Monday, December 29, 2008

"Wing Hop Fung" --- "Together Forever Prosper"

Wing Hop Fung: "Together Forever Prosper,"
In Southern California .. we are lucky to have a good sources of "Mainland China" products available, at very reasonable prices. One source is: Wing Hop Fung, with two stores near downtown LA ..
Also On-Line at:
On Sunday Robbie and I visited the store in Monterey Park. This location is just like being in Dongguan (except for the cars in the parking lot) A highly ethnic Chinese population, awash in great stores and restaurants ..

Some of the Yi Xing pots on offer:

They also have a comprehensive selection of "quality" teas .. we left with about $80.00 worth of booty.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tea - A World-Wide Commodity Business

History is awash with stories were Tea is at the epicenter of commerce, vast profits have motivated countries and armies to fight over it .. .. this story from the London Times speaks volumes as history unfolds ...

Indian tea company Sapat eyes troubled Whittard

From Times Online December 23, 2008

Rhys Blakely in Mumbai, Ian King, Marcus Leroux and Helen Power:

Sapat, the family-owned Indian tea company, is eyeing Whittard of Chelsea, the upmarket British retailer that is on the brink of entering administration.

Nikhil Joshi, the owner of Sapat, said today that he was following the situation at Whittard closely. "We're waiting for some clarity to assess our next move," he told The Times. "We are in a position to make an acquisition. We have looked at this brand in the past. For us, an entry into the UK would make sense."

However, Mr Joshi stressed that a bid was by no means certain. Last night, Whittard, which is backed by Landsbanki, the collapsed Icelandic bank, called in Ernst & Young as standby administrator after Landsbanki cut its funding lines, it is understood.

It is thought that Sapat, which is expected to make a turnover of more than £100 million this year, has at least £20 million in cash on its books to spend on acquisitions.

It was founded 110 years ago by Mr Joshi's grandfather and is one of India's largest growers and blenders of tea, but it has no brand recognition outside of its home market. Earlier this year, it made an unsuccessful £24 million bid to buy Clipper, the Dorset-based company that specialises in organic and Fairtrade brews.

Mr Joshi also mentioned Taylors of Harrogate as a possible target. Sapat's advisors in Mumbai include KPMG. Mr Joshi said that Whittard, founded in 1886, had been neglected for decades, a situation that he said continued after Baugur bought the chain in 2005 for £20.5 million. "The company has been plagued with problems," he said. "The core problem: it's a place you might go to buy your mum a present, but don't want to visit for yourself." He added: "Our business is not in a downturn. We're very much in a position to make acquisitions."

Whittard, which has 500 employees, is likely to trade through the holiday period but Ernst & Young is in parallel talks with a number of bidders who are considering buying some of its 130 stores.

It is believed that Landsbanki, which the Icelandic Government nationalised in October, decided to stop lending to Whittard after a team from KPMG appointed to sell the business last month failed to find a buyer.

Whittard faces a rent bill on Christmas Day and it is believed that lenders are concerned that landlords will send bailiffs to seize stock. The chain’s predicament raises the threat of a wave of bankruptcies at retailers backed by Landsbanki if the bank’s creditor committee, which is advised by Deloitte, has decided to get tough with the chains that it backs.

It is believed that Landsbanki could be going through the process of deciding which retailers to support and which to allow to go under as Britain’s retail woes continue.

In recent years, Indian companies have been especially active in the UK, one of the world's most lucrative markets for black tea.

Tata bought Tetley in 2000 for £271 million, India's largest overseas acquisition.

Earlier this year Tata made another tilt at the UK market when it bid £30 million for Clipper. It was outbid by Fleming Family and Partners.

Three years ago, Apeejay Surrendra group acquired Typhoo for £80 million.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pre-Christmas Party (with Video)

With hectic year-end commitments and demanding travel plans ..we snuck in a "Pre-Christmas Party" last Sunday .. my bad in not posting pictures earlier .

a little chilly outside ....

Sunset that evening ......

video

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Knitting in Hawaii

It's not just: Paradise, Beaches -Sun - Surf - a little work gets done.
Heather is off to a Craft Fair in Hanalie, on the North Shore of Kauai. Proof that there is a hereditary; "k" Gene, passed from her Scottish Grannie.
Baby Booties ..
Designer Hats:...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Home sweet home

Nice to be home. Early sunsets in So. Cal can often produce our best vistas.
Especially sweet when its from your own backyard and not distant lands.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Scottish Christmas Card

Long time family friends Johnny & Anne just sent this great picture .. Looking out from the Ardrossan shore, over the Firth of Forth, on the horizon; Snow covered peaks of Arran Island. "Hi Guys, Received your Christmas card today along with your letter and photo. They have grown up that much you will have to tell me from L to R who is who. I like Johns white wig, did he get it made in China ? We were up in Aberdeen last week-end to see Adelle, she had just come back from her honeymoon in the Maldives. I think married life agrees with her.I have attached a photo taken from Ardrossan harbour the other day, ask John if he recognises it. Give our regards to the family and we hope you have a good Christmas."
Love Anne & Johnny

Monday, December 08, 2008

Tea exports from India rise 15% in first quarter

Story from; Taipei Times. BLOOMBERG: Tuesday, Dec 09, 2008, Page 11.

Tea exports from India, the world’s largest producer, rose 15 percent in the first 10 months of the year after production rose and drought reduced output in Kenya, the world’s biggest exporter.

Overseas sales climbed to 156.5 million kilograms between January and October from 141.9 million kilograms a year earlier, said the Indian Tea Association, an organization of tea producers and exporters. Production rose 4 percent to 832.6 million kilograms year on year, the association said.

India’s exports may rise 28 percent this year to 200 million kilograms from a year ago because of reduced shipments from Kenya, Tea Board chairman Basudeb Banerjee said in June. Production may rise 1.6 percent to 960 million kilograms on good monsoon rains. http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/archives/2008/12/09/2003430689

Cold at the Old Mill

As Heather tuff's out winter in Hawaii .. Robbie SCUBA diving around Southern California's Channel Islands .. looks like I drew the short straw ... Minus 5 degrees this morning with a cutting wind. Don't let the clear Sky's and bright sun fool you .. Picturesque yes but COLD.
Despite the fast flow over the weir, ice forms from the spry on trapped branches and boulders.

One from the Warm Side - Thailand

My friend Rick just sent a note ... before I opine on the how cold it is here .. I'll share some of Rick's news from Thailand...

.... "Even though it is winter here in Thailand I’m still wearing T-shirts and shorts.
But many Thais are wondering around in coats, sweaters, and hats.
Actually here in Chiang Mai winter time is pleasant unlike other areas of Thailand where it is either hot or hotter.
The nice part about winter time is that I don’t need the fan or AC to get to sleep at night…haha

The wife and daughter are doing well, thanks for asking. We will travel to our place in Surin providence the last few weeks in this month.
The company here is shutting down for the end of the year and we’ll go back to check in on our store/apartment as well as visiting with the wife’s family and relatives.
The only dreaded thing for me is that it’s almost a 1000 kilometer drive (one way). No flights in that direction and we could take a bus but it’d take twice as long so I will just drive it.
I feel more comfortable driving now that I obtained a Thai drivers license.
I had to take both the written test and driving test. Actually I had to take the written test twice as I flunked it the first time. Little did I know there would be questions about tanks on the streets… (Chit you not).

Sunday, December 07, 2008

New England - Light Snow

A bleak Sunday .. a dusting of snow adds interest to the landscape. Small islands of ice form on ponds around the area.
A perfect morning for comfort tea .....

Thursday, December 04, 2008

H2O Plus model #259 -- More stuff

When travelling you always need "Stuff", you forgot to bring etc. So a new purchase was immanent.
I'm a big fan of Glass kettles, and have a few, (at home) .. so yesterday I picked up one I can recommend ....

The Capresso, H2O Plus.
http://capresso.com/water-kettle-frother-h20-plus.shtml Easy to judge the "Right" amount of boil activity required. .... a good product .. well made and works like a charm.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Recommendations -- Tea Sources

If you are looking to buy teas etc, a couple of on-line sources that friends have recommended to me:
One US-Chicago since 1994. http://todd-holland.com/, and one UK-Newcastle since 1907. http://www.ringtons.co.uk/

Images from the respective sites:

Todd & Holland:

Ringtons:

ICE and Tea .. A Lovely Cuppa

NOT Iced-Tea .. God forbid.
For Family & friends in: California and Hawaii (and Friends in Thailand)

Ice on the windscreen .. $%#@!!! I had forgot how painful mornings can be .. but at least the sun was bright and the morning was clear ...


The lovely cuppa came after I arrived at my office ...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium

"If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium" .. a 1969 movie. My Belgium is Boston. Yes back in the Boston area for a couple of weeks ... Departing on the Red-Eye from LAX, I arrived to a picture perfect morning (6:45am) By 8:30am I arrived in Billerica .. 45 °F / 7 °C clear skies and bright sun.
Outside our offices, a few evergreens add some much needed colour .
All set and serving; Taiwan Oolong .. one needs some kick when on the road.At these latitudes, (Lat/Lon: 42.7° N 71.3° W) sun sets at 4:12pm .. so a spin at lunch time shows winters onset has convinced the deciduous trees to drop their leafy canopy.