Jasmin Desharnais - China 2010
It was with great pleasure and excitement that I planned my 2010 trip to China. This year was my eighth spring buying trip and each year the preparation becomes easier. It was to be a "lighter" trip than 2009 with just 24 days on the tea road. Alexis R. was to accompany me and as we left the reports of bad weather and crop shortage had us worried about the availability of some teas and, of course, the prices. Unseasonal snow, low temperatures and heavy rains were creating the worst season I had seen in my career. The biggest problem was to be the quantities of production; some producers had manufactured 20% to 40% of their 2009 count. It was sure to be an expensive year with the producers putting up prices to make up for this loss. In this difficult year I noticed more than ever the importance of the bonds of friendship that I have developed over the years.
On the objectives agenda this year: the demystification of cultivars used for black wulong as much in Wuyishan as Feng Huang. I visited the Tea Research Institute in each of these important wulong-roasting regions. More work on my personal interest in the Bai Ye cultivar had me travelling to Anji Bai Cha meeting some interesting new producers focussing on young Bai Ye plants. Another cultivar the Bai Ji Guan, a yellow-white leaf similar to the Bai Ye, lead me to the Wuyi Shan and Huang Jin Ye. Another highlight on my list this year was a visit to the gardens of Jingning Bai Cha. There were two producers that I wanted to spend more time with. We ended up staying there a few extra days. As usual the typical visit begins with a day of sightseeing and feasting before the tasting and buying can begin. The rest of my journey we spent with François after meeting up with him in Anhui and travelling on to Jiangxi and Hunan. I finally had the chance to visit the mysterious and beautiful Tai Ping Hou Kui