Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Early morning Sun, long shadows

Xmas morning, the sun was an early riser, a beautiful start to an enjoyable holiday.
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Two of the boys get silly before lunch: Cameron arrived just as we started to eat.
DSC00549c Andrew came by about 2:00 .. Heather in Hawaii joined via phone …

Friday, December 25, 2009

Old Friend .. recent find

Rummaging through kitchen cabinets in search of the tea travel buddy I brought home over a year ago …. for Robbie to take on the dive boats.

From the back corner this cup emerged.  A gift from a colleague at Printronix. In 1986, I had just returned from Singapore (the first of a 5 year assignment) .. Long story short, I was talking about my trip with one of our software engineers, next day she brought in this cup-with built in strainer. It has remained unused all this time. So Xmas day will be its debut, thinking of friends around this small world of ours.

喝茶 hē chá Drink Tea

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Days gone by, The British Raj

From the mid 1850’s to 1947 …  The time of the British Raj in India.  A great many words and expressions have found their way from Indian culture into the every day lexicon of modern Britain.  

What brought this about is one of the cups I have in my office:  Good old Camp Coffee,  A Truly unique product of Scotland. f6d2 

I’ve had this small mug for almost 40 yrs. DSC00535How time fly's when your having fun,  the sole survivor of a set of four.

Ho Ho Ho

ChristmasThx to Manjit for the e-card.

New Record

A bike built for Nine .. Note: this is a Bike TAXIimage001Every day its not unusual to see Scooters and Motor Bikes put to Herculean tasks.  Nine is a first for me, not the strangest but a definite eye popper.

A bicycle loaded with more than its share:… Dongguan City– Da Lang townDSC00810

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Early present

Andrew came over Saturday afternoon bearing gifts.  He and his girlfriend had a new spaniel puppy .. (sound asleep)DSC00528cI got an enlightening gift :   Yixing teapot, A hand-carved tree with four depictions of the Buddha.  One hopes  this will promote meditation and enlightenment. DSC00532cDSC00533cDSC00534c

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just Tea .. more tea

More presents for Robbie.  A banner year for Robbie in terms of: Diving, Computing Horsepower and Tea.
I’m guessing this batch of goodies from Da Xia will round out this year (in tea terms)  Kevin, my US-China mule, returned with multiple pounds of Jasmine (Robbie’s favorite)DSC00527c
And this note from; Da Xia, thanking Robin and I for sending her a gift.
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Tea and Sympathy

Xie Xie Ni Jeff returning from Taiwan .. with a gift of:  Ali Shan High Mountain Oolong Tea. DSC00514  Saturday we had a party with; Sean's fiancée, her family and long time time friends; Linda, Kerry and Katelyn Shimizu, and Robbie’s dive buddy Ruth. Twelve of us, good size group for a, very rainy day, get together. (See Facebook for pics)

So on Sunday morning I entered our tea room and saw the aftermath of; 4 hrs of tea and tall tales, I immediately  felt sympathy for our downstairs Maid, who had to clean this up.

Wait!!  its Sunday the maid’s day off  .. and I have to put things to right …DSC00517 DSC00519c Five pots, 4 Yixing and one glass pot, endless cups and fun times were had by all.  For the record, these are the main teas we drank throughout  the day:

花茶  Hua Chaflowering
Flower Tea

鐵觀音 tieguanyingold216Tie Guan Yin

普洱  Pu erhbrick

老烏龍茶oolong  Aged / Old Oolong

茉莉花茶jasminegreen  Muo Li Hua

Jasmine

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Friends in WuXi

My collogue Kevin made a quick trip back to WuXi this week.  Many thx for delivering a gift to Da Xia  .. looks like cold weather as moved in ….
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Da and her brother in the family tea shop
P1040594 Da Xia and Kevin, now we know why my nick name for her is: Xiao Da Xia.
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I have to share Kevin’s note to me: …
John,
        Here's some pictures of my visit.  She was very exited to get your gift.  She's really sweet. She wrote you a note I'll give you when I get back.

Kevin

Monday, November 16, 2009

This one for distant Friends and Family

Sunday, we milked the sun for all it was worth with a few friends.  Just a very pleasant day.
 Evi and Shara, on their way to the party:…. 
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Ben looks for the Tennis ball, as Ben (on all fours) walks off with it!DSC00489c
Friends and Family … Life is GoodDSC00493c DSC00498c
Shara inspects the bolt tightness, what a charmer. DSC00496c

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reading the Tea Leaves

The new batch of TGY;  Hand Picked, Hand Process, Hand Packed and Hand Delivered. Da Xia and her family are superb craftsmen and artisans of Ti Guan Yin. The father is an amazing person that will talk endlessly about the subtleties of his craft, I only wished my understanding of their dialect (a variant of Hokkien) would let me follow him directly without translation.  His passion needs no translation.PIC-0038Dry leaves  have a dramatic appearance, Rich Full Colour, uniform shape lacking deformity, Clean, no dust or cuttings.  The rolled leaves don’t have that tight compact shape typical of machine processing.  These are hand manipulated at every step of the processing.   The Dad will explain how he can manipulate aromas and flavors from various plantings by how he he kneads the leaves in the large drying woks.DSC00461cThe texture and handling of the dry tea is a pleasure, the subtle and complex aroma only add to the anticipation of what is to come.DSC00461caThe full leaves yield their captured essence in the pot, look at the large full leaves.DSC00484cDSC00483 These examples only underscore what is possible when time is taken and care is given to the picking and processing of leaves.DSC00485c

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Auspiciously designed to please and preserve

Personal observation over the years in China, I have seen genuine improvements in the retail packaging of tea.  China has a great history of exotic, elaborate and expensive packaging for gifts.  The recent trend in Moon Cakes ( yuèbing  月饼 ) given and received as gifts during the mid-autumn festival is a classic example.
 

The contents remain modest and the packaging, as beautiful as it is, does naught to preserve the contents,  rather they promote the “Giver” (in their mind) providing additional status as a wealthy person capable of such an extravagant gift.   I like this festival time in China and enjoy going to the various sales outlets (mostly hotels) that try to trump their neighbors in the presentation and packaging of Moon Cakes. There is no subtlety here; hotel – large KTV – drunk businessmen – buy expensive gifts ..
On to a development that, I feel, exemplifies the ability of presentation packaging to convey all the aspects of: beauty, extravagance and practicality. Inside the  matching carry bags are the presentation Boxes.
DSC00481cWhen emptied, in themselves they don’t yield to an after use as container for collectables or Knick-knacks.
DSC00482c They are purpose built, proudly announcing  the contents and house the same.  In the RED, a set of SIX (lucky number sounds like wealth)  small tins/caddies. containing NINE  (an auspicious number, sounds like longevity) small individual tea packages. The BLUE set has THREE  (lucky, sounds like Growth-Alive)  caddies with Nine packs each
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Inside each pack there lies another surprise:….
DSC00479 Inside each vacuum packed foil pouch the tea is housed in an inner clear bag.
DSC00476 All of this ties to a very harmonious gift that also serves to keep the treasured tea at its best.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Tiě guān yīn, as good as it can get

My colleague, Kevin just retuned from WuXi .. Last Wednesday he visited my friend Da Xia’s tea shop .. I came into my office Monday morning to find this cornucopia of   Tiě guān yīn chá 铁 观 音 茶
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The gem in this package is the accompanying note:
“This is the gift for the coming Christmas Day. Wish you enjoy it.  Da Xia”
DaXia Despite his many visits to China /WuXi this was Kevin’s first visit: in his words “To a real China tea house, a truly memorable experience, this was with genuine people, an experience of the true China”  So much so he forgot to take pictures!!  Earlier in the day one of the folks form our Wuxi office called the shop number I had given Kevin. The number was still good, but they have moved to a new location in WuXi city. Da Xia’s little brother met them outside and guided them to the shop.  Now I can't wait to see the new place and old friends.
After thanksgiving my friend Jeff will go to Taiwan and Wuxi .. he can be my mule to take an early present to Da Xia, making tea in Dongguan shop
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The tea we are talking about here is only the VERY best Fujian TGY, from Da’s family plantation.  I just had to open one of the small sampler packages sent.
DSC00461c Liquid nectar .. this I’m going to enjoy … 
DSC00462 The presentation packaging is in its self is a work of art … again thx to Kevin for bringing this back ... I seldom bring back the beautiful packaging,  just the tea. 
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