The moving boxes are piled up to the ceiling. I’ve just moved and the great unpacking can begin. My mother was sweet enough to help me with this mega-job. “Shall I do the kitchen?” she offered enthusiastically. And who would be better than a mother to know how to organize a kitchen practically? You don’t need to explain anything to a mother; she feels instinctively the logic of an intelligent system. Courageously she begins unpacking the boxes. So far, so good.
She has never been able to smuggle a foreigner into the forbidden Jin Jun Mei tea area. Still, my guide is willing to take the chance to get me in today. I am making a tea trip in China and about to experience how Jin Jun Mei tea is made. Top secret. The authorities jealously refuse entry for non-Chinese to the area. They are deathly afraid that their preciously preserved process will fall into the hands of malicious competition in foreign countries. Jin Jun Mei is a very special tea that only grows here: golden and with a flavour like honey. The Chinese prefer to keep something like this exclusive.
Continue reading “Forbidden tea”
Wuyi Mountains, China. I am in the Far East to buy from the new harvest for my tea brand. In this area literally everything has to do with tea. Just about everyone in the region grows, sorts, picks and/or sells it. Young and old together. Tea is number one, then comes tea, and then once again, tea. Everything else in the world follows a distant fifth. And despite it being such a big deal, people here are, funny enough, not as serious about their beloved leaves as we western tea makers.
I am at a friend’s house for dinner when the doorbell rings. It is Dirk, a friend of the host who I only vaguely know, came by and joins us for a beer. “You do something with tea and coffee, ” he says to break the ice. “I don’t like coffee. I don’t care for that smoky mocha flavor. I drink tea sometimes. Actually same pot. It just like when someone says: I don’t like potatoes. Which kind? Mash, boiled, fried as chips? In the gaps between Dirk’s sentences I hear sounds of surprise escaping from me.
The Chinese village of Xiamen is for Da Hong Pao tea what Gouda is for Gouda cheese. Here are the deeply deep-seated roots of this fragrant oolong tea. Da Hong Pao has been distributed throughout China for 26 generations via the river that flows through this hamlet. Today I can take a peek at this centuries-old place of pilgrimage for tea enthusiasts to see how Da Hong Pao is made. It is a wondrous spectacle. I wish you could walk with me through the small streets. Then you would see that time has never touched the village. Xiamen looks like a carefully stylized decor for a dreamy movie. Beautiful antique woodcarving is everywhere you look. On front doors, on the walls of homes. Like a museum. I am in love.