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Anji Bai Cha, the good years and the great years.

25 April 2014

at 8:53 by Seb

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I woke up this morning in Deqing knowing that the road between me and tasting my favorite tea would be short! Also I cannot wait to catch up with the Yang family with whom I have had a great connection for 10 years. I found myself counting down the minutes on the journey in anticipation of wetting my lips with a glass of fresh Anji Bai Cha!

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A wave of disappointment ran through me when I learned that the 2014 spring harvest has been one of the worst since the beginning of the twenty year history of this tea. The excessive temperatures during the past few weeks, just as the young shoots were sprouting, has produced larger and darker leaves than usual, and that, on tea plants already weakened by the dry heat wave of last summer (which I suffered through during the filming of La semaine verte!).

Tasting teas harvested in late March, made the day before my visit I found them better than expected but began to wonder how the price would be affected. Ms. Yang, a little anxious to see my reaction, told me immediately that it would actually be cheaper this year.

WOW! For the first time, I did not have to struggle to explain that a lower quality tea is not worth the same price as higher quality tea! So I selected a great tea for a great price : Anji Bai Cha at $ 22 for 50g!

News from Gabriel, traveling in India and Nepal with Kevin.

18 April 2014

at 6:58 by Seb

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After 22 hours of travel, Kevin and I finally arrived in Calcutta. In the vast chaos of this legendary city, we find some of the first precious leaves to grace menu this year.

Kevin met up with a close taster friend who leads us to his office to taste vast quantities of fresh samples just in from Darjeeling. Among them a Jungpana and Thurbo tailor made to Kevin’s specifications that seduce our taste buds. This is the stuff!

That night we had a very interesting dinner with Nigel Melican, a tea scientist,  worldwide consultant and a tea buyer from Tokyo also here for the Darjeelings.

Two days later, we are in the move again leaving Calcutta behind and flying to Darjeeling, where, Marie-Soleil Desautels, a free lance journalist, awaits us. She will follow us for five days from garden to garden, asking Kevin a myriad of questions about his traditional spring adventure.

We visit the gardens of Longview, Singell, Castleton, Goomtee, Steinthal, Glenburn, Jungpana and more.  Hours of  crisscrossing the bumpy mountain roads and misty valleys of Darjeeling. The managers of the gardens welcome us warmly and invite us to taste a number of their freshly picked teas.

My personal best memories so far were the visit to Jungpana, where a single footpath leads up the valley side to the plantation, and tasting the Castleton ‘Moonlight’ … a hand made leaf, so fresh and composed of beautiful buds, this tea flows like nectar on the palate, leaving a sense of a perfect balance both woody, fruity, and muscat flavors in the mouth.

At the time of writing, we are at Goomtee, ready to launch the attack on two other quality gardens: Gopaldhara and Thurbo.

Gabriel

The wonderful challenge of the teapot

9 April 2014

at 11:57 by Seb

Synnott

Ceramist Fabienne Synnott has enjoyed shaping clay since childhood. She studied at McGill University, with Richard Lynn Studham, a British potter. Inspired by Asian ceramics, she is particularly impressed by traditional Japanese glazes: Shinos, celadon, tenmokus, Kakis. For her, what makes tea objects so special is their ritual function. She also tends to attribute this dimension to other tableware.

When asked about her profession, she finds the words to express her love of ceramics: “My hands are two separate entities. They know what to do when I set to work. [...] I am inspired by nature and its many faces. I’m interested in the textures and patterns of the plant kingdom. I love the light and the way it transforms everything. I can be very emotional at the sight of the light that changes the colour of a leaf. Archetypal symbols such as the goddess and warrior fascinate me too.”

la belle urne de la femme à moustache...She appreciates the diversity and complexity of each step of her work. However, it is at the moment of taking the pieces out of the oven that she finds her greatest satisfaction. “Firing with gas or wood, I work to prepare the clay as well as possible, so that the fire leaves its mark. The oxygen reduction, characteristic of these firings, transforms the finish of the pieces leaving a palette of shades that I find beautiful. When the transmutation takes place, I’m really transported in contact with the pieces the oven offers me. ”

Above all, she enjoys the teapot, whose fabrication represents a wonderful challenge for her: “I say challenge because it seriously is one! You see, a teapot is made of four pieces that must be turned at more or less the same time and which will then be trimmed, carved and assembled. I treat every teapot as a sculpture in its own right. I search for aesthetic harmony as much as for the pleasure of functionality with a good feel in the hand, a spout which pours well, a screen which retains leaves without blocking, a lid that adds a touch of originality and stays in place when you pour. All this in an object that I want to be unique and well balanced. Yes, it is a great challenge every time! And that’s not to mention when one of these teapots comes out of the oven particularly blessed by the fire! ”

She likes to drink tea from fine china as well as from rustic stoneware with crackled glaze: “I have a very diverse collection of ceramics to drink from. It is as much about mood as variety. ”

Fabienne Synnott lives and works in Quebec. She is preparing an artistic residency for 2015 in Japan.

LOCAL POTTERS

Meet the Quebec artisans who are passionate about the objets and art of tea. Every two months, pieces by a different designer will be presented in this unique showcase, giving you the chance to enjoy the great quality and diversity of the work of some of our local potters.

 
 

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Welcome to the Special Collection
Here you will both find Teaware and Teas created by some of Asia’s most talented craftsmen.

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