François Marchand - Central China 2011

Central China 2011

In 2011 trip to Asia was significantly different to previous years. Firstly, Josiane, one of my colleagues from Montreal, accompanied me for my three weeks in China, and, for the first 10 days, I was a travel guide for the prizewinners of the 2010 Fund Raiser the 'Grande Guignolée'. Their external perspective reminded me of what fascinates me in this country full of contrasts: the uniqueness of our relationship with the people and the privilege of seeing China by way of the cultivation of tea, so rich in history and flavor, details that can sometimes be less obvious or forgotten without this stimulus and external perspective.

From the point of view of tea, the trip started well in the area of Hangzhou where Long Jing is produced . For our second day in the region, we had the great privilege of meeting Mr. Lu who has won national awards for best manual transformation. We tasted a tea he had made, literally the best Long Jing of our lives! After Hangzhou, we left Jasmin to head for Anhui Province where Huang Shan Mao Feng and Taiping Hou Kui are produced. The latter tea, produced in a village accessible only by boat was the highlight of our stay with Anne and Andrew. I had reserved my favorite spot in China for them. However, I was surprised by a crowd of dozens of country folk since I have always been alone on this magical boat ride. I must say I became disappointed and nostalgic to think that my corner of paradise had been discovered. we then realized that it was the gang of pluckers who were arriving in the village for the very beginning of the harvest season. Phew!

With a twinge of regret we said goodbye to Anne and Andrew - throughout the journey they had always been enjoyable and stimulating company. Josiane and I continued onto the terroirs where Lan Xiang, Lu An Gua Pian, and Huo Shan Huang Ya are produced

For the last week of this tea voyage, we did a little exploration of Hunan province, where we found the Wei Shan Mao Jian organic, an excellent and lively tea which is very affordable for the quality. Then we flew to Guangxi, where we waited for Daniel, an American resident of Liu Bao in China for 7 years who is passionate about aged tea. With him we met Mr. Su, owner of the only large factory in the village of Liu Bao itself, which produces tea made in the traditional way. So we now have three new teas from this place, teas that enchanted me with their flavors, authenticity and the passion of the people who made them.

I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, say that this was the year when I rediscovered the China that I love.