Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lot's 2 Do ..Hong Kong Sunday .. USA Monday

Busy day, I'm off to Hong Kong tomorrow .. big day: 7/1/07, 10th. anniversary of the UK/China hand over, creating the HKSAR.
Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), is in HK participating in the Reunification Anniversary Celebrations.
let's hope it not to crazy and I get to where I need to be.

Matt, Paulo and I managed a quick trip to Dongguan, this morning. I picked up some tea pots and tea.

I have been contacted to see if I have factory sources for; Carved Chinese Tea Tables.
I'll post what I have in few days .. (plus email to DW)

Monday (7/2) I'm on Cathy back to California ...
We have plans for BBQ's etc with family and friends over the 4th. July holidays.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Happy Birthday: 生日快樂, Sheng ri kuai le

Julia's birthday Thursday, some fun in the office at the end of the day.
Birthday Cake: 生日蛋糕, Sheng ri dan gaoEvery engineer in the world can smell food, even 3 floors away.

Our Swiss friend Enrico joins us for dinner at the "Zoo" (nickname) our favorite Seafood Restaurant in Chang Ping.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Its Tuesday must be Kowloon

Tuesday, 11:00 am ferry from; Shenzhen 深圳 (shen zhen)
to Kowloon 九龙 (Jiu Long) Nine Dragons.
MRT from Tsim Sha Tsui 尖沙嘴 (TST) to Mong Kok 旺角 (Wang jiao)
Meet a couple of folks at Langham Place Hotel, then off.
MRT to Hong Kong Island 香港岛 (Xiang Gang Dao)
Exit at; Admiralty 金钟 (jin zhong) Subway station 地铁站 (di tie zhan)
Take Care of business then back to TST in time for the 4:15 ferry back to the Mainland.

Going for lunch is a full contact sport
; NO EYE CONTACT, is the golden rule. It's no wonder MP3 and ipods are Omnipresent, as most Hongkongers create their own reality.

"The Best Tea House Co., Ltd."
In the very, very crowded area of TST. (near site of the old Hyatt Regency)
Just around the corner is; "Ying Kee Tea House" Tea shops are great places to meet and talk with people .. in Hong Kong you find more English is spoken. Shops are small, shoehorned into non existing spaces.
Quality of goods, fair, but with less selection when compared to most in Guangdong. I look for items not found in Mainland stores, mostly hand crafted paraphernalia or imported items (not from China)

No rain, but Plenty of clouds as we pass Hong Kong Island. The port is in full swing and you can feel the buzz all over. But, back in Dongguan they had a down pour ... I got back around 5:30 pm and the rain was gone. Lucky me.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Nice Cup of Tea (English Style)

Eric Arthur Blair better known by the Pseudonym:
George Orwell

"A Nice Cup of Tea" By George Orwell published in the; Evening Standard, 12 January 1946.

If you look up 'tea' in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several of the most important points.
This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes.
When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden:

First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase 'a nice cup of tea' invariably means Indian tea.

Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.

Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.

Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.

Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.

Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.

Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.

Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one's tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.

Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.

Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.

Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tealover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt.

Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.

Some people would answer that they don't like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.

These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become.

There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet.

It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one's ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, ought to represent.

A palatable History (lesson)

The Tea Trade:
England was the last of the great European seafaring nations to establish a foothold in the Chinese and Indian tea trades. It was the Portuguese, founding the colony of Macao on the south-east coast of China in the 16th century, who first developed a taste for it. They were followed by the Dutch and French. The first imports of tea to England came in the mid-1650s, the period of Cromwell’s rule.

Shipping Tea:
Tea required careful handling on board ship. It had to be kept dry and away from strong smells. Tea bound for London from China was usually stored in chests.

1957 Vintage Tea Chest:
Selling tea:
One of the most important early tea retailers in London was Fortnum & Mason, in Piccadilly (established 1707). Nowadays, Fortnum’s sells around 60 varieties of tea, not including herbal infusions and tisanes. They include; Mandarin Jasmine, Rolling Clouds and the reputedly aphrodisiac Silver Tips.

Just another Scotsman:
The first dominant name in the modern tea trade is Thomas Lipton, a Glasgow entrepreneur who opened his first shop in 1871. Lipton imported tea directly from Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and was also a master of self-promotion. His slogan was “Direct from the tea gardens to the teapot”. He also coined the advertising phrase “Accept no substitutes”. Lipton received a knighthood from Queen Victoria in 1898.
Sir Thomas Lipton: The turning point in Lipton's career came after his success as a chain grocer when he entered the tea business. In 1889 he celebrated the arrival of his first twenty thousand tea chests in Glasgow with a parade of brass bands and bagpipers. The going rate for tea was then around three shillings a pound, but Lipton priced his at one shilling sevenpence.

Tea Anecdotes from Literature.

Plough through enough books on; history, botany, travel, biographies and scientific tomes, plus novels, both fact and fiction, you tend to collect and triangulate numerous stories and statistics. Legends and fiction, sprinkled with “truths and facts” are pervasive in the world of tea.
Tea stories:
From: “Three Men in a Boat” by Jerome Klapka Jerome, published in 1889.Left to Right:
Carl Hentschel (Harris) George Wingrave (George) Jerome K. Jerome (J)

“I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.”
We put the kettle on to boil, up in the nose of the boat, and went down to the stern and pretended to take no notice of it, but set to work to get the other things out.
That is the only way to get a kettle to boil up the river. If it sees that you are waiting for it and are anxious, it will never even sing. You have to go away and begin your meal, as if you were not going to have any tea at all. You must not even look round at it. Then you will soon hear it sputtering away, mad to be made into tea.
It is a good plan, too, if you are in a great hurry, to talk very loudly to each other about how you don't need any tea, and are not going to have any. You get near the kettle, so that it can overhear you, and then you shout out, "I don't want any tea; do you, George?" to which George shouts back, "Oh, no, I don't like tea; we'll have lemonade instead - tea's so indigestible." Upon which the kettle boils over, and puts the stove out.
We adopted this harmless bit of trickery, and the result was that, by the time everything else was ready, the tea was waiting. Then we lit the lantern, and squatted down to supper.
It is very strange, this domination of our intellect by our digestive organs. We cannot work, we cannot think, unless our stomach wills so. It dictates to us our emotions, our passions. After eggs and bacon, it says, "Work!" After beefsteak and porter, it says, "Sleep!" After a cup of tea (two spoonsful for each cup, and don't let it stand more than three minutes), it says to the brain, "Now, rise, and show your strength. Be eloquent, and deep, and tender; see, with a clear eye, into Nature and into life; spread your white wings of quivering thought, and soar, a god-like spirit, over the whirling world beneath you, up through long lanes of flaming stars to the gates of eternity!"

From: "The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams, published in 1979.
“No” he said. “Look. Its very, very simple … all I want …. Is a cup of tea. You are going to make me one for me. Keep quiet and Listen.” And he sat. He told the Nutri-Matic about India, he told it about China, he told it about silver teapots. He told it abot summer afternoons on the lawn. He told it about putting in the mike before the tea so it wouldn’t get scalded. He even told it (briefly) about the history of the East India Company.

“So that’s it is it ?” said the Nutri-Matic when he had finished.
“Yes.” Said Arthur, “that is what I want.”
“You want the taste of dried leaves in boiled water?”
“Er, yes. With milk.”
“Squirted out of a cow?”
“Well, in a manner of speaking I suppose …”

Synopsis of Tea Consumption over Time.
A few thousand years ago, some jungle tribal groups of south-east Asia chewed leaves from the tea plant.
Some two thousand years ago, tea was being drunk by a handful of religious communities.
A thousand years ago, it was drunk by millions of Chinese.
Five hundred years ago, over half of the world’s population was drinking tea. During the next 500 years it spread across the planet.
Second only to water, tea is more ubiquitous than any other type of drink. Its world consumption is equal to all other manufactured drinks combined, coffee, chocolate, cocoa, carbonated beverages and alcoholic drinks.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Weekend (周末 zhou mo) Tea, Food and Stuff

Saturday morning; Paulo picked me up and armed with a:
“Digital Camera”, 數碼照相機, shu ma zhao xiang ji, we headed off to Dongguan city.
First stop, visit a friend who has opened a new store, then off to get some DVD's. That done its time to head off to "The" tea shop and visit with friends old and new.
Mrs Yang has yet another commemorative offering from: Ban Zhang (班 章) factory. 1930-2007.
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t like this trend in over the top; Large and Impractical, packaging. This looks a little desperate, a nice 1,000 gram cake, with not one, but three Encyclopedias.
Offered at: 2,800¥ (RMB, yuan 元)
Encyllopedia Of China Puerh Tea” (3)
At first, these commemorative packages were interesting. As with many a “good thing”, marketers jump on it with the; “More is better” approach. No! it’s a turn off, so I’ll stick to buying tea for its intrinsic value.

New in her store, are 3 generic samples of Pu-erh displays cakes. These are not intended for consumption, pressed from poor quality tea, used mainly as a decorative statement. The leaves are dense / hard pressed to render the required detail. Custom framed display cakes come in seemingly endless configurations. Not my “Cup O’Tea.

I picked up a couple of Yi Xing tea pots and some 12 year old Meng Hai loose Puerh.
Two half packages of 12 year old loose Pu-erh, 200¥ (RMB, yuan 元) each.This little pot is so different to any I have and is just ugly enough to make its way home with me.
Brown with sand finish I don't have many green pots, this plus the little brown one were very inexpensive. Less than half the cost of one packet of 12yr tea.

My friend Julia is having a run of bad luck with Kettles. She burned one pot and hot plate, shorted out another kettle. So I got her a Glass Kettle, easy to see when empty or water is boiling, along with a, spill proof, induction heater.
This set-up is devoid of any aesthetic value, hoping its practical features will endure.Lunch, at the tea house:Looking across the three open kitchens.
One of my favorite lunch dishes (Hot/Spicy Chicken) and play on words (Chinese Words)
Big Fire Chicken大火雞 & Cigarette Lighter 打火機
Both pronounced as: da huo ji, Big Fire Chicken and Strike Fire Machine.
What's left after the Chicken is gone .. very hot chillies

Friday, June 22, 2007

Very Hot and Humid: 很悶熱 hen men re

In Dongguan it rained incessantly for three weeks before I got here.
The day I arrived, the rain was switched off, the Sun turned on to GAS MARK 4 about 350F or 180C ..
With all that moisture, the relative humidity is a wee bit over unbearable, not a breath of wind to ease the suffering. Other than that, life is good.
Did I mention, my average daily consumption of tea is about 30 mutchkins.
What’s a Mutchkin? You say. An old Scottish unit of measure, equal to .9 of a pint.

The week has gone in blur, Oh that we could squeeze a day in between Wed and Thr. I’m convinced I could get caught up.
Thursday morning I went into Hong Kong, over to Kowloon after lunch, unfortunately I left some unfinished business and will have to go back on Sunday or next Tuesday.
My preferred route to and from Hong Kong/Kowloon to the Mainland, Turbo-Jet Ferry service.
Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal (中國客運碼頭 or 中港碼頭) located at: 33 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui (TST), Kowloon. Approx. one hour trip to Fu Yong ferry terminal.
Fu Yong Ferry Terminal, in Bao'An district of Shenzhen.
Mainland Port at Fu Yong, next to Shenzhen airport.The key: small port, uncrowded, full service immigration facilities (entry visas issued at port)
Heavy rains have brought large slit deposits and debris into the Pearl River Delta.
Dredgers and barges are working overtime.Executive decision .. Saturday will be a day off.
Paulo and I are off the see Mrs. Yang, AKA The Tea Lady.
A light lunch at Thai Basil.
Round out the day at: Song Shan Tea House, in the Hyatt Hotel, Song Shan Lake.
I’ve conclude this to be my overall favorite place to eat.
The menu is eclectic; food preparation impeccable, ingredients fresh, ambiance seems to adapt to your mood, all this, plus a fantastic staff.
Around the lake, Lychee trees are heavy with delicious fruit.That’s the Plan, lets see what Saturday brings. (pictures to follow)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

笨鸟先飞 ben niao xian fei

笨鸟先飞 ben niao xian fei ..Clumsy birds have to start flying early / The slow need to start early.
That’s why I’m up at 6:30 am getting a running start at the day.
Out on the late fisherwomen are hard at work.
Pictures from cell phone.
渔妇 yu fu FisherwomanEarly morning on a large lake .. hard work by hand

A little shade under the bridge.

A Honey of a deal

A touch of civilization in the midst of the chaos we call Dongguan.
Nice addition to breakfast; Fresh Honey, straight from the Honey Comb.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

In China Blogs Blocked (again)Update 6/24/07

"It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him." JRR Tolkien.

Again ... Mainland China has blocked various free speech and information web sites .. not sure for how long. I have access to add new posts and edit etc.

Here are a couple of PROXY links: (sometimes down for Maintenance)

Its Monday am -- its Hong Kong

No problems en route, arrived Hong Kong and into Kowloon by 7:45.
Next post when set up in China .. Happy Birthday Robbie (Sunday)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Spending Sunday at 35,000 feet.

Saturday morning , clear up a few odds and ends in the office.
Sunday morning, I'm on Cathay 881 from LAX to Hong Kong.
9:45 ferry from Kowloon to Fu Yong.
All being well should arrive in Chang Ping around 12 / 12:30 on Monday afternoon.
Next posting from China

Friday, June 15, 2007

BBQ and Party

Last night we had great BBQ and surprise Birthday party for Robbie.
Heather, Trevor Andrew and Robbie. What a great looking family.
Thats Ben with his Dad Robin and Robbie behind the plant.Ben and Robbie
Ashley having fun ..Robbie gets her surprise cake .. Robins wife Claudia on the right.
Trevor and Heather in the pool
A practice dive in the brother launches sister event. Lots of height, look at the camera .. 10 out 10 ...
Trevor and Ben, both feed and happy.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Busy week then off to China

Busy work week, Annual General meeting, Board Meeting and Stock holders meeting and Earnings Call on Friday. That on top of a full plate.

I'll be back into China on Monday the 18th. .. all being well I should arrive in Chang Ping around Noon.

This evening we have a BBQ planned with family and friends and a little surprise for someone very close !!!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Tea Tasting Results ..

Some time back I received 6 samples of Pu-erh teas.
(See June 6th. Community tea tasting Event) The 10 sets of samples have been reviewed, with each posing their findings and tasting reviews. The "official" identification of the provided samples are:
A: 2005 CNNP Shupu
B: 2005 Luxi Shupu
C: 2005 Tiandiren Shupu
D: 2005 CNNP "Big Blue Mark"
E: 2005 Jiangcheng Yesheng
F: 2005 Simao Yesheng

My determination as to sample type and origin:
A: Luxi Tea Co. Organic 8821
C: Menghai Tiandiren Factory
D: Simao Wild
E: Jiangcheng Wild
F: CNNP “ Big Blue Mark”

2 out of 6 correct as to factory of production / Source.
6 out 6 correctly identified as Raw vs Cooked.

Thanks to the organizers, this was a fun event.
At the end of the day my take away advise is: Buy from a reputable / trusted source, buy what YOU prefer (its your taste buds) at a price you think is fair.

California: Just another great weekend; Sunday

Our friend Michael Li is visiting from China, so on Sunday we arranged a morning of shooting and a BBQ at our house in the afternoon.
Michael, is now planning on getting his CDL. (California Drivers Licence)
Michael, Andrew and Heather.First time to fire a "Real Gun"
Michael, looking like a pro.

California: Just another great weekend; Saturday

I feel bad for my friends in Dongguan, Southern China - they are getting hit with torrential down pours .. Worst in 50 yrs.
A villager climbs a ladder to reach a drainage sluice station in Zi Jin County, South China's Guangdong Province June 10.
Here in Southern California the weather is extremely pleasant, and life is good.