Mr. Bei is the tea master of this fair trade estate in Southern China. The way it works at this estate is that there is no central garden rather various lots dotted across campus so to speak. Each location is close to a small production facility or satellite where the teas are quickly dried to prevent oxidization. It is a cooperative effort with many of the villagers putting their strength to work so tea master Mr. Bei can craft our fine teas. According to tea master Mr. Bei there are only 14 days of harvest each year at this location for high quality white teas and green teas. Depending on weather conditions the remaining crops can be made into black teas. The rains came late this year followed by cold weather which have caused the production to drop by 60% compared to previous years. This also means a price increase and a waiting game of bidding. This is where the relationship comes in and cooperation on many levels to ensure fair prices and fair wages for great quality products.
Plenty of cheers and toasts at lunch today back at the Fair Trade tea estate after visiting the school, most of which were short blasts of warm words in local dialect which I couldn’t understand but I smiled broadly and clicked glasses. Granted, I am a light weight when it comes to alcohol and after a few toasts of beer in a little shot glass I got a little giddy.
So, I thought I’d share my own toast with a L’Chaim. L’Chaim in Hebrew means “To life” or in other words to remain healthy with a bit of luck thrown in there. Saying l’chaim with a slight guttural roll in the back of the throat for the “ch” part caused a momentary ripple in the room, but after saying a few times everyone was rocking out the l’chaims, laughing and adding their own words of wellness. Joining us at the table was the Chief of the farming community. A powerful woman in her own right with 600 farmers voting her in as their leader and voice for great teas in this region.
While lunch was rolling on the estate manager turned to me and in a low humble voice he asked me, “Are we friends?”
Then it hit me.
We eat. We share. We feel good and we do business in China as friends. 90% of success in business transactions done anywhere is based on trust. You want to make sure that you can stand by your product or service time and again. Friends will watch your back and make sure you are getting a reliable product.
Are we friends? I responded. Yeah, of course we are friends.
If you are ever having a bad day just look at this picture. These kids are all smiles. Except for the one with the corn in her mouth caught during a storm of kids bombarding the camera at lunch time. Otherwise I thought I felt like a rock star just being there and they certainly shined at the photo opp. Their school built in part by Art of Tea participating in buying tea from this Fair Trade project feels good knowing that they get a good education and learn in well lite, spacious and clean environment. It really started with a good intention and a team of people that believed in a better opportunity. It’s simple really or rather really simple. We will explore the process later and meet with potential Fair Trade opportunities in future posts.
Being a pretty tall foreigner the kids were a little standoffish but slowly warmed up as I just put my hand out for a high five. They all took dares at being the first on to give me a high five and as the crowd started to gather of course the kid with snot running down his nose gave me the first high five. That opened the gates so to speak of a rush of high fives. Later, I did a little improv English lesson with them and was impressed with the fact that these kids know way more English than I know Mandarin. I will post the video later on this experience as I have no access as in this part of China to YouTube, Twitter or Facebook.
Today we visited with the manager of one of the coop fair trade tea estates that we work with and got a private tour of the school. This school was built by TransFair Fair Trade Tea Program. We are happy to say that we as in you and me/our customers have contributed to this fantastic cause. So essentially first hand you can witness the difference between buying fair trade tea and non fair trade tea.
The school is fairly large. To give perspective it is similar in size to Hamilton High in Los Angeles which was the scene of 90210 in the 90’s and other tv shows. The school borders the old property which was essentially shacks. Now the kids have a beautiful place to learn while being surrounded by mountains, mist, a river and tea. The kids are from parents who participate in the tea coop and I was happy to hear that 30 kids a year later go on to college after graduating this school.
After spending a year in a peace corp type program in the Middle East working directly with povershed communities, schools and kids, I feel confident that I can get a strong sense on how legit a program may be running. I was happy to say that the grounds seemed positive, well kept and the kids are happy. More to come on this with a video interview of the principal, interaction with the kids and going back to meet Tea Master Bei at the estate.
There is this thought that I’d like to share that keeps coming to mind while on this trip. Which is the exploration of Altruism…and if altruism really exists.
If not then can we feel good knowing that we are doing well while doing good? I’d like to think this is the happy medium.
Let me know what you think. Meantime take a look out for more to come.
I have been on an whirlwind trip to various parts in Southern China visiting farms and sampling many teas, I must report a remarkable new tea find. After sampling this one tea which quickly grabbed my attention I asked the farmer the name and he quickly responded that this is a new tea to market with no name. I asked if I could name it. He smiled and offered the opportunity of a lifetime…
Wild Honey Sprout
Here is how I would describe it:
These white tea buds are hand harvested deep in the forest of Fujian Mountains. The process begins with nature first blanketing these rare and unique buds in morning dew before they are carefully hand picked and then hot air dried. These wild tea buds are thick and slightly spiraled in a longitudinal direction with an uninhibited white and golden down surface.
The steeped infusion reveals a light caramel color with flavor notes of acorn squash, banana bread and honeydew melon. This tea can be steeped multiple times and is a must for the most seasoned tea aficionado.
Please share your comments and feedback on this new find.
There is a certain peace of mind that comes with drinking a freshly steeped cup of tea. Today at the Art of Tea we had 4 potential wholesale customers visiting our warehouse and enjoying tea together. By chance, two were of Arabic descent and the other two were from Israel. All four found a sense of peace and a deep sense of joy and camaraderie in sharing tea together. The common thread was how they all looked back at tea as a part of a their childhood experience, saying that “it was always around” and “I remember my grandparents making me tea” and “It is part of our culture.”
One person on each side shared a common way of leaving a bit of tea in their cup as to not let the taste or sense to come to an end. To them an empty tea cup was likened to an ending. While the other two agreed that not finishing their tea was disrespectful and the liquid contents in the cup must be consumed in its entirety.
It was agreed that tea is the gap between nations, religions, genders and cultures. We can learn alot from the slowing process of sitting and allowing the tea to take in its positive effects on our state of mind and body and reveal our own sense of humanity and intelligence as stated so poetically “Two Kinds of Intelligence” in the book Essential Rumi
Two Kinds of Intelligence
There are two kinds of intelligence: One acquired,
as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts
from books and from what the teacher says,
collecting information from the traditional sciences
as well as from the new sciences.
With such intelligence you rise in the world.
You get ranked ahead or behind others
in regard to your competence in retaining
information. You stroll with this intelligence
in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more
marks on your preserving tablets.
There is another kind of tablet, one
already completed and preserved inside you.
A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness
in the center of the chest. This other intelligence
does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid,
and it doesn’t move from outside to inside
through the conduits of plumbing-learning.
This second knowing is a fountainhead
from within you, moving out.
Version by Coleman Barks
In 2008 Professor Lizette Joubert of the Agricultural Research Council and Professor Wentzel Gelderblom of the Medical Research Council, along with two more collaborators published an overview of existing knowledge about the history, cultivation, traditional uses, composition and biological activity of Rooibos and other South African herbal teas.
Here, in a nutshell are the top 10 reasons to enjoy a cup of Organic Fair Trade Rooibos, sans scientific jargon (well, maybe just a little jargon, it helps us sound credible):
1. Rooibos (or Aspalathus linearis) contains a complex mix of many flavonoids, which, contrary to the sound of their name, are not an intergalactic race of alien beings from Star Trek episode 39. These compounds widely found in plants are known to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and antiallergenic effects.
2. Aspalathin, one of the major flavonoids, is often the most active antioxidant in Rooibos, helping scavenge free radicals and protect cells and lipids (fats) against oxidative damage. Of course you could always read a Weight Loss and Happiness Book.
3. Rooibos also contains the rare flavonoid glucoside nothofagin. 10 points and a digital gold star to the one who can research the amazing health properties behind that one.
4. Rooibos does not contain caffeine, which means you get to enjoy your cup of anti-bacterial/viral/tumor/inflammatory/allergy tea without getting the jitters.
5. The major flavonoids in Rooibos demonstrate anti-mutagenic properties that help prevent or slow down cancer. In some studies green (unfermented) Rooibos is a more potent antimutagenic agent, while other studies found that fermented Rooibos has a higher antimutagenic effect.
6. The antioxidants in Rooibos protect the liver against oxidative stress and could have value for liver patients.
7. Studies on Japanese quails have shown that Rooibos protects blood cells and exhibits anti-ageing properties that slow down brain degeneration and prolong fertility – if it works for quails….
8. The bronchodilatory, antispasmodic, and blood pressure lowering effects of Rooibos, and its potential to stimulate the immune system, has been shown in some studies, but needs to be further explored – we’ll do our best to keep you updated on that one.
9. Put your tube of Goldbond on the back burner and brew a cup of Rooibos instead – human studies have shown that taking Rooibos is an effective way to treat several skin conditions. It decreased the incidence of herpes simplex within a few days, helped for itching associated with dermatitis, and reduced skin inflammation and sun sensitivity.
10. Honestly, it’s just fun to say.
Who is this drinking Art of Tea’s Monks Blend??????
Can you figure it out?? What????
Thats right!! Its Tony Shalhoub the star of Monk and look he is drinking our fabulously rich and delicious black tea.
Why is he drinking Monks Blend?
Although the tea is not named after him or the show Monk, it is a blend of three varieties of select black tea traditionally suffused with special healing prayers to create a fusion from a whole other level!
Working on goal setting with our team is always invigorating and motivating for me. The first five minutes of our group meetings are usually a bit sluggish but after everyone warms up we generate ideas that are shared and passed around the room in a proactive dialogue. Our group voices concerns and new concepts regarding organic teas, the direction of organic beverages, and organic botanicals.
In these meetings it becomes clear that there are specific issues regarding organic teas that need to be solved on a company level as well as on a global level. How can we make an impact with loose-leaf tea and organic bagged teas? Do our customers feel a difference if they are making an impression on a Tea Growers life? How can we measure a sustainable tea projects success?
The problem, of course, is turning a question into an answer. It’s easy to state a goal but to create movement, change, and results one must follow through with action like incorporating a new tea to a line or choosing between an organic tea or non-organic tea. When Art of Tea was born we took a look at the whole picture. If we feel that a product won’t create a remarkable lasting impression it doesn’t leave the warehouse. Roughly 10% of the new blends we create make it to our list each year, if it doesn’t hold up in our blending facility than it won’t go out to our dedicated customers. We test out new teas and we are truly grateful for the honest and open feedback our loyal customers provide us based on the samples they receive in their orders. Through your thoughts and comments we continue to grow and fulfill our company goals and meet our customers demands to add more organics to the list. We experience a full sensory experience based on solid ethics and quality care.
We made a clear choice that our core product line would be organic and we intend to continue to grow as we plug on through the continuous certification process. We create our organic teas and organic herbal blends based on taste, quality, organic origins, and overall benefits…a tea or tisane (herbal) that you can go back to time and again.
Art of Tea Reviews our Customers Top 10 Holiday Tea Gift Guide. Here are some of the latest and greatest suggestions for the holiday season.
1.Spice up your holidays with the Steamy Sampler. Featuring a seasoned choice for any occasion. The steamy sampler includes Jasmine Pearls, Halo, Iron Goddess of Mercy, Vanilla Berry Truffle Amore Tea, Velvet Tea.
- Create Masterful Recipes based on time tested formulations and learn new ways to create custom blends.
- Understand the art of complimentary teas and botanicals by matching proper grades.
- Identify proper mixing times tools and techniques.
- Uncover natural and artificial flavor applications.
- Understand blending with organic and non organic applications
To meet the high demand a second class has been opened up for the first Sunday in June and there are a few spaces left in this class which opened up. We look forward to seeing you everyone in Vegas.
A must to experience is this Darjeeling 2008 First Flush tea which comes from one of the last family owned tea estates in Darjeeling, India. The Makaibari estate in the Darjeeling hills of Northeastern India is home to the finest high grown Darjeeling teas and leader of biodynamic and organic permaculture. This high altitude tea is grown on picturesque steep slopes up to 4000ft, surrounded by fresh air and pure mountain spring water. Our select high grown tea is hand picked, artisan processed and provides a bright and brisk cup much lighter than other black teas because of its high altitude. This “champagne of teas” is a first flush tea which brews a pink, light amber color, fresh floral and apple like character, with a slightly astringent finish. It serves better when brewed at a cooler temperature of 180F. It is rare to experience a pure 100% Darjeeling outside of India. This is your passport to experience this rare and golden opportunity of a truly prized luxury.
It’s that time of year again, when singles feel even more single and couples spend an obligatory, outrageous amount of money on predictable gifts like roses, chocolates, dinner etc. This year, singles and couples alike should gift those they care about with a healthier, less pound-inducing gift.
Art of Tea’s Amore Tea is the perfect love elixir for a cold winter night. Share a cup of this blend of organic flower-scented white teas, wild roses, organic peppermint, and seasonally selected botanicals with your Valentine. Or better yet, treat yourself or a friend to the sensory experience of Amore Tea.
Although chocolate samplers are a quick sugar fix and a classic Valentines Day gift, try mixing it up and get your sweetheart Art of Tea’s Dessert Sampler instead. It’ll last longer than a couple days and won’t add to your waistline. Art of Tea’s Desert Sampler includes melt in your mouth teas like Carmelized Pear – a sweet and flavorful herbal blend with flavor notes of honey-coated tobacco, caramel, and fresh baked pear and Chocolate Monkey – a chocolate-lovers tea dream come true, with chocolate, banana, rooibos, and pink peppercorn blended together with fruit. Vanilla Berry Truffle and Velvet Tea round out the mix.
And don’t forget Art of Tea’s other Dessert Teas; Blueberry Cheesecake, Cinnamon Fig, Pumpkin Pie, and Rasberry Nectar.
Happy Valentines Day to all!
Love all, trust a few. Do wrong to none.
– William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616), “All’s Well That Ends Well”, Act 1 Scene 1
The Folks at Art of Tea are pretty picky as to what makes the cut each year for their teas and teaware. Each quarter a review of products new and old is taken to the test. To become part of our cutting edge teaware line, we take a close look at numerous products. We discovered this new look and decided to start with two new colors- Paprika and Sage. Each holds 12 oz of liquid with a wrap around, ergonomically sound grip which offers not only style, but also helps deflect heat. All in all, we love this new teacup with infuser. Its stylish modern look delivers functionality time and again with a .3mm strainer that we tried with many of our teas and tisanes.
Here is a little info on this new product and how to use it:
This Asian Style Tea Cup, complete with an extra fine 0.3 mm hole infuser and lid, is designed as a simple and clean way for brewing your own cup of tea in a modern Asian style.
The extra fine tea infuser enables you to brew fine teas and botanicals such like our organic rooibos, to larger varieties like our whole leaf organic Oolong.
When your tea has steeped for the appropriate time, simply remove the infuser from the tea cup and enjoy.
Care Instructions and Warning:
-Dish washer safe.
-Microwave safe, except the infuser.
-Remember to let boiling water settle about 15 to 20 seconds before pouring.
-Use caution when handling hot water.