Friday, March 21, 2008

Duck Soup

Coming to a restaurant near you....

Day in the Park

Lazy day in Guangzhou park (in the old embassy district) before I headed home.


State-side for a few

I get the chance to be home for a few weeks, what with one thing and another. This weekend I'll dig into my stash of new tea and related stuff.
In the meantime check out some of the: Non-polluting recycling efforts in Dongguan China.
And where do all those plastic bags go ? Road bed ...
This is what you see when roads are opened up for sewer repair.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tuesday and Out of China...

As others set out on new adventures .. I head home .. lucky me.

As a NOTE to travelers:
I've bounced around SE Asia / China for 20+ years. Today was the FIRST time ever, I had had bags inspected at Customs ! The recent terrorist activity in XiAn, Tibetan unrest/riots and the upcoming Olympics have all added to heightened security at China's / HK's points of entry/exit.

On the lighter side, the Customs inspector, commenting on the X-Ray image, .. "That's a lot of tea" with a smile .. Tea does make life better.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Too Much Stuff ???

Last minute changes add a certain amount of spice to ones life on the road.    A change, long in the planning, only came to light as of yesterday. Now I will return to So. Cal ahead of schedule and attend to a few things in person.
My corner of: So.Cal
Good timing in a way, as I need a new travel authorization document issued by HRH diplomatic corps in DC. DSC03451
 It only took 18 months to fill my current passport!!!
My corner of: So China
So all that said here is my latest collection of "bits and bobs" Yes THREE cases full of Tea stuff.     Not to worry  only two are coming back home. One stays in hotel.  As you can see one of my purchases is a tad longer than a 32" case ..
DSC03635 No problem;  I "engineered" a fit .. the old adage: "If it doesn't fit, get a bigger hammer." I finally picked up a beautiful; Black Granite Table. Ok! so that just one case, "What's in the other?"  "Surprise."DSC03631

Friday, March 07, 2008

Big plans for Saturday ..Then ! the bell tolls ???

Picture of my weekend plan ...just need a red hatPhone rings, very early Sat am .. this does not sound good ..
It's the sound of: deification intersecting the rotary oscillator .. now its back to the "Salt Mines"

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Details on Arbor Pu'er tea

Upfront- disclaimer, copied verbatim from printed text.
An interesting read, but requires an attentive mind. (with an interest in Pu'er)

Original Chinese text and link included (fortunately a cut and paste)

Analysis on the Quality & Characteristics of Arbor Pu’er Tea.
Cao Fanrong, department of Tea Sciences of South China Agriculture University.

Currently we often see “arbor” and “hundred year-old arbor” Pu-er Tea on the market, but what is arbor Pu-er Tea? What is its advantage of its qualitative characteristics? Aiming at these issues, we hereby make a brief analysis in the following.
According to the branch habit of tea trees we usually divide them into three types, namely arbor, semi-arbor (subarbor) and shrub.
The arbor te tree is usually high plant with straight posture, monopodial branches, clear trunk, main and side branches, as well as long distance from branch to the ground: The big wild tea trees discovered in Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan are usually over 10m in height with the diameter of the main trunk wich can be closed up by two people.
In recent decades, may ancient big wild tea trees were continuously discovered in southwest China. In 1961, a big wild tea tree with a height of 32.12m and a tree round of 2.9m in the dense forests on Dahei Mountain in Yunnan Province (at 1,500m above sea level), which exists individually and ages at around 1,700 years old. In 1996, a wild tea tree with a height of 25.5m, bottom diameter of 1.20m and an age of around 2,700 years was discovered in virgin forests of Qianjiazhai, Jiujia Village, Zhenyuan County, Simao Region, Tunnan Province, which is the oldest wild tee tree in the world. Also there are the thousand-year-old wild tea tree in Lancan County, Yunnan Province, the two wild tea trees on Kunlu Mountain and Banshan Mountain in Pu-er County, wild tea trees with diameters above 30cm dotted everywhere in forests, more than 10 tea trees with diameters above 1m in Yunnan, and some wild tea tree groups in certain areas.
According to the incomplete statistics, wild tea tree have been found in 198 places across 10 provinces. In the world, China is the country where wild trees were first found, whose tree bodies are the biggest, quantity is the largest, distribution is the widest.
According to the evolutive rules of tea trees, the arbor tee tree with high crown belongs to original type. Subarbor tea tree has medium plant with clear main caulis and short distance from branch to the ground: shrub tea tree has short plant without no clear main trunk and with branches from the position near to the ground and from the root.
According to the evolutive law of the trees, shrub tea trees with small crowns belong to relatively evolved type. Therefore, in northern tea production area, most tea trees belong to subarbor and shrub types, which are most cultivated at present.
Poly-phenol substances are closely related to the color, taste and scent of tea, its strong stimulation and convergence play a decisive role to the thickness and intensity of the tea taste, amino acid is the main substance ensbling refreshing and smooth taste of tea; Sugar is the important substance enabling the sweet taste of tea: Theine tastes bitter and water soluble pectin is of viscosity.
The key process creating the unique qualitative characteristics of Pu’er tea is pile-fermentation, which substantially fulfills a series of reactions, in the actions of enzyme, heat and humidity, namely oxidation and contraction of tea polyphenol, decomposition and degradation of protein and amino acid, decomposition of carbonhydrate, as well as aggregation and contraction of all productions, then generate more complicated biochemical reaction process of compounds benefical to the tea quality, stimulating the transformation of olive, fresh, scented and strong-tasted dried green tea into brown, scented and mellow Pu’er tea.
However, in the process of pile-fermentation, the oxidation of polyphenol, decomposition and degradation of protein and amino acid are profound, polyphenol forms secondary substances as thearubigins, thearubigins and some theaflavins after ageing and oxidation, which are substances creating mellow taste, but ploythenol is lost by large, which reduces its thickness and fragrance.
Therefore, the more the polythenol in the dried green tea before ageing and oxidation, the more mellow taste and dense scent the Pu’er tea maintains, the better the quality. Otherwise, the Pu’er tea may be of light taste, less scent and inferior quality for the decrease of inclusive substances.
Arbor tea trees usually have olive, big, smooth and shining leaves with gradually extended leaf apexes, the palisade tissues of leave flesh consists of one layer of cells. Therefore arbor tea trees often have delicate treetops and strong trunks with long nodes, big buds and abundant substances, as well as more polythenol key to the intensity of the tea taste, higher content of theine, especially higher content of simple catecholase. Therefore, it has lower content of polythenol if being processed into dried green tea, and has lighter taste, less scent and inferior quality if being into Pu’er tea after ageing and oxidation.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Quality & Characteristics of Arbor Pu’er Tea

“The Journal of International Tea”, 2007 edition provides a tantalizing list of articles in both; Chinese and English: So it is worth getting a Hard copy. (I got this one from a friend)
NOT all the articles on the web site have the English version (frustrating)

Analysis on the Quality & Characteristics of Arbor Pu’er Tea.
By: Cao Fanrong, department of Tea Sciences of South China Agriculture University.
Other articles of note, printed in English
The Six Famous Pu’er Tea Mountains -- Yiwu
The Six Famous Pu’er Tea Mountains -- Nannuo
Web site Main page
“The Journal of International Tea”, 2007 Web site is in Chinese, so just hunt around. Unfortunately I could not find an English version of this fine article on-line.

Foreword (For Eword, as printed)
The price of Puerh Tea is hiking. From origin place Yunnan to distribution centre Guangdong unto rising markets Shanghai and Guangxi, the price of Puerh Tea is hiking successively, and there is no evidence to show a suspend. As for the reasons of price increasing, there are various opinions.

Some people believe that too many dealers assemble in Yunnan to buy while the output of raw material is limited, certainly causing its price going up in right ascension and so the price of Puerh Tea products. Some people hold that many Zhujiang Delta collectors purchase and regrate Puerh Tea in large amount for its specific character longer storage more fragrant. Meanwhile a few bankers are operating, which results in striking jump of Puerh Tea price different every day.
Other people think that in the last two years the local government and manufacturer of production have hammered out effective promotion projects with successive impression and popularity of Puerh Tea to publicity. So, a great number of consumers are attracted to buy and try, and the consuming group of Puerh Tea is extending rapidly.
On the point of view of economics, when supply is larger than demand, the price is going to fall; when demand is larger than supply, the price is going to rise. The reason for price rising of Puerh Tea is within this economic rule. However, there are more questions under the event. Now that the reason for price rising of Puerh Tea is due to the prompt increase of demand while product yield has not been promoted adequately, then why is there such a quick increase of demand? If this demand is actual and consuming, or just some other element effecting? We must recognize the real value of Puerh Tea before answering those questions.
Puerh Tea is widely regarded as a collecting article with collecting value and long-term increasing potential for its specific character longer storage more fragrant. However, a lot of people have neglected this prime value drinking, while focus too much attention on its characters as collection item. The original attribute of Puerh Tea is drinking, which is consumable. Even the collection value is based on its drinking value. The taste of Puerh Tea will be better after a period of storage; therefore its value is promoted than the initial period of production.Drinking is the only way to make its taste value come true.
Collection is an approach nothing more than Puerh Tea value promotion, never the way to realize the value.Consequently, the consumption options of Puerh Tea can be classified into two generally: first, collection, which is favored by consumers who have the economy power and investing foresight. They focus on its increasing potential of value for the exchange of profits. Second, consumption, which is the choice of more and more people joining to enjoy Puerh Tea for its widely accepted multi remedy functions.The quick direct consumption of Puerh Tea reflects its popularity on quality and taste while brings its drinking value into play instantly.
However, collection is a technique to improve its quality and can't completely reflect the really status of consumer market. Moreover, this technologic process faces not only the risk of collecting skills, but also the influence by macroeconomic environment. Therefore it is a game for the people with higher anti-risk ability.The price of Puerh Tea is hiking, result of common function of material and consumer markets.
The price rising interprets the return of its true value. Meanwhile, we cannot neglect some short-term operations, which lead to market fluctuate too much and impact the trust of consumers. Dealers of Puerh Tea should make a right decision in business.

国际茶讯 International Tea information
1. Japan has put Chinese Green Tea into key import check list on pesticide residues On April 5th, Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare made the decision and announced to reinforce import check on Chinese green tea and large peanuts exported to Japan from the very date. The check proportion of green tea has been increased to 50% while large peanuts to 100%. It is said by Japanese officials that the recent green tea exported to Japan from Shanghai has been checked out with triazophos over the limited amount of 0.05 in Interim Criteria; while in last three months for two time large peanuts exported to Japan from Shandong Province had been check out with BHC over the limited amount of 0.01 in General Criteria. Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare made the decision to put Chinese Green Tea and large peanuts into key import check list on pesticide residues. According to the statistics of Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, Japan imports from China annually green tea 1,232 deals of 9,488 tons, blended tea with ingredient of green tea 375 deals of 1,119 tons, and large peanuts 1,081 deals of 18,839 tons.

2. Sri Lanka Rank Number One in 2006 Tea Export The statistic data of International Tea Committee has shown that Sri Lanka ranks number one in 2006 tea export trade with quantity of 314,831 tons, increased 5.37% than last year, while green tea exported 3,437 tons which is 25.71% more than last year. Russia is the largest export tea market for Sri Lanka with quantity of 59,272 tons in 2006, increased 12.17%; UAE 44,127 tons, increased 17.41%; Syria 30,573 tons, increased 10.69%; Iran 27,880 tons, increased 12.01%; Turkey 13,344 tons, decreased 20.58%; Iraq 12,066 tons, increased 11.89%; Japan 10,899 tons ,increased 28.63%; Jordan 9,473 tons, decreased 21.33%; Ukraine 8,282 tons, increased 9.68%; and Tunis 7,992 tons, increased 35.48%. The above mentioned ten countries consumes 71.12% of 2006 Sri Lanka total tea export.

3. New Taste of Tea is challenging Russian Market Black tea is the traditional product consumed by Russian residents. Before the 90's of last century they knew there is only one kind of tea black tea. Nowadays black tea is still the preferred product by Russian and takes a market share of 86%. But the tea products structure in Russia market has been changing. They are trying other tea products while keeping the tradition of drinking black tea. According to the information collected by the Company, the market share of black tea in Russia had deducted 2.2%, while green tea has reached 8% and been keeping growing in distribution. Furthermore, consumers are attracted by various flavor tea (blended tea with flora flavor of rose, hawthorn, and chamomile). Recently such products, especially black tea with lemon flavor, have achieved a visible increase to market share of 5%. In the past flavor tea and fruit juice tea are sold in super cities generally. Now it is stepping to cities of state level. Any blended tea can be produced as liquefiable tea, which is drinkable hot or cold while keeping its own unique flavor. Currently there are few kinds and small quantity of liquefiable tea in Russian market though they are popular. Experts and tea products dealers are quite firm about the bright future of liquefiable tea.

List of web sites for this Magazine/Journal:

Sunday, March 02, 2008

YiXing Tea Shirt

Andrew "I'm a little teapot, hears my handle, hears my spout"The Ultimate tea shirt, a Robin masterpiece.

Sunday Lunch

Sunday lunch .. head over to: “Fat Mothers Fragrant Pizza” shop in Chang Ping .. start with a few flat toasted cakes and then beef noodles...
比薩餅 Bi Sa Bing or 薄烤餅 Bo Kao Bing, whatever works for you ..
Locally we use BoBing, for most Flat cooked cakes-pizza-tortillas etc.

The Sunday extravaganza: "Are the noodles ready yet ?".. "One min, only one min more"
Fresh hand made noodles in a great soup broth ... nothing better

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Saturday - Part III -- Special Order

After all this tea-isum .. time to eat.
We change our plans and abandon the ChaShan visit and head back to Dongguan city.
Long story .. short version:
There are 4 tea shops on the 2nd floor of our favorite DongCheng shopping center. One is Mrs Yangs (The BEST) of them tends to carry products of "Good / Taiwan" quality but the asking prices are extravagant to say the least. On items I tested their prices are double that of the same products in other local shops (one needs to know where to look) this shopping center sees a lot of foreigners (Hong Kongers -Taiwanese - Singaporeans - Westerners etc.)
In the "expensive shop" I see the Granite tea table I MUST have .. asking 3,600 RMB.. Too much .. Beautiful .. but too much .. Hell the Scottish Parliament would pull my passport if I knowingly paid twice the price .. so hence the "PLAN"
The black granite table with dark red supports ...
Exquisite carving detail ..
A lustful look through the window .. just like an 8 year old with his pocket money
Now the cunning plan "Me Lord" .. Armed with pictures I walk the twenty seven steps to consult with Mrs Yang .. She thinks she can get me the same table from her source .. we estimate the cost added 200-300 RMB profit (Depending on actual cost) now I'll wait and see if she can get one ...
Yes .. I bought tea .. but more on that later ...

Saturday - Part B (ii) -- Drinking Tea

Still in the tea trading center of WanJiang town, we visit the Yang family wholesale store.
This is the same Yang family that I visit most weekends with the retail shop in DongCheng district of Dongguan City. (more on this later)
Getting ready to try some unique Pu-erh ..
Our tea master: Mrs Yang's younger sister ...
We try two teas, both 2001 Wild leaves harvested by hand, spread to dry naturally and that's it, no more processing .. Yes, its Pu-erh. Not pressed into a mould. Just left to age a few years.

A dramatic difference in these two teas, produced by two factories ..

The extreme differences in these two teas only serves to underscore that One MUST taste and try before you buy .... I purchased 500 grms of the darker coloured tea for 500 RMB. The lighter tea has a similarity to young uncooked pressed tea. Light citrus smell and taste. The "Chinese medicine" taste ..this one is pleasant but not my favorite. The darker tea has the wood/earth smell and taste we see in most Pu-erhs .. a very-very pleasant mix of smells-flavours-after taste.
The view looking out of the store. A nice clean side street off the main drag.

Saturday - Part B, WanJiang town

String still tight ? OK more being uploaded ...
Second town on the Saturday trip: WanJiang:
I just want to visit “my” teapot shop check out High End pots and prices.

Also to check out tables and trays:
茶盤, ChaPan (tea tray)
茶機器, ChaJiQi (tea machine, term used for the tray/table for KungFu Cha)

Local common term is: "ChaJi"….
Over the bridge, left at the billboard ...
Table after table, sizes and prices to meet your every need.

The table in the corner is a little over 12' in length ...
You can literally trip over the plethora of trays on offer

Now the High End teapots: Prices in this case: start at 10,000 RMB .. that's real money in any language.
These are more for the knowledgeable and serious collector, more for show than every day use.
This "abstract-modern" set has to be seen and handled to appreciate the workmanship, simply magnificent. Offered at 15,000 RMB. Pot and 5 cups plus some tray curiosities

Saturday - Part One, DaoJiao town

Hold on to your Tin Can, keep the string tight, I'll upload this; Saturday tea extravaganza.
Definition of Wholesale, in context:
These shops sell to local tea retail shops, but will gladly sell to walk in customers.
Local geography:
WanJiang town, ChaShan town & DaoJiao town, are only about 30min drive from each other.
A few months back (9th. Sep 07) I visited, WanJiang town, with its over 400 tea wholesalers, and on 1st of Apr. 07, I first visited ChaShan town, with about 150 wholesale / retail shops.

So today we set off to visit all three of these places:
First up: DaJiao town:

The Ming Xuan Hotel, provides a great visual landmark....Next to the hotel: “Southern Central Tea Trading Center”
is about to open, giving us approx 200 tea wholesalers, specializing in Pu-Erh trading.A new custom built center, the grand scale is a tribute to rising Pu-erh trading values.
This is the first new tea trading center I've seen .. planned access for commercial lorries.

Ground floor is main commercial sales, 2nd and 3rd floors support expanded sales / offices. Unique in this new development is that living space is separate and behind the commercial buildings.

A few have web sites: and
The first store being fitted out.. lets see how long before it opens.
Typical shop fitters at work....Organized chaos .. but it works.
 Check out the video 360 degree sweep of the complex: