Starting off a new year in China comes with the annual Spring Festival. During this season, China sees the largest migration of people in the world. It is a time of family that calls people home. In China, family is very much related to place. Most Chinese feel some kind of kinship to people from their home town. It is also a time of good luck, and the luckiest year is the Year of the Dragon. It is certainly my favorite time of the year when all of the possibilities are out in front of us. In the tea business, at least for us because China is so much a part of our lives, it is the most exciting time of the year. Seasons mean a lot to us because our business revolves around them.
2011 was a good year for us. I was in China for five months and Zhuping was there for three. We even took Julian, our youngest son, out of school in the spring and put him in a Chinese school in Chongqing for three months. Our son Josh, who is in college studying music and Chinese, spent a couple of months in Qingdao at the university there. It is my feeling that if your kids can speak Chinese and English, you really don’t need to worry about their future much. America and China will certainly be shaping the future for many generations to come.
20 years ago this year, I was first introduced to good Chinese tea, and it will make the tenth year that Seven Cups has been in business. China and Chinese culture have enriched my life on so many levels that I am unable to get my mind and feelings around how moved I have been by the experience. Going into the new year holds just as much excitement for me as it did in the beginning, even though staying alive in business has been really challenging. It has been true for me and the people that work here that everyday is a good day to go to work. The tea never gets boring, the work is always challenging, and even though the market for high-end tea in the world outside of China is small, it is growing every year.
We tried to make this business as hard as possible. First of all we decided to sell a hot beverage in the Sonoran Desert in Southern Arizona, then we decided to never sell any tea in a tea bag. We also decided that we would sell tea that was quite a bit more expensive than people were used to buying. We decided to reveal all of our sources, information that other tea companies consider to be trade secrets. We decided that we would not engage in blending, a practice that mixes good tea with not-so-good tea to maximize profits. We also decided never to flavor any of our teas, and provide the deepest information we could dig out of China, an all consuming, never ending pursuit. We don’t buy tea from anyone that doesn’t produce it, and the only way we can be satisfied is by visiting the production area. We wanted to be able to offer all of the teas that had been distinguished as “Famous Teas,” and we wanted to get the best example of each one, both for authenticity and quality. In short we decided to do business differently from every tea company that was successful that we knew of.
Thanks to all of our customers, producers, dedicated staff, friends and family that supported us, and for the support that we have received from the tea community, both in China, America and people from almost every country in the world. We are looking forward to another year in business, taking it one harvest at a time.
We at Seven Cups wish you all good health, prosperity, and luck in the Year of the Dragon.