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Traveling to Yunnan: The Birthplace of Tea

The greatest thing about drinking tea in China is that it’s one of the most normal things you can do. You do not need to pretend to be relaxed, mindful, or healthy while drinking it there. It gives me a chance to try to blend in (I don’t) and get the scoop straight from the horse’s mouth. Yunnan Province is said to be the birthplace of tea itself.

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Drinking tea with an instrument maker during my last trip to China, 2018

On this trip (July 1-11) I will be traveling with my friend Daniel Hong and one of our Fujian tea suppliers, Mr. Tang Shuang Jiang. The trip will take us from the capital of Yunnan, Kunming, to Puer City, Lin Cang City, and various stops in Xishuangbanna. The purpose of the trip is to touch base with two of our current suppliers, Ms. Zhao Yu Jie and Mr. Yang Xiuhai, and have a damn good time. The first hand education of Yunnan’s black and Puer teas is the prize.

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My host and friend, Daniel Hong

There is no more authentic experience than going to a foreign country and trying to figure out what is authentic. Each moment is a subtle test of my wits (which are not quick) since I don’t fully understand the rules of the game (and I’m probably jet-lagged). But it’s that non-quantifiable quality that turns tea from a foodstuff into romanticism. When I realized that most decisions during tea production were made by using the senses (particularly smell) rather than meters and gauges, I decided I did not need to measure out my tea, set a timer for steeping, or worry about water temperature. I just needed to go to Yunnan.

-Michael Lannier

Touring Ms. Huang Yu's tea fields in Fujian, 2018

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