like Mr. and Mrs. He of Laoshan or Mrs. Li of Dragonwell Village are at their busiest, so we’re privileged to have them welcoming us back as friends and partners.

Many tea companies do a yearly trip to China, but too often these trips will be whirlwind tours from wholesale market to market, or visits to tea farms for staged tea picking performance photo ops, complete with “traditional costume.” We are visiting because we miss our tea friends, and we want to experience the excitement of the new harvest, not only for ourselves, but also share it with you through video, interviews and photo journals. We will be in China to strengthen bonds of trust, support innovation, continue our own learning, and help our friends thrive and achieve their dreams.
Learn about all of the ways you can you can follow our trip…

Spring Tea Sourcing

Many of the best teas of the year are picked in April and early May. We want to be there to try each harvest fresh and source the absolute best for our spring collection. By getting our tea just as it is picked, we will be able to air ship it back immediately and bring it to market fresher than tea companies using traditional ocean freight and brokers. All of the first pickings of the year have been the best in a decade according to our friends in Anxi, Wuyi, Laoshan, and Dragonwell, so this should be an incredible spring with plentiful, sweet and rich tea. We are excited beyond belief to be a part of these remarkable harvests. Fresh spring tea, experienced with joy and attentiveness, can change the way you think about tea forever. It sure has for us, and we hope it will for you, too, as it arrives from China in the coming weeks.
See our spring collection as it arrives…

Teahouse Research

Each trip to China is more than just business and sourcing. These trips are also about cultural and aesthetic fulfillment. Drinking tea that has been thoughtfully prepared, listening to folk stories, comparing each new teas and learning in the process- this is true joy. We have decided that the time has come to take our the way we share tea culture to the next level by opening a tea tasting bar and community space here in Minneapolis, Minnesota. On this trip to China, we will be seeking the expertise of teahouse proprietors and farmers across the country as we consider the best way to “translate” the tea tasting experience into a culturally relevant form back home. We will be collecting photos and ideas, buying tea wares for our new space, and crystallizing our thoughts to hopefully open our new space in June of this year.
See our teahouse picture board…

The Laoshan Oolong Project

Last October, we visited Laoshan Village and spent an afternoon walking along the ocean shore with Mr and Mrs He. We talked all about their recent innovations with Laoshan Black tea and Laoshan White, and marvelled at how successful and well received their teas have been across the world through Verdant Tea. We encouraged the He family to keep experimenting and offered to buy outright the results of any experimental trials, no matter the outcome, as a way to give them the security to keep growing and innovating. The idea of Laoshan Oolong came up, and we were floored. This spring, we will be picking tea with the He family and processing it into a brand new kind of oolong. No tea from Northern China has ever been made into an oolong, so this hand picked and hand processed batch will be the very first. We will be documenting the entire process, doing interviews and keeping the world updated on these pioneering new developments. If the result is as good as we think it will be, the tea will be for sale on our site in the coming weeks.

Teawares

We get inquiries every day, asking for our advice in buying tea wares. Because of our commitment to quality, to hand-made work by artisans, and to functionality, it has been nearly impossible to offer good recommendations that present a high value in beauty, function and price. We will be remedying this problem by meeting tea ware artisans in Xiamen, Wuyi and Qingdao, and commissioning hand-painted Jingdezhen porcelain. We will be shipping back tea wares that are not only functional, but also beautiful enough to help make every sip of tea taste better. We will post pictures of teawares for preorder as we find them.
See teawares as they arrive…

Collaborative Teahouse Projects

Our good friends Wang Huimin and Ren Weiwei represent Verdant Tea in China when we cannot be there ourselves. Being a part of our projects, tasting the best tea in the world, both Wang Huimin and Weiwei have been inspired to share the same teas we import, but closer to home. Weiwei is getting closer to the approvals she needs for her Jimo-based Center for Tea Culture and Literacy- a combined reading room, community center and teahouse. Wang Huimin’s dream is to open a tea bar tea lovers to meet and sip tea together while hearing legends and folk stories. One of our top priorities for this trip is to speed up the realization of their dreams through logistic help, business plan counciling and, of course, funding.

Our Adventure Roadmap

From blizzardy Minnesota, we take the long journey to tropical Xiamen, a gorgeous ocean city across from Taiwan that has become one of the great centers of Southern Chinese culture in both food and tea.

Xiamen

We will be meeting up with Wang Huimin in Xiamen, the place she calls home and the center of several interesting projects. First, we will help her get moving on her combined bed-and-breakfast / teahouse by taking photos and building her website. Second, we will be tasting tea in as many teahouses as possible to do research for our own future tea bar, and sharing the photos as often as possible.

We have engagements at all the street food stalls and Dim Sum vendors in town for photos and video for a few collaborative articles we are writing with food bloggers on Chinese street food culture.

After interviews with Wang Huimin about her childhood in Anxi and tea growing, we will be meeting with our awesome air freighters in Xiamen to toast their miraculous feats: consistently air-shipping our tea from Xiamen to our headquarters, quickly and affordably. Over the last year, we have been able to lower our prices on teas across the board without paying the farmers any less, all thanks to our shippers’ creative solutions.

Finally, we will be meeting with tea ware artisans in Xiamen and scouting out unique, hand-made pieces to share with the world.

Anxi

From our base in Xiamen, we’ll be making the short bus ride to Anxi, the heart of Tieguanyin culture and production. In Anxi, we will be meeting our partners in Tieguanyin, Anxi Fo Shou Black, and more. We’ll get to taste the spring harvests as they are picked, film the process and post interviews. It will be wonderful to finally connect tea drinkers worldwide more directly with the growers in Anxi.

Wuyi

We fly to Wuyi to hike the rocky mountains and sit down with the farmers producing our Shui Jin Gui, Shui Xian and Big Red Robe. Along the way, we’ll collect interviews, photos and document the harvest. We hope to scout out some new teas in Wuyi and share the process on our site.

Hangzhou

Next, we fly to Hangzhou and take a bus to Dragonwell Village, hiking another hour and a half to Li Xiaoping’s family home to be a part of the Dragonwell spring picking. She will be busy beyond belief, but has insisted that we visit her and get photos and videos to share. She jokingly let us know that if we wanted to keep sharing her Dragonwell, we would have to come to her home and share a family meal. We look forward to collaborating with Mrs. Li and her family, and to revisiting the tea culture museum and institute for more inspiration on our future tea bar.

Qingdao

From Hangzhou, we fly up to Qingdao to meet Wang Yanxin and try all the latest pu’er from her spring Yunnan visit, and talk to her husband about commissioning his friend to paint a batch of Jingdezhen hand made porcelain for us. Wang Yanxin has already booked out her friend’s seafood restaurant for another incredible seafood feast: her friend takes out his own fishing boat every other day and cooks up everything he catches to whoever books the one table at his restaurant. Some of the best seafood in the world for sure! Speaking of food, we will be going around town, documenting more of the street food culture of Northern China.

We have some civilized tea drinking to do with Master Bi, as he shares the deep lore surrounding Big Red Robe and incense culture. We also have an appointment with Wang Shilin, who wants to show off Xingyang Workshop’s latest and greatest.

Jimo & Laoshan

From Qingdao, we drive out to rural Jimo to meet with Weiwei and help her keep pushing forward with her Center for Tea Culture and Literacy. We’ll also do our best to convince her to come visit our new tea bar in America when we open this summer for workshops and tea demos. We will travel with Weiwei to Laoshan where we will spend the rest of our trip picking tea with the He family, doing interviews, and documenting the brand new Laoshan Oolong project.

We fly back to America on May 4th, returning to share more videos and share all of our spring finds as soon as possible. Pictures, videos, teas, and teawares will continue arriving both during and after the trip.

Very excited to be embarking on this tea adventure, and to be sharing it so fully with everyone here! You makes it possible for us to support innovation with our friends, and to keep seeking out the best in tea.

Sincerely,
David

Published on by David Duckler

This Spring, we're traveling to China for the freshest Spring teas. We are excited beyond belief to be a part of these remarkable harvests...

click images to view larger
Mr. He of Laoshan VillageMr. He of Laoshan Village
Mrs. He of Laoshan VillageMrs. He of Laoshan Village
Laoshan Bilochun Green TeaLaoshan Bilochun Green Tea
Laoshan Green TeaLaoshan Green Tea
Laoshan Black TeaLaoshan Black Tea
Song Style Jun Glaze Tea CupsSong Style Jun Glaze Tea Cups
Jingdezhen Tea CupJingdezhen Tea Cup
Teahouse InteriorTeahouse Interior
Wang HuiminWang Huimin
Wang Huimin, WeiWei and Lily at a TeahouseWang Huimin, WeiWei and Lily at a Teahouse
Bi Family Top Grade Gande TieguanyinBi Family Top Grade Gande Tieguanyin
Wuyi OolongWuyi Oolong
Mrs. Li's Dragonwell GreenMrs. Li's Dragonwell Green
Wang YanxinWang Yanxin
Laoshan White TeaLaoshan White Tea
Ren WeiWeiRen WeiWei
Tea Field in Laoshan VillageTea Field in Laoshan Village

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Posted Comments

  1. Sarah

    This is really exciting! Thanks for taking the time and effort to share your tea harvest experience with us. It’ll be my first time tasting fresh spring teas.

  2. yssah

    oooooh. nice perspective. and Laoshan oolong sounds really cool!

  3. Michelle

    Really looking forward to a Laoshan oolong!

  4. Thea

    I love that you are so committed to the integrity of tea and the farmers and the authenticity of bringing it here! I can not wait to see your new space in June!

  5. Meghan

    I love that your company does this! It is so exciting to follow your travels. I recently found out I will be moving to China – I hope to make it to the northern part of the country at some point while I am there! Maybe I will even get to visit the Jimo Center for Tea Culture and Literacy !!!!!!

  6. Terri HarpLady Langerak

    I loved reading the updates during your last trip to China, so I’m very excited & looking forward to following this trip too! It’s so cool that you support these independent growers, allowing us to get to know them a little, & bringing us the best that they have to offer. I’m also secretly hoping to maybe splurge on a teaware item this time…maybe!

  7. Sarah

    so excited to see more on this! Can’t wait to see what you bring back :)

  8. Ryan Conaughty

    This is so well written and fascinating.

  9. Joshua Smith

    I can’t wait until more details about the Laoshan Oolong are released. I am almost giddy with excitement, since the high-quality leaves from the region have been extremely versatile so far, but there are just so many different ways to make and Oolong…the possibilities are almost endless.

  10. bruce

    Cant wait for more updates on the trip and I I hope you bring back some unique gaiwans this year! =)

  11. Nick

    So exciting! I would love to hear what Master Bi has to say about incense culture if you have time for a write up.

  12. frolic

    When will we see the first of the new teas?

  13. High

    Thank you for documenting all of this! Your writing and photographs add another lovely dimension to your already wonderful tea.

  14. Sarah

    Loving what I’ve tried so far!

  15. Scott

    Great to hear about your adventures, best of luck in your 2014 sourcing, I’m excited to hear how it goes!