Here is a picture of me when I first went to China to learn how to make tea.  How do you like those Mark Spitz hot pants?  I look like a mindless grengo from far away photoshopped into a hundred year old photograph.  This was when getting a sun tan made you look healthy.  I just found this picture with lots of others from tea gardens and tea factories.

I traveled all over China going to the tea production areas.  I would go through the factory like a carefree tourist (remember I had hundreds of tea plants over five years old and could not make tea) and act half interested and ask about the processing.  “Well, just hot do you get that, anyway?” and “What are you now going to do with that, for goodness sake.”  I knew what I was looking at and actually stole technical secrets from the Chinese factories.  Some were very simple and some were more modern technology.  I learned how to make a commercial grade tea from this trip but later learned better processes to make a higher quality artisan brew.

The mornings here are still quite cool, in the 50’s instead of the 80’s.  This is slowing down the spring flush considerably.  Here it is the end of April and I should be in “high cotton” by now.  We have made several pounds of our delicate yellow tea from the first blooming buds.  It dries dark but has white lines (trichomes on the buds that look like white fur) all over it like the white tea has.  We have made several more pounds of whole leaf green tea, carefully packed so as not to break up the leaves.  I don’t really have a market for that as it is not the style tea my customers are wanting.  We have made several large batches of first flush green tea which has an excellent character.  That is what we are making now.  I like a little older growth to start making black tea but mother nature is not cooperating.

Remember if you come to visit the tea farm you have to call first for a reservation.  Tours cost $10 per person and you will want to bring a little more cash to buy a bag or two of tea.  Its a farm here with lots of bugs, dogs and peacocks and chickens.  It takes about an hour for a tour and I can entertain as many as six people, but I really only need two or three at a time.  You do not sit around and sip tea as if its a tea social,  but you get a cup of which tea we are brewing and listen to me tell you about how tea is grown and produced.  Small children do not find that interesting.   If this all sounds good to your liking, come on down and see us!

Donnie Barrett