We recently visited Hangzhou, which has become the modern national capital for trade groups and various governing bodies. Hangzhou is completely different than the bamboo forests we’ve been living in these past few days. It’s cosmopolitan and reminds us of France with tree-lined streets. In the morning, we watched Mr. Weng Shang Yi (Shi Feng Long Jing master) flip bud + two leaves and press them flat in the wok to give the result its unmistakable appearance. Another completely different process for a green tea with no roasting time and only short rests between each of four frying sessions. His daughter cooked us an amazing country lunch before taking us on a walk over well paved trails around the hills of tea. The area is a big tourist spot for the lovers of Dragon Well so access was cush compared to the hill hiking we’ve been doing so far. The rains stop the harvesters, but only until the sky clears to a light drizzle. Because they are paid by weight, they’re back out harvesting as soon as possible.
At the International Tea Culture Institute we met Mrs. Luo Shaojun. It’s hard to describe her. She’s the Director, Researcher, Senior Tea Taster- well, that’s what’s on her business card. She’s also wonderfully personable and excited to meet new tea geeks to extend her world tea family. She told us the story of her childhood and how she got into tea – with less-than-stellar grades and way before tea was fashionable. As the country’s most knowledgeable Inspector of Tea, she shoveled more food onto our plates at dinner. After dinner, she emptied a box of 25 different kinds of Puer into bags for each of us. As a tester, her office overflows with tea. It’s such an honor to be taken in by so many wonderful Chinese in the name of the brotherhood of tea.