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China 2024 Day 3 : Xiaohu town : Ms Zeng & Mr Shen


Welcome to the third in our series of blogs documenting our tea & teaware sourcing trip to China & South Korea.  At Comins we are very fortunate to have friends all over the tea world.  When we visit them on our trips we promise to share what we learn & in our recent survey you shared that our blog is one of the best ways to do that.  So we hope you enjoy the journey!
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In our second blog we shared our time with Mr Lang & Liou Juli.  When the time came to leave we boarded a train to meet Ms Zeng - we were off to Xiaohu town the mother place of Narcissus Shui Xian tea - a one kind of tea. ‘It is like a gentle woman and has a fruity taste and aroma’ shares Ms Zeng.  Many of you ask us how we communicate on our trips - proof here of how useful translate can be :)

   

We make a quick stop to pick up some Jiang Long who works with the local government to promote the area & takes us to see the mother tree which is 170 years. As we walk Jiang Long explains : 'we are the homeland of the tea and it will spread all over the world. You may taste many types of Shui Xian but the Shui Xian from here is the best'

Our next stop is the museum dedicated to Shui Xian - as we entered there is a beautiful blind with a picture depicting of Sheuan Shi li [below right] - the tea here is special because of its pleasant climate and its a place we will visit later. 26 lamps each with the different tea scene on it line the entrance :) tea heaven!

 

Jiang Long reads out a poem about Shui Xian ‘cup of tea moment of peace’ - there are 8 sentences in the poem - it talks of the tea of Shui Xian and makes for a special moment - tea once again bringing people together.  We looked at some tea utensils including a very unique grinder for making powdered white tea which is whisked [we will share more about where this conversation led us in the next blog] & look over an image of the processing steps for Shui Xian.  Made with real gold the picture depicts 

  • Tea harvesting
  • Sun drying
  • Rolling
  • Roasting

'There are many steps in making the yancha' Jiang Long shares - 'people can taste every different step - like the layers of the tea - you can find which one suits you there is no good or bad'

  

We take a look at some beautiful photos - one looking down at Xiaohu town and the other a sign saying Xiaohu Shui Xian

 

As we are about to leave Ms Wang prints makes us a beautiful image of the peach cave - high in the mountains she told us that Shui Xian was found in the cave first by a farmer 203 years ago. She finishes her creation with a stamp that says the mother place of Shui Xian and offers it as a souvenir - something we hope to frame in the tea house as a memory of this special place.  

Back on the road again we head to Sheuan Shi li stopping on the way to meet with Mr Shen who shows us a view of one of the tea mountains. In the middle are old tea trees nestled amounts the smaller bushes. He explains that because we are high and there is a big variation in temperature between night & day the growing conditions for tea are good. 

We carry on along the road to an area where his tea is planted and take a walk down the steep slopes to see the old trees - the locals finding it considerably easier than we do.  Mr Shen he has 100 acres of old trees - at this spot there are just 4 acres.  The trees in front of us are 80 years. The Oldest one lies in the deep forest in a place that is very hard to find.   Shui Xian is the major tea but he also makes  Roi Gui. The tea is picked just once a year in late April to May.  

 

We get back into the car and head to the village of Sheuan Shi li.   

Arriving in the village we prepare the climb the famous tea mountain overlooking Sheuan Shi li.   This is their organic tea mountain which we had seen pictured in the museum [below] planted with Roi Gui - how exciting to be able to climb it! As we walk Jiang Long shows us the different cultivars planted here 'Roi gui leaf has a different vein and and the edge is different from Shui Xian'  he explains as we look at the different leaves.  The tea is all organic on the mountain : nothing is put on the tea 'we planted 15 years ago and it has always been this way' Mr Shen explains 'I want to make a healthy brand - for health.   This tea is very different from the teas you will find in Wuyi' he continues as we discuss the next destination on our tea trip 'here the tea is planted on the mountain - this tea is more smooth sweet and long lasting - you will really taste the difference'

   

We reach the top & take in the amazing views of Sheuan Shi li.  And right on the top of the mountain as in the picture we had seen at the museum is a circle of the  Cai chai cultivar used for making white tea.  Beautiful. 

 

We head back to the village and we learn more about Mr Shen & Ms Zeng.  Mr Shen is a government honoured Inheritor of Minbei (Northern Fujian) Oolong Tea Production Technology,  while Ms.Zeng is one of the government honored Inheritors of Jianyang White Tea Production Technology.   While he makes us some tea Mr Shen shares more about their approach - they insist on original ecological management.   He lets the tea grow naturally - 'organic tea is good for health' he shares.   His family and grandfather planted the tea and his tea company is named after three generations of his family.  You can certainly taste the expertise in the tea.

The smell of food drifts up the stairs and we are called down to enjoy the feast of local produce. In the kitchen Dumplings prepared in all shapes - we sit down to a great meal after a wonderful morning with friends brought together by tea

  

We can't wait for this years tea but patience is needed as the tea must rest 6 months before the final firing.  Until then we have a few teas in stock you can try including this Queshe, Lancong Shui Xian & Qi Lan



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