Leaving Vincents home we headed to back towards Qimen town. I had been here last year in the search for quality organic Keemun tea >> read more here >> so why was I back?
Well at Comins quality and provenance are both key. When we visited last year the season was in mid flow. At this time I have now learned [the hard way] that you simply cannot start to make specifications about what you want/don't want. Its too late. The leaves are ready and time is ticking, they need to be picked and processed as soon as possible. We were in time to see the splendid picture perfect scenes of tea plucking, the weather was great - but we were too late.
It might seem strange to think that you would specify what type of tea you want - certainly many of us in the UK we tend to think that 'Keemun' is simply 'Keemun', 'Long Jing' simply 'Long Jing' the reality is far more complex. What grade do you want? What style of tea do you want? What picking date do you want - pre or post Qingming or Ching Ming festival [also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day]. As we discussed last year in our blogs there are not too many people like us wandering around in this particular area looking for tea to be made from very specific geographical areas or with very specific agricultural practices. Without specific orders for specific types of tea in this area the leaves from the organic plot of land we had come to see simply go into the local factories and are mixed in with leaves from other areas. The teas we found last year simply did not meet our specification and therefore to get what we wanted we had to return and work closely with our tea friends on what we hope will be the first step in a long term partnership.
And so I returned with our specific requests. The leaves will be plucked to our standard from a specific organic plot referenced in last years blog >> read more here >> and the processing overseen by Mr Lu who I had the pleasure to meet and taste and discuss tea with.
Mr Lu is something of a legend in Keemun tea. Vincent gave some background to the extraordinary level of experience that Mr Lu holds "From 1950-1978 during these 30 years this was the only tea factory allowed to produce Keemun tea and export to other countries. Mr Lu was the master of that factory" Its safe to say that our Keemun tea offering for 2018 is in most excellent hands. We expect our Keemun Congou [Level 1 & Special Grade] and Keemun Maofeng [Special Grade] tea to be in store Early May.
Safe in that knowledge it was time for lunch....