Posted on Leave a comment

What makes a tea better?

Community Supported Tea

First thing first, from today, the Community Supported Tea (CST) program is ONLINE, check the teas available to support the farmers.

Trigger to launch CST

The Teababy team has been in tea industry for very long time, we exchange tea making experience with different producers in different areas, however we mostly focus on ourself ex. improving skills, learning the nature’s mystery and do some tea education.

The COVID-19 special situation hit a break to our routine, thus have the chance to think in a bigger picture. Every industry needs healthy eco system, every participant should be able to get & give from this system under fair’s sake and most tea farmers in China still sit in the weak position, they lose the negotiation power because of the cut of connection with market.

The truth everybody can see very clearly is suffered farmers do not have competitive quality and that’s the base or first step to earn the power. There are many elements can effect the final quality like the weather, the terroir, the skill and a bit of luck etc, personally I even believed “terroir” is the most important element as it’s irreplaceable.

Somwhat I was wrong, let me tell you a real story. A special farmer works very hard till late night thus results a better quality, he does get a higher price (a bit but not much), but because of the extra time spent, he in the end made less quantity, so according to the simple formula: Price * Quantity = Income, he didn’t earn much more than average but his wife complaint a lot including late sleeping and couldn’t help with housework etc, so after many years fighting, this farmer gave up in the end.

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hark.

NBA Super Star Kevin Durant

Dream drives willing to work hard

And dream needs to be carefully protected, in a children’s world, the worst dream killer is teasing while in adult world the monster I think is no give back. It’s difficult to have a saint frankly speaking, after all we do have family to support. They need more than “fair” price.

Speaking of FAIR, I am disgusting of Fair Trade. When a farmer needs help and you said “Ok, give me the certificate fee in advance.” That’s ridiculous. Fair Trade is just a special service for big company in order to fool the public.

The plan to back the farmers is we pay extra 50% for the first year and work with them to improve the quality, then pay 2 times than market price for second year and then 3 times for third year, hopefully to pay more and more times because of the high quality and high rated reputation.

  1. First year pay 1.5 times
  2. Second year pay 2 times
  3. Third year pay 3 times

And every tea drinker is the farmer’s Dream Protector. So what makes a tea better? It’s the will, it’s you.

Posted on Leave a comment

The journey to the colorful white tea

Do you love white tea? Yes, then you can jump to the product, if your answer is NO then you might want to continue the reading. First of all, let me tell you a real story that happened to me. In 2011, summer night I visited a white tea factory who mostly do tea export business, they offered me a White Peony that produced three years ago, I can not remember the cupping details as in the end I got my first tea drunk, but I can remember how different of each steeping and how sweet of the moon that night. From that on I realized white tea can be more, it can beyond plain water, the reason I didn’t like white tea is because I didn’t have the chance to meet a special one.

After several years of white tea learning and the complains received on white tea, I decided to make use of my Oolong tea processing skill and develop something new in the white tea world. That’s the origin of this Colorful Peony white tea made today, anyway I will stop talking and walk you through how we make it happen.


Posted on Leave a comment

ERROR – Why no email received after order placed?

What happened?

Recently some people who placed an order on helloteababy.com may not receive confirmation email or shipping notice, this is our IT fault. We noticed this problem yesterday on August 28 and make it resolved on August 29. We are truly sorry about the delayed shipment, to make it a bit right, two Not-For-Sale high end teas were packed along with the order, and personally I am contacting each one to express my sorry and listen to whatever you gotta to say.

Where this problem come from?

To prevent this problem, here I retrieve how it happened. We built this Website online shop all by ourselves, one, to save cost, as we are just tea producer and small player, every penny costs; Secondly to own the control and flexibility, we can decide what function we want, what style to present the teas and do our best to improve the website speed.

Still we need combine some 3rd party service to make the website fully functional, one service we used is Gmail, Gmail can help to notified involved parties, for example if you place an order on helloteababy.com, Gmail will on behalf of us to send you a confirmation email, we will get an email about this new order too. After teas sent, Gmail will send you an email about the shipping status including tracking number.

And many people who using gmail including us encounter a problem, gmail stops working and shows the error below in WordPress dashboard:

EMAIL DELIVERY ERROR: the plugin WP Mail SMTP v1.4.1 logged this error during the last time it tried to send an email:

Mailer: Gmail
{
  "error": "invalid_grant",
  "error_description": "Bad Request"
}

The solution is here on WordPress forum, after applied the solution, don’t forget to shoot a test email on settings of WP Mail SMTP, or the problem will not go away.

Finally …

Problem resolved, Gmail is working again, I will try to write some code to watch the status. Here I want to thank for all your support and help, tea circle is the best.

By the way, if anyone has questions on online tea shop building, I would be pleasured to offer my experience.

Posted on Leave a comment

Mei Zhan, the Plum Blossom

Each of the many tea varietals grown across Fujian Province has its history. Steeped in folklore and rooted in the red-brown soil are tea plants that have been cultivated for generations, and bearing witness to great change in the world around. Think of Tie Guanyin, the “Iron Goddess” and Huangjin Gui, “Golden Osmanthus.” Consider Mei Zhan, a varietal that originated in Lutian Township of Anxi County. Its name can be traced to a line from a poem: “The Plum Blossom is the Queen of All Flowers 梅占百花魁” There are several legends about the origin of this tea, for example:

A folktale recalls that during the late Ming (1368 – 1644) or early Qing (1644 – 1911) era, a hard-working and pious farming couple from Lutian reached their early forties, but remained childless. One evening, as the couple hosted a Buddhist monk seeking alms, the visitor remarked that they seemed successful in life, prosperous, and with a well-appointed home and productive fields. Why, he asked, did they carry sadness in them? They explained their situation, in hope of his sage counsel, but he offered none. He left them that night, and continued on his way. Shortly thereafter, as the couple slept, they each had a vision of Buddha, instructing them to find the two tea trees clinging to Tiger Ridge outside their village, and to make tea from their leaves. In the morning, the couple were astonished that they had experienced the very same dream. Right away, they went to the location revealed to them the previous night, climbing high in the mountain, and found the two trees that had been revealed. They harvested the leaves, made tea, and immediately felt a change inside of themselves; spirits lifted, troubles vanished. The next year, they welcomed a healthy son. One month later, they celebrated the child’s birth in a banquet for the entire village, where the tea was named Mei Zhan. The couple gave the tea to plant all around the village, and shared the story of its marvelous power.  

Mei Zhan is often prepared as an oolong tea, but is remarkably adaptable, and can be made into excellent white, green, and black teas as well.

There are more stories to tell. I will steep another cup.

Posted on Leave a comment

Tea “mother trees” of Anxi County

Nestled in the hills of Anxi County in Fujian Province are villages where tea cultivation goes back centuries and where local histories are entwined with the plants rooted there. Legends of long-ago farmers and mystical encounters take botanical form in the stories people tell about their local tea varietals.

Contemporary tea enthusiasts have taken note of the large number of cultivated varieties of tea plant (varietals) that originated in Anxi. Evocative names such as Tie Guanyin, “Iron Goddess,” Huangjin Gui, “Golden Osmanthus,” and Benshan, “Original Mountain,” refer to distinctive plant lineages, with their own growth characteristics and processing qualities, that are harvested principally to produce the well-known oolong teas of the area. Tie Guanyin is recognized for its particular aroma, while Huangjin Gui has an especially distinctive flavor. In practice, tea leaves from different varietals could be blended to produce tea for the commercial market. Like grape vines and apples, these plants are not reproduced by seed, but rather by cuttings, so that each new bush preserves the attributes of the previous generations. Local communities in Anxi County have recognized this history by designating the tea “mother trees” of widely-grown varietals, in principle, bushes that represent the origins of various tea cultivation traditions.

The story of Anxi oolong tea

In Xiping town, local people talk about a distant forbear who discovered the method of making oolong tea. A farmer nicknamed Wu Long was out on a hillside picking tea leaves and caught sight of a deer. Engaging in a hunt, the man chased his prey for a considerable time, only returning home very late in the day. Rather than pan-fired after harvest, the freshly-picked leaves had been shaken in his woven basket all day, and then left overnight. In the morning, Wu Long noticed that they had developed a captivating aroma. After pan-firing and drying the leaves, his fellow villagers credited him with this new type of tea craft. Even today, some people in Xiping believe this history of tea innovation makes people there more adept at producing excellent tea.

Statue of Wu Long, a Xiping farmer.

Tie Guanyin

Xiping town also claims to be the place of origination of the Tie Guanyin varietal. According to one story, a bush grew near the study of a scholar-official named Wang Shirang. It produced a phenomenal tea, one so distinctive that the emperor himself became enamored with it, and offered the name Tie Guanyin: Tie or “iron,” for its dense leaves, and Guanyin, after the Buddhist deity known in China for beauty and compassion. In recent years, a structure has been erected to commemorate this consequential discovery, protecting within the Tie Guanyin “mother tree.” There is also another legend about Tie Guanyin’s origin, that recalls a pious farmer named Wei Yin, who was called in a dream by the spirit of Guanyin to search a particular mountainside for a tea plant producing leaves with an especially transcendent aroma. He searched for this miraculous bush and transplanted it to an iron pot just outside of his house, and indeed, its leaves yielded an exceptional brew. He named the tea for the iron pot in which he kept it, and for the deity that had spoken to him.

Posted on Leave a comment

Spring tea report 2020

Tea leaf dewdrop

There was a raining last midnight which kept me exciting very much that can barely get me into sleep, water in the spring is always precious, we suffered this drought last year and which delayed the harvest time more than one week.

Right now is the picking time for buds only green tea and black tea, also little Puer is available too.

Speaking of Oolong, there is an exception, low mountain Eight Immortals started the picking from the end of February while high mountain one shall begin at about March 15. Then is the Gold Oolong in the end of March.

The COVID-19 has big affection on tea production, not easy to hire workers, cost increased 50-80%, no buyers visit factory, most of the sales need to be online.

The situation for Oolong tea might be better as mot of Oolongs’ picking time is in May.

According to the keep updating data of yesterday (March 5), except Hubei province, only 5 provinces found new patients, the other 26 provinces have ZERO new patients. Thanks for all people’s sacrifice especially the medical workers and look forward to have a complete victory soon.

Posted on Leave a comment

YouTube is Killing Me

First of all, here is the video just uploaded to YouTube and I will explain why YouTube is killing me.

Tea in the Local food market

What torture me mostly is keeping the status of being :: I will get it done soon :: for whole year.

A YouTube video was my promise for 2019, I bought a tripod, a hand held stabilizer Zhi Yun Smooth 3 and iPhone 7 Plus, also got iMovie installed, but nothing happened.

I was upset, even got angry.

As I am not native English speaker, writing or talking is the last thing I will do.

But all the tea stories inside me needs a way out, video is the most possible solution, just recording …

It can tell how a stems picker help win a tea competition.

It can tell how farmers react to local government’s stupid order.

It can tell how anxious people are when it keep raining in the tea harvesting time.

It can tell how exciting we are when the Wild Wulong black tea got success after so many failed experiments.

It can tell how interesting talk we several tea producers cupping new teas together.


It’s January 20, 2020, five days later will be the Chinese New Year and one year will be over again, so I picked up the gears and asked a friend if he can accepted an interview, luckily everyone was so nice even strangers.

Also I found some nice place like picture below, it’s Ba Shi, the 8th Food Market in Xiamen, so many nice local foods available especially sea food, everyone was so busy still I found some nice tea moments there.


The lesson I learned from this video shooting:

Prepare a mini microphone and the voice will be much more clear
Do it right and fast is better than do it perfectly
Do homework for the gonna ask questions

Posted on Leave a comment

How bad coronavirus cause to China tea industry?

FIRST QUESTION
Is it safe to drink Chinese tea now? Short answer is YES. Let’s dig deeper.

According to the Chinese Medical experts of National Health Commission and the Minnesota Department of Health, the Coronavirus can only survive on inanimate objects for a few hours, maybe a day or two in perfect laboratory condition.

The cargo shipped from China to LA/USA for example, the shortest time is 15 days on the sea plus loading unloading and Customs clearance, 20 days in total; To MIAMI it’s about 45 days. That’s shipped by sea, by air like DHL or FedEx it takes 4-6 days. There is no time for the virus to survive. It’s no way to get Coronavirus from a package being delivered from China.

ANOTHER QUESTION
Will it lower down the tea quality or get price higher? My assumption is very unlikely.

Let’s clear some important puzzles now.

  • The timing of tea production: Qing Ming and Gu Yu, please remember this two most important time for tea plucking. Buds only or one bud one leaf picking mostly comes from 10 days before Qing Ming, that’s March 24th. Personally I prefer to tea picked from Pre-Guyu, also bigger production.
  • The exporting process: It takes time, from tea production, shipping, Customs clearance, final delivery, normally the tea you bought is about two months later after production. Here although we can ship to you directly and cut the process a lot, still it needs one week to prepare the new tea be packed and then ship to you.

According to the guidance from the government, people will eventually back to work after February 8th, including logistics company, so in March tea factories will be able to hire workers in time.

QUALITY

Because of this Coronavirus, this Spring Festival is very quiet and almost no firewoks or firecrackers, all companies’ opening also delayed for about half a month, according to the report by Carbon Brief, the emissions of CO2 reduced by one-fourth, I am sure the air is much better than before.

Also the weather is good till now. There was some raining between February 1-5, that’s quite good for the tea. Last year the Spring tea was delayed because of the lack of water.

So the quality of 2020 Spring tea is very likely to be better. Although this Spring Festival we stay longer time in home than before and consume more tea, the price is very possibly to be stable or a little bit higher (see the updates).

ABOUT CORONAVIRUS
When will the Coronavirus be over?

The most important time of containing this Coronavirus is this week and next week, more specialized hospitals are built in short time, I will be likely to see the game over within this month, that’s the end of February.

Sadly so many lives lost, so many people suffered, but we will be strong together and it does give us a break to re think of our life and our relationship with the nature, just like our philosophy stated, do respect the nature and follow the nature.


UPDATES:

  • 2-11-2020, WHO officially names this virus as COVID-19.
  • 2-22-2020, Virus is kindly contained but because of the cautious treatments and policy, a lot of factories and companies can not back to office now especially the logistics company, the cost is a 40-60% increasement for sure. And the buds only tea’s picking will be a big challenge as no workers available.
Posted on Leave a comment

A brief history of ripe Puer tea

“Holy shit, it’s on the ground.” After so many years, still can remember the feeling that saw how to make the Ripe Puer in the factory, it’s a huge factory and hundred tons of teas just sat on the cement floor. What will you think when you get this picture?

Actually it’s the right way to do it as long as it’s clean. For making ripe Puer, the floor must be draughty bare and have good water absorbency, the best material is black brick, you can see this from walls or palace built thousand years ago. The second best also affordable option is cement.

The first moment I was there, there was a question in my head, “couldn’t they use something to let the teas do not touch the ground? for example a piece of wood?” Later I learned the quantity of the tea they used for making ripe Puer one time is about 5 – 20 tons, normally 10 tons, that’s 10,000 kilo grams, besides the teas are not just sit there, they need to be flipped over 4-5 times, like a elephant dances and it’s difficult to let it dance on that piece of wood.

1974, the first ever cup of ripe Puer arrived

You may heard a lot that Ripe Puer was invented by Ms. Wu Qi Ying in Kunming Tea Factory. That’s documented officially, in 1973 Kunming Tea Factory together with Xiguan Tea Factory and Menghai Tea Factory, 7 tea masters took a visit of Guangdong Tea Company to learn Puer tea post-fermentation, then back to their factory and kept researching.

In that era of China, the electronic communication was very poor, these 7 tea researchers barely no communication after back home, so each developed very unique different style product.

  • Menghai Tea Factory has the highest fermentation.
  • Xiaguan Tea Factory gets a little sour product which Japanese loves it very much.
  • Kunming Tea Factory has no shining character but balanced.

There is a reason they developed so different style, besides these 7 tea masters had no communication, it is about their different location.

Speaking of humidity, Menghai > Kunming > Xiaguan, and humidity is so important to post-fermentation beside temperature.

Xiaguan is too dry and always windy, so when open the factory gate, the big wind will come in, the tea will be difficult to remove the moisture, like our body after heavy exercise which need to sweat, but can’t if we got blow right away. You may smell that sour if somebody don’t have a shower after that.

1975, ripe Puer officially show up on the market

SKU 7572 might be the most famous Puer product, it’s about 1.05 USD/KG at that time but now as high as 10,000USD/KG, it’s more crazy than bitcoin, today if you ask which stock has the biggest potential, somebody might answer Tesla, personally I like the trend it follows and the fearless spirit of Elon Musk, but even Musk should buy 7572 as an investor.

But firstly he should do his homework and figure out what does this number 7572 mean. This number can be divided into three parts:

  • 75 is the first part indicates the year it’s produced first time
  • 7 is the second part which tells you the grade of raw material
  • 2 is the third part shows out which factory make it

There are 4 factories for that third part:

  • Kunming Tea Factory = 1
  • Menghai Tea Factory = 2
  • Xiaguan Tea Factory = 3
  • Puer Tea Factory = 4

They all belong to Yunnan Local Product & Animal Co., Ltd., in 1975 China had not open yet, all business belonged to the government, you will see a lot of old coding system in China tea history.

1957, informally Ripe Puer invented in Guangdong

According to the China Puer Tea Standard GB/T 22111-2008, only teas come from Yunnan can be named as Puer, then what’s the business with Guangdong? Guangdong is a big province in the Southeast of China, close to Hong Kong, Yunnan sits in the Southwest of China.

Historically even today Guangdong is the biggest consumer market for Puer tea, Fangcun Tea Market is the biggest tea wholesale market in China and most of the teas there over 70% is Puer.

In the early 1950s, Guangdong Tea Import & Export Company was founded, they exported mainly Mao Cha or Raw Puer to Hong Kong and Macao, but they can not eat so much Raw Puer, so the Guangdong Tea Company decided to research Ripe Puer. In 1957 they made a success and have a document about that deal.

You eat and you change, you drink you change the world too.

That’s very true especially in this consumerist society, consumer has the power. Guangdong people loves aged Puer and that aging takes so many years, not so many people has the patience for that waiting or lucky to get one aged Puer.

A certain 10 per cent. will ensure its employment anywhere; 20 per cent. certain will produce eagerness; 50 per cent., positive audacity; 100 per cent. will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 per cent., and there is not a crime at which it will scruple, nor a risk it will not run, even to the chance of its owner being hanged.

Thomas Dunning

No surprise the tea merchants will try to fulfill the consumers’ desire and created informally Ripe Puer tea nongovernmental. I believe that’s the foundation the Guangdong Tea Company can invented Ripe Puer in so short time.

Puer tea must come from Yunnan? No, it was not.

In Guangdong, they made a lot of Ripe Puer with local varietals, even small leaf varietals, even not sun-drying tea but roasting-drying green tea, but they found sun-drying material makes the best quality. So even you are in the United States and if you have a tea plant you can try to make a Ripe Puer too. No guarantee!!!

Posted on Leave a comment

The chance routes to the nature and health – Free Tea Program

Pouring free tea into cups - Free Tea Program
Enjoy a tea party – Photograph by Oriento

The longer I live the more confident I believe there is no free lunch in the world, and this “no free lunch” idea saves me many times from trap, more importantly, it encourages me to do the right thing and focus on it instead of searching for shortcut.

But free tea is different, everyone deserves a chance to meet a cup of good tea. This idea came from a visit. Many years ago like in 2013, we welcomed a visit from US Carthage college students, one of them told me he didn’t know tea can be so tasty as the tea he ever met was terrible. I was shocked to hear this very truth, also it occurs me to think why so many people do not know about tea or like tea.

A good tea is just as easy to understand as cola, you do not need to become a tea professional in order to appreciate it, your tongue, nose can tell.

So it is not about knowledge, then what it is about?

That student’s word has always been circling in my head, when he came to here China and drank a good tea he knew the difference instantly, if he can meet that good tea in United States easily, he may find the tea enjoyment long time ago, in other words all he need is a chance to meet good tea.

From 2013 till now, it’s been a long time and I didn’t see much difference of the situation, to most people tea is still a grandma stuff even many friends around me. 5 years ago I had my first child, if you are parents you must understand how unreasonable I want to protect my kid from hurting by the world, especially the drinks out there, so much sugar and mysterious addictions, I even ever met somebody who drinks cola only and no water at all, sounds terrible but it’s true. Tea is so tasty and a healthy drink, it would be great everyone drinks tea.

So I decided to break the ice, make a Free Tea Program, sure I do not want to break my pocket, the quantity of free tea would be 40 grams or 50 grams only, I hope more and more people try it and let their tea journey have a start.

How this Free Tea Program works?

  1. Every month the chosen free tea will be published, including the specific SKU, buying link and coupon, check back here for new coupon.
  2. Applying the free tea coupon when checkout.
  3. One time each month for everybody, so if you get a free tea in November, you still can get another one in December.
  4. We recommend you create an account when check out for easier all tracking.
  5. Please note the shipping freight is not free.

Spread the word and enjoy!


Updates of 2019 December: