I put out feelers for information on several popular Facebook tea pages including Tea Drinkers, Gong Fu Cha, and International Tea Talk, as well as blogs like TeaDB and was received very quick responses from several people on Facebook. The most obvious point was that this tea brick was not green tea but is in fact Pu-Erh tea some of which you can see at the feet of our robot friend here. Even though I am only a beginner and I trust that the friendly enthusiasts on Facebook know what they are talking about, I am not just going to take their word for it. In the process of proving to myself that this is Pu-Erh tea, I hope to rapidly learn as much as I can about Pu-Erh tea. More about Pu-Erh tea soon.
I sent a message to my friend from Hunan (the person who sent this gift) asking her to tell me where the tea brick came form. Her response was one word. Fujian, sent in Chinese so it was even shorter, 福建. Did I mention that she was reticent? At least she didn’t simply reply Shangdian (the shop). I sensed she was becoming annoyed at either my questions or my apparent fascination with something that to her may have seemed quite ordinary. Still, narrowing things down to a single province will hopefully make it easier to trace this tea back to the field or fields in which it was grown even if Fujian has the same land area as North Carolina or New York state and a population of almost 37 million people. Perhaps my virtual explorations will someday soon take me to Fujian?
So far we have, Pu-Erh and Fujian. What’s the third clue? The package label of course. But in fact, I have no idea if Longshan Tea is a descriptive mark, a distributor, or the originator. Following this path will hopefully be a means to learn a little about the modern tea trade as a whole. It’s only a brick of tea but already I am getting excited about the opportunities for discovery. Feel free to solve the mystery for me in the comments. I am a firm believer in collaboration! Exploration of the first clue begins with the next post.
Next post: Pu-Erh is human…