This summer, our warehouse manager Sarah and I traveled to China for a course at the ITA Tea Sommelier Certification School in Pu Erh. Pu Erh, of course, is home to the famed fermented tea of the same name, which is so venerated in some circles in China it is treated as an investment and sometimes offered as part of a bride’s dowry.
We spent an amazing week at the Pu Erh National Park to get a first-hand look at the growing and processing of both Chinese green tea and pu erh tea. We also had the opportunity to pluck, fire, and roll our very own batch of green tea - sorry folks, that one won’t be available on ArborTeas.com!
While there, we gained hands-on experience brewing, cupping and tasting tea in the Chinese style. Of course, cupping and tasting tea is something we do at Arbor Teas all the time, but it was fascinating to learn the Chinese style of cupping, which involved submerging the tea leaves in water after the tea was steeped to improve visual inspection of the infused leaf - brilliant!
We were taught how the Chinese method of cupping identifies the age of the tea leaf, how much oxidation it underwent during the manufacturing process, and even which cultivar of tea was used.
While in China, we also had a chance to get out of the tea garden and see the sights! We traveled to Beijing, walked the Great Wall, and got to tour Beijing’s famed tea market where we tasted some of the trendiest teas in China right now (which aren’t known for their flavor, but for the beauty of the leaf). However, most folks we encountered in China drink more familiar varieties of loose leaf green tea and herbals such as dried chrysanthemum. And they drink it all day long – carrying around glass tea bottles that they refill with hot water throughout the day, re-steeping the leaves over and over.
Whenever we travel to a tea region, our appreciation for tea grows. This time was no different. Between experiencing Chinese tea from garden to cup, to chatting with locals about the types of tea they drink and love, being in China once again deepened our understanding and appreciation for this ancient beverage that is such a big part of our lives, and the lives of our customers.
To see many more photos and videos from our trip to China, check out our Facebook album, Postcards from China.