I first ran across our China Black Special black tea (one of my favorite straight black teas) in Germany about 12 years ago, and fell in love with it. I spent the next four years trying to find the person who made it.
And in 2009 I finally met Amy Chen at a tea fair.
Amy Chen, plucking tea in one of her tea fields in Guangxi province, China
Amy Chen worked for the state owned tea company China Tea Import and Export Group, Guangxi, from the early 1990’s until 2004 (remember that mainland China is a communist country and until around 1999 almost all tea companies in China were operated by the government). In 2004 she broke off and formed her own private company, focusing exclusively on Guangxi teas. And wonderful teas they are.
Amy’s factory and fields are located in the mountainous southern part of Guangxi province, between 2000 and 4000 elevation. It’s some of the prettiest tea country I’ve ever seen.
Amy’s tea fields in southern Guangxi
Amy founded and has grown her company by adhering to an unwavering commitment to quality. To maintain that quality, Amy relies on a lot of hand work to make her best teas.
Amy’s tea fields being hand-weeded in Guangxi
Once the tea leaves the fields it heads to Amy’s tea factory in Nanning, Guangxi, China, where the emphasis on high quality and hand work continues.
Amy’s tea factory in Nanning, China
When you consider the worldwide players in the tea industry, Amy’s Guangxi tea company is pretty small. But personally I am astounded by what one woman (and about 16 great employees) has created and how they have grown in a short 14 years.
Once the tea leaves reach the factory the focus on quality and hand work continues.
Hand-sorting tea leaves that will eventually become Silver Needles
Amy tends to focus on high quality specialty teas unique to her homeland, Guangxi province. For instance, white teas such as Bai Mu Dan are noticeably different than white teas from Fujian because they are grown with their own unique Guangxi cultivar and within Guangxi’s unique environment.
Amy’s employees hand-sorting leaf for the white tea, Bai Mu Dan
Amy makes teas unique to Guangxi (aka hong cha) like our China Black Special (below), which is full-bodied and exceptionally smooth with a hint of a sweet almost caramel note.
China Black Special tea is unlike any other tea I’ve tasted in China. That’s partly because it is Guangxi specific, and it’s partly because Amy makes it with extraordinary skill and commitment to quality.
We are very proud that Amy Chen is one of our direct sources for tea.
Bill Waddington, founder