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Tea producing diary 2019


October 18 – Dry and Sunny.

4 Days ago there was a raining happened in the night, we have been waiting for it for over 2 months, that got me excited even more than The NBA Finals, I can imagine how happy of the land the plant as well as the grass there in the garden.

Location:Caixi, Juxi village, Long Juan town, Anxi county, Fujian province China
Varietal:Tieguanyin Iron Goddess
Plucking time:13:00
Night tumbling – Photograph by D.C.


Fresh leaves arrived on 14:00 after 3 pluckers’ hard work, it’s not delivered to the factory actually to a 100+ years old house surrounded by mountains and big trees. This old house has been abandoned for many many years, even no family live nearby, just him sits here with clean air and bird singing. This house belongs to a friend’s relatives, quite complex aha but this relationship not just works but very helpful especially in the countryside. We regret to drive our car to be here, this is a very primitive road, the roadside grass gently touch our car just as a lover when we drove slowly, it’s better to use motorcycle.

A cloth was unfolded on the ground just in front of the old house, 28 kgs fresh raw tea leaves laid on the cloth for sun withering, it’s in the deep mountain and altitude is high, the temperature decreased quite quickly, only about 28°C, after 30 minutes, it even decreased to 25°C, at this time the first leaf was a bit soft but not others, them temperature can not hold deeper withering so we got them into the house.


As the sun withering is not enough so we made a light first tumbling, put the leaves into a rolling round basket for 5 minutes so the leaves can collide with each other as well as the basket wall, the surface of leaves will be broken and gets some chemical reaction with the air. We call it Yao Qing or Shaking or Dancing, that’s the unique craft differ Oolong from green/black tea.

We didn’t use air conditioner to control the temperature, I believe the clean air in high mountain has a spirit that can refresh the tea inside. Besides it’s an old house, not many equipments available, we need to follow the most traditional way by in use of the nature. The reason we came here instead of a modern factory it’s quite simple, I have a friend who want to learn tea making all by hands. There is a rumor in programming:

Lazy one can make better programming.

Also there is a found the “boring can evoke children’s imagination” while all commands kill creativity. Here in this old house we can be ourself, ask questions, resolve the problem.

The first tumbling is in order to make the moisture of leaf even, as the sun withering will let the leaf lose more moisture than the stem, right now they are fair again.

14:40 House withering begins

After several minutes even was broken as the air permeability of leaf and stem is different, leaves are put onto the bamboo tray with 5cm high, the leaves need to breath so do not stack too thick. The moisture in stems will flow to the leaf so make it hardish again.

Sit still for about 1.5 hours until the green color of leaf become darker while the edge turn lighter green, grassy decreased and a bit of flavor available, then it’s ok to continue for the second tumbling.

15:10 Tumbling goes to 2nd time

Based on the 1st tumbling, the preparation for moisture migration is ready. This time the real exercise begins, so the tumbling would be heavier than previous one, it’s about 27 RPM, this tumbler is over 30 yrs old that can not adjust the rate however it works pretty well. So we decided to make a longer time as 10 minutes.

We just watched its play, like a slow movie, every round it makes a noise, something like old wood going to break down but it makes it every time. I was happy to have this music with us. We did not have time to appreciate the insect’s song outside, even they were trying to please us with different rhythm.

Ten minutes was so short, finally the gate of tumbler was opened, we dig our heads into these hero leaves, they relived with full of blood, a little grassy, leaf tip cocks up, you can see it’s in a state of excitement. Now better to put them back to the bamboo tray for a rest.

15:30 House withering again for 2.5h

Time is miracle that can get you a lot of shows. Slowly the leaf gets soft again, the moisture in the leaf ran away to have a tryst with someone we do not know. There was a bird outside, he seems quite like the rearview mirror of car, jumps up and down, maybe he hasn’t seen mirror, maybe he is just a kid, he was kind of shy that tried to hide when I looked at him. Let him play, I think. After about 5 minutes you finally fly away, I didn’t know he made some white shit on the mirror 🙂

Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The leaves start to have a little flowery aroma, we were so excited to find this. After a long voyage, finally to saw a bit light of lighthouse from the afar. The leaf became soft again and back curved, the green color turned lighter and you can see the edge got a bit of red. When the grassy smell stepped down, that’s the show time again.

18:10 Tumbling goes for red

This is the most important time for aromatics conversion, red edge formation happens massive here. The round bamboo cage shaking was kind of wild at this time, so as the grassy smell, it needs to be as heavy as possible, step into the climax of Symphony. Moisture in the stems flows to leaf and make it stiff until the whisper appear.

We were strange people, bend over and attach our nose/ears as close as possible to the tumbler, at that moment I am sure I meditated like a great monk with a blank yet clear mind. It’s in the deep mountain and it’s October, I didn’t realize the sun back home so soon, the cold air seems has more power with the help of darkness, it’s a bit chilly but I know the leaves are on hot dancing, present every possible posture they can, their happiness eventually will become the sweetness and aromatic, I dare not to move a finger in case of interrupting them.

But we have to stop them, checking their edge how red it is. After 40 minutes shaking, unfortunately we didn’t get what we were looking for. The sun withering wasn’t heavy enough, we did not luck to have enough sunshine. “Well begun is half done”, now we can not agree more. The options we have is to make greenish common tea or continue for longer tumbling for great traditional legacy tea. We chose the difficult one.

Another 10 minutes? Ok, how is it, still not enough? let’s make another 5, all right 5 minutes again, finally we got the aroma, although the red edge area not ideal yet we gotta to make call it off, I know they have done their best and exhausted quite lot. Anyway we can make it a bit right by piling longer time in the end.

19:20 Heroes rest as house withering

Leaves were put back onto bamboo tray, as high as 10cm, the thicker the better but not the center part in order to prevent temperature of leaves flying too high. Right this time we were kind of free, we stepped out of the house, darkness suddenly hit us totally, barely see anything but cold clean night air, slowly naughty stars emerge more and more, they are shinning bling bling and they are so many there, they look so pure that totally different from the city sky, we were lucky to be touched.

A small episode at 5:10am

The leaves stay on the tray for long time house withering, finally we can have a rest but I woke up at 5:10am, it’s blindly dark here, I decided to check them out. When I went out my room, I hear a song nearby, a very quiet song, I 100% confirmed no song in day time and no one live around, might that be ghost singing?

Next morning our host came from the village at the foot of mountain, he invited me to see his chickens, his motorcycle driving skill is excellent, when we got there I found that song again, he said it’s for his chickens.

06:30 Tumbling goes to the final time

The fourth time tumbling is for aroma, no need to be too strong, we made it 4 minutes and pile it up to increase the oxidization, when the aroma hits the peak and has about 20% red area, that’s the time for stopping oxidization.

Killing green for stopping oxidization

There is a big oven in the old house, the oven is old too, over 30 years old but still looks shining. We used bamboo for firing. In Chinese culture, bamboo has very unique character, clean and integrity. Using bamboo can help tea get its nice aroma too. Although in the beginning there was too much smoke but when you see that smoke float in the sky with big trees, everybody’s mind is free at that time. We knew we had made something special.

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Tea tour is a drug

Puer tea producer Mr. Zhao Tian

All life is an experiment, the more experiments you make the better.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Believe it or not, you will love it more than you thought after that travel, as you will jump into tea and have really true feelings about tea, the tea world will open to you instantly.

A friend ever complained that she still doesn’t GET Puer although had steeped so many Puer teas for so many years, I said “maybe all you need is a Yunnan tea travel, leave the city you are living everyday and lay down the love and hate there. In the wild Yunnan, with new people, new air, you will get more than tea after speaking to the local farmer and that ‘more’ might be the key to a new world.”

We people are human beings not robot, we can try to understand the world by reading but not everything is built on papers or numbers especially when talking about tea, we need to touch it, feel it then get it into our body.

I still can remember how humble of our host in Nan Nuo Mountain, you will not think of hospitable or welcoming that normally we encounter, he was just there with you naturally without any extra polish, like the tree stand with the tree, I feel calm and very comfortable. He belongs to Ani People, a branch of Hani People. In my idea, he is not a very good tea producer but absolutely a good cooker, his mom was plucking tea in their forest, like any mom she has a very sweet big smile when talking about his son, “he is kind of lazy.” without any blame, we can feel the proudness and love. We met a simple yet beautiful soul.

A cat walk in the old tea forest.
Cat walking in old tea forest

Food is a gift for tea man

Speaking of cooking, not just book, house or language can represent a culture, food also can be a very nice ambassador or even a better one. “Do not eat too much.” that’s my warning words when out for a tea travel.

If there is good tea, there must have good food.

Daniel XX H

The nature is very generous if we treat her well, all kinds of mushrooms, wild vegetables etc, all so charming, the processing can be very simple, actually it is, most of the meals I had on the tea travel are not complexly cooked, it’s just tasted so good. It’s very difficult to have such kind of food in the city.

Cook egg with fresh tea leaves
Cook eggs with fresh Puer tea leaves

Pick some tea leaves, an iron pan, several eggs and a little salt, fire it up with dried branches, drinking tea alongside while wait for the tea egg, what I can assure you is this is really a different egg.

Know tea by eating

Have you ever seen somebody use hot water wash apples? This might be odd, yes this was very odd to me when the first time I saw a foreigner do this, now I get it even suggest foreign tea friends don’t eat not-cooked food or drink local raw water, like the old Chinese saying indicates, “The unique features of a local environment always give special characteristics to its inhabitants.”

Let’s take chilli as an example, in Wuyi Mountain people prefer to spicy food as this can help them survive through cold winter. Also regarding meal, you will always get large, this is connected to its enthusiastic and simple folkways. Thus you will not surprised they chose the traditional charcoal roasting for rock tea to get much stronger, more complex tasting while in the south of Fujian, Anxi county evolved into a lighter greener version of iRON Goddess of Mercy.

Actually in a lot of tea production areas, people do not say “drink tea” instead they say “eat tea”, another reason to this tradition is to local people tea is a must for human body just as important as food.

Pay more for tea

This might sound stupid but it’s really really true, a friend ever took a tea travel with me to Wuyi Mountain, actually we went to an unknown area that just neighbor to Tong Mu Guan that belongs to another city, almost no tourist there, undeveloped forest and lake, old wooden houses and wild tea plants, they all just sit there, some tea plants have serious damage by insects but don’t worry, it will go away when the summer leave, no human intervention at all.

The view there is gorgeous, people are nice but their tea processing skill is not as good as it should be, still we bought the tea with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I asked my friend why he made that order, he said:”It’s just all damn beautiful!”

Besides it’s a huge fun to cup all teas that got from the travel with friends, agree? 🙂

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Can’t complete purchase because cart empty

Drive in Yunnan

Maybe you encountered an error while tried to make an order here, that just can not complete the buying while checkout and shows “Your cart is empty”, this problem happened between July 5 – 11 and fixed on July 12.

Sorry for this inconvenience as at that time I was in Yunnan for a tea travel, you know sometimes in the deep mountains of Yunnan that over 2000m high just can not get access to internet.

I figured out the problem, it’s about the Cache System, we use Opcache to accelerate PHP and Memcached to store SQL queries, the Cart page might be cached accidentally so always tell you it’s empty, so I purged all cache and switch the WordPress cache plugin from WP Super Cache to W3 Total Cache to have a better control of exception cached page. As we build this online shop all by ourselves, the manual is open sourced and freely available on Github repository.

Actually it’s someone submitted our contact form to report this issue or we will not get it until our business fall down, no words can express our appreciation, thank you Thomas and Brandon, you saved my ass.

I know you guys love tea as much as we do, thank you is not enough, offering good tea is not enough too, I will try to post the background and stories as frequently as possible and YouTube maybe, all can help to understand the tea a bit better and more possibilities to enjoy it. “No secrets hidden.” you got our promise, using mystery to fool you is out of our line.

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How to plant tea seeds in Belgium

Sprouting from tea seeds

As we offer tea seeds randomly,
this guide might be helpful to let your tea plant dream come true,
as it tells you how to survive in cold winter not just in Belgium.

Two kinds of tea seeds:
One from drinkable tea, that is Camellia Sinensis, this is the one we will talk;
One is Oil tea, latin name is Camellia Oleifera Abel, it’s for extracting oil.

Continue reading How to plant tea seeds in Belgium

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Tea fantasy – 7 days in Anxi

Next month my Chicago brother Jiaoshou will visit China to stay with us for a week. He has plans to open a tea class at his college. The plan is for us to spend the whole week in Anxi county exploring tea, but there are no details yet. What can we do in those seven days?

My first thought is that we absolutely must drink the best tea there. There are so many famous tea varieties, all of them excellent, in Anxi. Continue reading Tea fantasy – 7 days in Anxi

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Why we opened this shop…

Spring Sprout

It’s quite simple: we were not happy with the teas available on the market. It is so difficult to buy a first-rate tea, even when you’re willing to pay a top price. In China the problem is even worse, since so many people know about tea or have connections to a tea farmer, and it is consequently more expensive to buy teas online. Continue reading Why we opened this shop…