Tea subscriptions (A-M) – Mother’s Day Tea Gift Solution

Mother’s Day is just a few days away and it is reasonable to assume that a fair number of people have not yet gotten around to figuring out the perfect gift. Instead of running to stores or getting a last minute something that she might not need, check out these “tea of the month” clubs and tea subscription programs that might offer a special gift that she will enjoy long after Sunday.

Tea of the Month Clubs – A-M

Adagio Tea – Tea of the Month Club
Join for the 6 month or 12 month option. Select your favorite tea type: flavored, decaf, herbal, black or green/oolong. Adagio will send two teas every other month. You can see the list of teas in the lineup here. The 6 month club costs $39-49. The 12 month club is $74-$94.

Art of Tea – Tea of the Month Club
Subscribers can choose a monthly option of $18/month, a 6 month subscription of $16.20/month, or a 12 month subscription of $12/month. Choices include caffeine-free, iced tea, premium single origin, pyramid teabags, signature tea and wellness tea.

Imperial Tea Court – Tea Club
The Four Season Club offers a tea selection every three months ($121). There is also a 6 month membership (3 shipments over the 6 month period for $176) and a 12 month (monthly delivery for $291). The tea types included are outlined on their page.

The Devotea USA – Tea of the Month Club
Each month subscribers receive a packaged assortment of four teas: The Devotea blends, single estate teas and some “club only” offerings. The club is a 12 month club with three different tiers available. “Taster’s Delight” provides an assortment of four teas that equal approximately 30 cups for $13.99/month. “Drinker’s Essentials” yields 100 cups for $27.99/month. “Addict’s Nirvana,” $40.99/month, yields 200 cups. Three-month gift subscriptions are available for $48. The May assortment included Champagne & Berries (a green tea blend from Teas Etc.), Mokabari East Assam (Lochan Teas), White Teas Concoction Liquorice (Devotea blend), and Spearmint Tisane (Devotea USA). Click here to see the March and April offerings.

Jing Tea – Tea of the Month
Each month you receive a shipment of two 50gram bags of tea. You can choose three month (£75 for U.S.), 6 month (£135) and 12 month (£260). May was a very jasmine month with jasmine pearls and jasmine silver needle. June will bring Iron Buddha and Yellow Gold.

Republic of Tea – Tea of the Month
The program offers four different monthly options ($90-$99 for 6 months) focused on their teabag selections: Citizens’ Favorites, green, caffeine-free/decaf, and wellness. There is also a loose tea option ($120 for 6 months). Six and twelve month options are available.

Tealet – Global Tea Tasters
Tealet is a company focused on linking customers directly to farmers. In this program you’ll receive four teas every two months (60 grams each shipment). An annual subscription of six shipments is $215.70. A six month subscription is $128.85 for 3 shipments. Along with the tea will come information about the growers as well as information to help you better understand tea.

Teance – Tea Subscriptions
Teance has two different tea subscription programs available. The 3 month or 6 month Tea Subscription ($73.95/$144) and the 3 month or 6 month Connoisseur Subscription ($145/$260). The Connoisseur Subscription offers teas they do not usually sell online.

Teavana – Tea of the Month Club

Teavana offers a 12 month subscription program for $250. Recipients receive two 2-oz. tins of tea each month. The idea is that the teas can be consumed individually or blended together for a unique taste. The 6 month club is $130. The May offerings were a Monkey Picked Oolong and a Citrus Lavender Sage. The tea list can be found by clicking the link in the Description section of the 12 month program.

 

When an American Tries to Teach the British about Tea

When an American Tries to Teach the British about Tea

I think it’s safe to say that the British have some substantial experience with tea. This long history has resulted in significant consternation now that a guide on “proper tea preparation” has been released and it was written by an American.

20150807_teaguide“How To Make Tea: The Science Behind The Leaf” was developed by Seattle’s Brian Keating and his co-author Kim Long of Denver. The publisher, Ivy Press, which is based in Britain, describes it as “‘a fascinating and invaluable handbook for anyone who doesn’t want to settle for less than the perfect brew.”

The book relies on the science and chemistry of tea to give advice for the best experience. Keating believes North America is on the verge of a massive rise in interest in tea and tea culture and that the British will be eclipsed in this area. You could almost hear the dismissive sighs from across the ocean.

The fury comes on the heels of a study from earlier this year that claimed that 80% of British tea drinkers steep their brew for less than two minutes, yielding a less than optimal cuppa.

SOURCE: The Daily Mail, Metro UK, and The Sunday Times

The Great Tea Train

The Great Tea Train

Tea tourists may soon have another amazing excursion to quell their wanderlust.

Through a new agreement between Russian President Vladimir Putin, President of China Xi Jinping and President of Mongloia Tsakhiagiyn Elbegdorzh, the “Great Tea Train” should be ready to operate by next year.

©Frankljunior

©Frankljunior

The train will travel 3,000 kilometers through portions of what was historically a critical tea trade route, the Great Tea Road. The Eurasian Star train will set off from Beijing and travel across Mongolia into Siberia, ending in Irkutsk. There will be multiple stops at cities along the route for sightseeing including Chita, Ulan and Ude.

Some who have interest in this historical area have opted to ride on the Trans-Siberian train which runs from Beijing through Mongolia all the way to St. Petersburg, a journey of 8,000 miles. The Eurasian Star, however, will have a particular focus, however, on sites important to the tea trade.

The deal was announced at the most recent BRICS Summit in Ufa, Russia, a gathering of representatives from Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa. The leaders of Russia, China and Mongolia have spent the past year discussing ways that their countries can more closely cooperate in politics, the economy, science and cross-border initiatives.

Source: Siberian Times and BRICS report

Book Review: Modern Tea by Lisa Boalt Richardson

Book Review: Modern Tea by Lisa Boalt Richardson

Over the past ten years some new and groundbreaking tea books have hit the market and become instant industry classics. “The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide” by Mary Lou Heiss and Robert Heiss was released and took its place as a veritable textbook for tea enthusiasts. It was nominated for a James Beard Book Award and an IACP Cookbook Award and also won Best Tea Book in the USA from Gourmand Awards and a bronze for Best Tea Book in the World in 2008. The expanded version of “A Social History of Tea” by Jane Pettigrew and Bruce Richardson was considered a must-have before it even hit the shelves. Cynthia Gold’s “Culinary Tea” pushed other books aside on cookbook stands. The heavily researched “Tea: History, Terroirs, Varietals” by Kevin Gascoyne presented the science that many students of tea have longed for. I do not hesitate to say that Lisa Boalt Richardson’s newest book, “Modern Tea,” belongs in this impressive grouping.

LisaRichardson_headshot2013Richardson is not new to tea writing, having won Best Tea Book USA in 2009 for “Tea with a Twist.” She is an educator and consultant and has been featured in publications including The New York Times, Real Simple and Tea Time Magazine. She has also previously published “The World in Your Teacup: Celebrating Tea and Traditions Near and Far.”

“Modern Tea” is not a particularly lengthy book, at 164 pages, but it is packed with engaging stories, beautiful images and valuable information. “Tea is a beverage,” it begins, “…a commodity, a ceremony, an afternoon tradition, a drink of peace, a pick-me-up, a path to meditation, and much more.” As I read through the text it occurred to me that it is the perfect book both for those who are already tea enthusiasts, but also those who have newly discovered their passion and want a comprehensive primer for their explorations.

Richardson offers a mix of well-researched history interspersed with personal stories that give warmth and color and make the world of tea feel close at hand. The tales will definitely inspire the armchair traveler in many readers. While the general topics covered in the book have been written about elsewhere, this book makes it seem brand new, with Richardson’s personality bursting off the page.

ModernTeaCoverJPGThe book begins with thorough explanations of the tea types but the author keeps it fresh and new with her own memories and lessons learned from visits to tea plantations and growing regions. There are detailed sections on buying and storing tea, along with both eastern and western steeping style descriptions. The step-by-step nature of these pages provide actionable items for readers and made me think again about some of my own practices. The lovely descriptions of various tea ceremonies including Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, English and Moroccan, not only bring us into those worlds, but also give us the knowledge we need to recreate versions of those ceremonies at home.

Richardson never hesitates to delve into the science of tea, looking at olfactory experiences from this vantage point, along with data around antioxidants and caffeine. Staying close to her roots she also shares her thoughts on pairing tea with other foods, cooking with tea and tea cocktails, as well as ways to use tea in body care products.

I do feel the need to disclose that through my years in the American tea world, Richardson has become a friend. But she has also been a valuable teacher as I pursued my Level 1 and 2 certifications with the Specialty Tea Institute. Her knowledge was thorough and she is an approachable and enthusiastic educator. I am delighted to say that these qualities come through clearly on the page. I strongly recommend that you give “Modern Tea” a read and that you share it with others who are beginning their journey in tea.

 

 

Is that an ant in my tea?

Image property of Sydney Living Museum and Kettle Town

Image property of Sydney Living Museum and Kettle Town

Australia’s Kettle Town tea company made it’s debut last December as a small specialty tea company that developed some unique blends for pairing with dessert. It is unlikely that anyone would have predicted that seven months later they would be getting international attention for introducing a red ant tea.

Kettle Town was founded by Vincent Maneno and Lily Wang. Maneno became enamored with tea when he and his brother launched into a challenge to abstain from alcohol for one year. Wang, who loves to bake, instantly fell in love with the flavors and forms of tea and the ways that they could pair with sweet treats.

They began with a small number of blends. One combined blueberry and almond with black tea and another used vanilla, black tea and peppermint. Then Maneno met Skye Blackburn of The Edible Bug. Blackburn, who has degrees in entomology and food science, is passionate about the ways that insects could be farmed as protein Strawberry Ant Hillsreplacements for traditional meats. Her online shop boasts a range of frozen and roasted bugs for snacking including silkworms, crickets and scorpions. Blackburn asked Maneno and Wang to take a chance on some ants.

She shipped them a vial of dehydrated ants and when Maneno and wang put them in water they were struck by the tart, citrusy flavor that emerged. The result was a blend called Strawberry Ant Hills. It combines black tea with the dehydrated ants, raspberry leaves and some flavoring. Kettle Town describes the tea as having flavors of “sweet strawberry with a smokey citrus tang.”

 

 

Zhena: Tea Entrepreneur, Author and Soon-to-Be TV Star?

Inspiration comes to us in many ways. Some of us read a line that sets our minds on fire. Others meet someone special who serves as a mentor or offers encouragement or important tools. And sometimes, as was the case of Zhena Muzyka, there was no small amount of desperation in the decision to launch a business.

Zhena Muzyka was twenty-four years old when she found herself in a frightening situation. She was already struggling to get by, behind in her bills and begging to keep her gas line open even though she was months behind in her payments. She was nine months pregnant with no job prospects ahead and her baby’s father was not in the picture. Her parents weren’t able to help and then, her baby son was born with severe medical problems. The situation was beyond bleak.

She took a risk, creating a business plan to open a tea shop near her Ojai, California home. She pitched it to someone looking to sell his cafe business and he was swept away by her passion and business savvy. He hired her as a consultant to transform his cafe. This led to opening her own tea cart and, eventually, creating Zhena’s Gypsy Teas.

Zhena coverMuzyka is now releasing her first book about her life and her business, “Life by the Cup: Ingredients for a Purpose-Filled Life of Bottomless Happiness and Limitless Success.” The book’s chapters are designed to be short enough to consume with a cup of tea. She tells stories of her life as a mom and a business owner. She intersperses these with meditations and exercises to encourage readers to think about their own lives and aspirations. This book is part of a three-part deal with Simon & Schuster. In addition, she has signed a development deal with Mark Wahlberg and Leverage Management to transform the book into a movie or television series. The book was released June 17.

Tea Biz had the chance to talk with Zhena about her new book. Here are some excerpts from our interview.

Tea Biz: Tell us about the structure of your book — with the short chapters and the exercises. What inspired the format?

Zhena: I didn’t want to just write a memoir. I wanted it to be instructive. I spend time helping other women in business and I’m focused on making sure my lessons help people. It shouldn’t just be me reiterating old stories. I was talking to my girlfriends and they said you should be able to drink a cup of tea while you read each chapter. I looked at my chapters and the word count was much higher. I really had to cut them down. It’s compassionate for a busy schedule.

Tea Biz: What was your inspiration for your tea work?

Zhena: I loved throwing events so when I had to make money out of nothing I came to the conclusion that tea was in two categories – English high tea and the Asian side of things. No one was doing it gypsy style.

Tea Biz: What is gypsy style?

Zhena: It has more of a bohemian flair. It is more mystic. In the Asian style, mindfulness, grace, relaxation, focus and clarity come first. It’s like a martial art. Gypsy style is more of a celebration, more colorful, more bohemian circus-like.

Tea Biz: In those early days you were facing a terrifying time with your son when some would have just wanted to give up. Where did you find the strength to try to start something new at that point?

Zhena: I’m not different from any other mother that is faced with something frightening. My options were very limited. My parents were not in a healthy position physically or financially. Sage’s dad was not in the picture. I didn’t have a Plan B and I didn’t have a rich aunt. I really always thought that would happen. Maybe I watched too much Disney as a kid growing up. I thought that something would happen and I’d be saved.

Then I realized that there is no saving. We have to do the work ourselves. The more I got into the work, the more I had the chance to actually fulfill my own potential. That was so much fun for me. I hadn’t found anything other than writing that really made me feel that way. Blending teas, making teas, selling teas, becoming a fair trade and organic activist were what I needed to do. I believe we’re put on earth to fulfill our potential. I found strength through seeing it work because I had no other options.

What kept me going was realizing that no one could save me. This was more fun in the long run.

Tea Biz: You went and pitched a business plan to take over a cafe with no money in your pocket. Was that one of the scarier things you’ve done in your career?

Zhena: I didn’t have the money, but I was starving for an opportunity. I almost turned around but there was a voice in my head that told me to just show up. I still get that to this day, that loud voice. It happened a few months ago. I was tired and didn’t want to go to a conference. I wanted to hang out with my kids. I just kept hearing this voice telling me to show up and it was life changing. I met my designer who designed ZHENA TV and a friend who is a Hay House author. The scarier something is and the more resistance I feel, that is when good things happen.

I had nothing to lose. Writing the business plan made my confidence grow. If you don’t know how to do something, it’s in the learning how to do it that you gain confidence and mastery. When I showed up with no money and was hired as a consultant it was the scariest but I was then empowered to take control of my life.

Tea Biz: You left the consultant job eventually to start a tea cart. That was a bold move.

Zhena: The tea cart was me jumping in with both feet. Definitely ready, shoot, aim. I decided that I had to do my own thing and I didn’t want to do it for someone else anymore.

Tea Biz: You had the chance to visit Sri Lanka, to see where tea is grown. What was most striking about that experience?

Zhena: I met the queen of the gypsies and a mentor at the time told me I should study meditation. He told me I was a blender without a top. Visiting Sri Lanka I saw true suffering which really put what I thought was suffering in perspective. When things were at the hardest for me, Sage and I at least had a social safety net that caught us. We could get the operation and save his life. They don’t have that. Even in poverty I was actually one of the most fortunate people in the world. It was eye opening and I was energized to do something.

Tea Biz: This is the first of three books. Tell me about your next books.

Zhena: The next book, Business by the Cup, is a spiritual business book for women, focusing on exceptions, not rules. They are the lessons I learned like working for the sake of work, not for outcome. It is a handbook for a woman who wants to grow a business and make a mark in the world. The third book, Love by the Cup, is about my Ukranian grandparents. When Sage was born I had a draft of a book called “A Modern Gypsy’s Guide to Life.” My grandfather was a freedom fighter, wanting his freedom and an independent country. I spent forty hours interviewing my grandfather about stories of World War II and surviving five years in a concentration camp. My grandmother kept it a secret that she was a gypsy. Gypsies are still treated like third class citizens and no one is telling the actual stories and beauty of gypsy culture.

Tea Biz: And you also secured a development deal for TV?

Zhena: The guys who created Boardwalk Empire, Entourage, In Treatment, etc., Mark Wahlberg and Leverage Management optioned it for a movie or television series. That was completely unexpected. I didn’t even know what movie rights were. I’m learning this industry as fast as I can!

 

World Cup 2014 – Tea Style

In our house, my passion for tea may only be rivaled by my husband’s passion for soccer. It is unavoidable then that there would be a great deal of talk about the opening of this year’s World Cup. Brackets have been passed around the house and kids and adults alike are making their picks.

It won’t take long snooping online to find many suggestions about how to make your game predictions. You can complete brackets based on population, favorite uniform colors, or careful analysis of team rosters. Maybe tea lovers need their own approach.

Tea Biz would like to present a 2014 World Cup bracket, completed tea style. For each country we’ve highlighted a type of tea or flavor profile or cuisine that is popular in each country. Argentina was a given with Yerba Mate as was a spicy chocolate profile for Mexico. In some cases we went with a traditional choice like Greek Mountain tea for Greece and matcha for Japan. For Cameroon and Spain we considered popular foods and added a tea spin. In Croatia we highlighted the beautiful flavors of the produce in local markets and in the Netherlands we paired tea with the incomparable Dutch cheeses.

To play, in each group rank the countries 1-4 and then complete the rest of your brackets. Make your tea picks and let us know who you think the World Cup Champion will be. We’ll provide an update before the round of 16 and maybe add another tea twist.

World Cup 2014 Tea Style

 

Tea Cozy Competition Sweeps Australia

Rainbow Delight by Heather Graham - Courtesy ABC Gippsland

Rainbow Delight by Heather Graham  – Photo Courtesy ABC Gippsland

Participants took up knitting needles, chain mail and astroturf to create some of the most unusually tea cozies for this year’s Fish Creek Tea Cosy Festival in Australia. Featuring music, movies, music workshops, a makers’ fair, and afternoon teas, the ten day festival (May 16-25) is also hosting its second tea cozy competition.

Fish Creek, known locally as “Fishy,” is a township located in South Gippsland, Victoria, Australia. Victoria, where Melbourne is also located, is a state in southeastern Australia. According to the festival website, “The Tea Cosy (Festival) reflects the rural setting of Fish Creek, the

1066AD by Rhonda Mayo and Steampunk Tea Cosy by Andy Macpherson

1066AD by Rhonda Mayo and Steampunk Tea Cosy by Andy Macpherson

nurturing and welcoming nature of the town, the blending of traditional and new enterprises and the opportunity to reinvent an iconic symbol of everyday life.

The 165 entries came from all over Australia as well as from other countries across the globe. The judging categories included traditional, aquatic, “exbuberant whimsy,” and even “butch” which were tea cozies made by men or for use by men. Contestants could compete in the junior, open, or senior categories.

One unusual group of entries came from knitters in Tecoma who created cozies to protest the construction of a McDonald’s in their village.

Tecoma Knitters Protest Cosies - Courtesy ABC Gippsland

Tecoma Knitters Protest Cosies

Children’s book author and illustrator Alison Lester was the judge. The festival is sponsored by Madame Flavour teas, Regional Arts Victoria and the South Gippsland Shire Council.

Source: ABC Gippsland, Fish Creek Tea Cosy Festival

Need to Know (April 30, 2014)

What tea professionals need to know this week —

Award winning Maine tea house up for sale….Milo’s Tea reaches new markets…Teavana opens new location in Chicago…Book deal for Zhena’s Gypsy Teas founder….The press can’t get over the President’s introduction to green tea ice cream…Stash walks away from Sustainable Forest Initiative

 

Clipper MerchantMaine’s Clipper Merchant Tea House Up for Sale

Heather and Gary Labbe, owners of Limerick, Me.’s Clipper Merchant Tea House have announced that their shop and home are available for sale. This gothic home built in the 1830s has been beautifully restored and served as a tea room for the past eight years. The tea room can seat 40 in the four seating areas and there is a 3 bedroom living space above. The Clipper Merchant has gained a reputation for excellence, receiving a mention in Yankee Magazine’s Top Tea Rooms in New England (written by yours truly) as well as an Editor’s Pick nod in 2011 and a spot in Victorian Homes Magazine’s Top Ten Tea Rooms in the U.S.

Read more about Clipper Merchant on their website.

 

Milo’s Tea Spills Into New States

Milo’s Tea of Alabama is more than doubling the number of states where it is sold.

Milo’s bills itself as a ready-to-drink tea company that believes in using real tea leaves with no preservatives and additives. They sell sweet teas (and an unsweetened version) and lemonade in gallon containers, as well as 12 ounce and 20 ounce bottles. They began selling their bottled tea in 1989, although the recipe was one developed at the family’s hamburger shop in the 1940s.

The company had distributed to 18 states and will now add 20 more states to its reach.

Source: Birmingham Business Journal and AL.com

 

Teavana Continues to Open New Cafes – On to Chicago!

PrintWe can’t let New York have all the fun. This week Starbucks moved from the Big Apple to the Windy City to open its third Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar. With scones, soup and salads, Teavana is looking for folks to do more than grab a cuppa for the road. Starbucks is aiming to open hundreds more like this, trying to make tea drinking as common as a $4 cup of coffee.

Unlike the tea offerings at most Starbucks locations, the Teavana shops focus on premium teas, offering a broad range of flavored and unflavored options.

The mission to convert more people to tea drinking continues as Starbucks opens two more Teavana shops later this year — one in New York and one in Los Angeles.

Source: Chicago Tribune

 

Read All About It – Book Deal for Zhena’s Tea

Zhena - 2Zhena Muzyka of Zhena’s Gypsy Tea is branching out. Apparently founding and heading up a popular tea brand isn’t enough. Muzyka recently signed a three book deal with Simon & Schuster. The first book, Life By The Cup: Ingredients for a Purpose-Filled Life of Bottomless Happiness and Limitless Success, will be released on June 17. The book chronicles Muzyka’s life from her early days as a single mom with very little money to her first forays into selling tea from a tea cart to now, as founder and owner of a nationally-known tea brand.

Don’t have time to give it a read? You’ll have the chance to catch more Zhena on the small screen. Mark Wahlberg’s production company intends to create a television series inspired by the book.

 

Stash Turns Back on Sustainable Forestry Initiative

Stash Tea has recently announced that they will remove the Sustainable Forestry Initiative logo from their products, joining a growing number of companies that are stepping away from the label. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative was created and funded by the logging industry. Many claim that SFI practices continue the destruction of woodlands, spreads pollution and expands the usage of pesticides which impact soil and water sources.

Other companies that have publicly stated opposition to the SFI label include Shutterfly, AT&T, Energizer and Southwest Airline..

Read more about the SFI controversy in the Portland Tribune.

Source: Environmental Leader

 

President Dines on Green Tea Ice Cream

Here’s an idea for your next dinner party. During the president’s recent trip to Asia he was served a dessert specifically requested by Japanese Emperor Akihito — ice cream shaped like Mount Fuji. The bottom layer of the dessert? Green tea ice cream. Time to break out the ice cream maker.

 

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Austin Hodge’s Qingming Report 2014

Qing Ming 2014

By Austin Hodge, President of Seven Cups
Seven Cups is an importer of Chinese tea, located in Tucson, Arizona

Filed April 6, 2014. An abridged version appeared in World Tea News previously. Read our previous story about Qing Ming and its meaning from our April 7 Need to Know post.

I started writing this on the way up Xigui Mountain in Lincang Country to check out the condition of some ancient tea trees. We raced  along a one lane winding road for about 80 kilometers, starting in Lincang City, a thousand feet above the valley floor. Along the mountain roads there are hard working stone carvers making new facades for the ancestors of local tea growers, as well as plenty of colorful fake money to be burned so that they have some cash. There is plenty of incense also to celebrate Qing Ming, the tomb sweeping holiday, pivotal for both ancestor worship and tea. It was typical of my trip traveling through Lincang Country, visiting areas that are producing some of the most sought after puer. This puer is certainly some of the most expensive, ranging into the thousands of dollars per kilo.

My first question has been how’s the weather? How has it affected the tea? In this area of Yunnan the weather has not been problematic.  The old tea trees are producing excellently. The prices here have been doubling every year, and questions about a new bubble are met with exuberant denial even though the evidence is abundant that a crash is coming.

A few weeks ago I was in Hangzhou in Zhejiang, and then I traveled to Anhui and Fujian. The harvest had just begun in Zhejiang, coming a few days before I got the in Xinchang, guaranteeing a very robust pre-Qingming harvest. In all of those places I could not find any evidence that the hot, dry summer last year would have any effect on this years crop. There has never been any time in history, that I know of, where the was no pre-Qingming tea produced, so I can only see those dire predictions coming out of the Chinese press last year, as an attempt to imitate American cable news journalism. I was a little bit early for the harvest to begin in Huangshan but there was no indication that there would not be a great crop this year. The same was true in the Wuyishan area where twice I was caught in the rain searching for shelter while up in the mountains.

On our way to Xishuanbana in Southern Yunnan, just out side of Jingmai, we were caught in a violent thunderstorm while having dinner. According to one of the peasants that owned the place, the government had been seeding the clouds to create some badly needed rain. The ferocious storm tried to blow his little corrugated metal Chinese greasy spoon away while we ate. Just down the road we passed a massive metal billboard sign that had been blown off of a roof blocking most of the road. This last winter brought record low temperatures to the south of Yunnan; snow fell for the first time in some places, damaging some of the forests.

The day before Qing Ming, yesterday, I got a much more reliable report from an old friend in Youle, on top of one of the ‘Six Famous Mountains’ of Xishaunbana. Yang Guanqi is one of my favorite producers in the area  and my go-to guy when it comes to any question about Xishuanbana.  The rumor about the cloud seeding was probably not true, because the rain had been going on for days, and it rained while we were looking over his ancient tree garden in the afternoon. Still the drought that has been going on for years in Southern Yunnan will not be countered by a few days rain. It has drastically affected the old trees and overall production is way down and will be this year also. The trees will not be harmed, but their new growth will be small and has been decreasing every year. This year will be the no different. The younger bushes are going to produce more quality in contrast. Tea consumers should be very skeptical when buying any cakes being advertised as coming from old trees. The price of all puer will go up this year.