Travels 2018: New Explorations for Hugo

August 1, 2018
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For his trip to Asia this year, Hugo was accompanied by Manuel, manager of the Montreal Tearoom. During the month of March, they toured the island of Taiwan meeting various producers. They then visited South Korea a first time for Camellia Sinensis. Though for so many years we have received Korean tea samples, that didn’t fit with our collection, it is a tea region that had largely remained a mystery to us.

Taiwanese Reunion

Hugo spent most of his time this year in Lugu and Mucha. He met Mr. Gao, our Mucha Tie Guan Yin producer whose teas, produced in very small batches, are sorted manually by his daughter, his wife and his neighbour. From there they went on to visit Mr. Nen Yu, Dong Ding and Shan Li Xin producer with Leon, his son. Hugo and Manuel also shared quite a magical morning with Mr. Chang Fu Chin (our producer in Guei Fei) and his wife. It was a very special event where each participant wore an apron with the effigy of a tea and had to be "the master of that tea" serving it to the others. Surrounded by the sound of birdsong, it was a memorable experience of learning, tasting and sharing.

Taste Discoveries

Hugo and Manuel then went to Mr. Chen's home for some delicious ... and some less delicious discoveries. After many years on travelling the island it is unusual to discover new teas. So it was a pleasant surprise to taste Mr. Chen's Ying Xian, a passionate producer from a tradition of 5 generations. A low altitude wulong tea with high altitude qualities, opulent, yet affordable. A must to try!

After discovering this delicious teaHugo and Manuel were invited to Mr. Chen's favourite restaurant to taste his favorite dish. Hugo describes the dish that arrived as a 'generous portion of an unidentified brown jelly'. Even today, they are not sure what they ate, and perhaps it's best kept that way;)

New Explorations

For the first time Hugo explored Korea and its tea culture. An ambitious mission to visit 3 producing regions. Hugo and Manuel traveled the regions of Jeju, Hadong and Boesong producing certified organic teas for the most part. Although much of the tea industry is relatively young in Korea (40-50 years). Though we found some interesting leads that were making good quality teas we confirmed the constant tension we have always had with this region, that of the price-quality ratio. We have too many teas from other regions of superior quality for much lower prices. But having made some interesting connections it will be a region that we will continue to observe in coming years.

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