Winnie Yu, fellow UC Berkeley alum and proprietress of Teance Tea in Berkeley, has just returned from an arduous adventure to Southern China in search of the rarest of the rare Chinese teas. Winnie climbs the "remote, hidden, inaccessible, and therefore, pristine mountains of China", endures the humidity and insects, meets the bribe-coercing officials and then after overcoming the obstacles, finds the tea-farming families who keep alive (by a thin thread) the centuries-old traditions of whole-leaf tea growing. She has become friend and confidant to village farmers all over China and Taiwan and she has, through intense effort, learned many of the traditional, closely-guarded secrets of turning the leaves of the camellia senensis plant into tea worthy of offering to politicians, that is to say, the top, top tea that the ordinary Chinese rarely get to taste. Read Winnie's tea adventures blog here. Cllck around for the earlier entries.
She climbs the narrow, rain-slick tracks to the back-country, to villages where food is cooked on wood stoves and where plumbing conveniences are a hole over a pit. Her journal entries include memorable, evocative photographs of misty mountaintops, ancient temples and wind-dried duck (just what it sounds like - - see for yourself.) I read every blog entry of her progress on the journey and I predict that after you do, the next stop will be the kitchen, where you reach for the hot water kettle and your tea cupboard. Winnie is going to share stories and give tastes of the tea she brought back on May at Teance Tea Shop in Berkeley, and no, I am not paid to make these statements, I just enjoy the words and pictures of places in China I'll probably never get to and the tea journey atmosphere that Winnie Yu conveys in her journal. (Click here for the blog.)
If somebody is in the Bay Area on May 23rd, and wants to taste some of the superb teas that Winnie brought back, click here for the information. Don't delay, as places go quickly.
(All photos by Winnie Yu)