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Unexpected meeting

24 May 2012

at 22:06 by François Marchand

Organic, Fair Trade Tea
This was the first time since travelling in China (over 7 years) that I stopped in Hubei Province, in the capital Wuhan, to be more precise. In planning my initial trip, I only had to pass through this immense city just for a train transfer. Then I became aware of a company in this province that produced organic and fair trade teas. My schedule did not allow me to go to their plantation (1hr 30 min flight from the capital) but I was still able to make initial contact by visiting their offices in Wuhan. What a great meeting it was!

It is very rare, currently, to find fair trade teas in China. There is no demand in the local market, at all. In this case the people who have organised this project in the region of Enshi are enthusiasts who believe in the values conveyed by the fair trade market. Various European companies have offered guidance and the project has worked very well. The fair trade framework has enabled the construction of hospitals, schools, and to install drinking water systems and electricity in the communities where tea is produced. In fact, the project worked so well that they have initiated a second one in Yunnan.

While the values promoted are most commendable, what about the tea? The manufacturing techniques used are extremely professionally, I was shown a selection of products each as interesting as the other. Four of them I particularly liked: Lu Zhen – organic / fair trade, Enshi Long Jing – organic / fair trade, Yunnan Bai Hao Yin Zhen – organic / fair trade, and a Pu Er – organic / fair trade which will arrive later. Meanwhile I shall certainly set aside some time in 2013 to visit more of the plantations …

Further evidence that tea produced in a good state of mind is very likely to be well made and tasty.

François

Mr. Qu

Travel and meetings over tea

18 May 2012

at 3:02 by Manuel Legault-Roy

meetings over tea

We’re already in the last stretch of our Vietnam / Taiwan tour. What a great opportunity to share so much time with these tea producers and their families. Being ‘in the loop’ for almost four years now, I was already well aware this approach of the four tasters of Camellia Sinensis. I have now experienced this positive effect first hand in our recent meetings with the artisans of the tea world. The thing I had not anticipated was the reverse impact we have on them? I suppose many producers have little perspective on their own work as they are bound to that tea culture which forms such a part of them. It is true that this proximity to the tradition contributes to the richness of a place since the knowledge handed down for many generations suggests a more authentic product.

On the other hand, travel is very educational even for those who only receive passing travellers. Following a meeting with a producer, if the atmosphere is one of discovery, Hugo usually offers a comparative tasting of some teas from other regions. Darjeeling, Anji Bai Cha and other unknown teas bring an unexplored range of taste to these craftsmen. It is all done modestly for the sole purpose of transmitting our work, our philosophy, and to share more with them. In showing them the Camellia book, we add a visual aspect to the different tea processing techniques in Asia . Many stimulating discussions ensued. I was so proud to see how by visiting the producers in Asia, Camellia’s tasters share an outside perspective and contribute to this unique and dynamic exchange.

Thank you!
Sabrina.

News from Hugo and Sabrina in Vietnam

2 May 2012

at 2:42 by Manuel Legault-Roy

Mrs Thoa, Nhai and Hiep

It has been 3 years since I last had the opportunity to see the courageous women of the Thai Nyugen cooperative. They are unique, hard working and very hospitable. The moment we arrived we had a surprise. The smell of wulong! Recently they began, under the watchful eye of Mr. Hsu, a Taiwanese, to learn the manufacture of wulong. We were surprised to learn that in the past 10 years, they had already planted several Taiwanese cultivars (Cingxin, si ji chun, jin shuan, etc). In addition to acquiring machinery to transform the tea, they also had to learn to transform the leaves.

Well, I would say the results were very encouraging. In addition to manufacturing a Taiwanese type wulong (Cingxin), low oxidation (20%) with floral accents,(we will have it on the menu shortly), they have explored the path of Bai Hao … (a great Taiwanese classic). The test sample that we tasted is also promising. On the other hand I have encouraged them to create THEIR Bai Hao type wulong with it’s own unique signature and not just an imitation of its Taiwanese relative. The taste a marriage between white tea with green and black wulong … very silky texture and an endless scent of honey …

Thanks for reading,
Hugo

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