In part 4 of this tea cake mystery, we traced the clues to a packaging company in Shenzhen, Guangdong where we found an example of a tea package with the same logo and the words Longshan Tieh Kwan Yin TEA printed in the corner. Could this be a step on the path to discovering where this gift of tea originated from? The short answer is no. Longshan Tieh Kwan Yin Tea is just an anglicization of the pinyin tiěguānyīn ( 铁观音) which is a premium variety of Chinese oolong tea which originated in Fujian province. We are looking for pu-erh tea, not oolong. So this is a bit of dead end.
At this point it seems we’ve exhausted the simplest path to discovering the source of this awesome tea. Or maybe not. On the other side of the wrapper is quite of bit of Chinese text in a layout which is clearly some kind of product description. Fortunately we are living in the future, and the character recognition capability of Google translate was able to make sense of the text with only mildly humorous results.
Continuing with the translation, we strike gold! 生产商：勐海顺兴茶叶有限公司公瓦 translates very cleanly to Manufacturer: Menghai Shun Hing Tea Co., Ltd. official title. Now that we have the company name we can go directly to and search baidu using the Chinese text. Very quickly we get this Alibaba storefront, and this makepolo.com storefront. A few seconds of searching around and bingo! an address.
Google location search is unable to resolve this address. A little bit of manual searching gets me in the general area but the overhead imagery is too low res to make anything out. And not surprisingly there is no Google street view in Foshan city. Fortunately baidu maps is able to resolve the Chinese text of the address (佛山市南海区盐步穗盐路迎海国际茶都C1座1-3号) and with a little more visual searching the specific building is found.
Baidu map streetview works very well (but not perfectly) in Foshan City and fifteen or twenty minutes of virtual strolling down International Tea Salt Round reveals something that looks like our Menghai Shun Hing Tea Co., Ltd. The name seems to matches the information from the web storefront URLs but the Chinese text on the building does not seem to be exactly the same.
But behold, the web address is conveniently right on the building for us to check out. Lo and behold, it appears to be the same company. In fact, going to the contact page shows that the Shun Hing Tea Factory is in Meng Town, Menghai County, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan. Thus the name Menghai Shun Hing Tea Factory. Ruirong corporation (http://www.gzruirong.com/) in Guangdong is the distribution arm of the same organization perhaps? Certainly everything about the website suggests that it is the same organization. Even the style of the packaging and script is the same. Stepping out of my character as a naive investigator for a moment because my mouth is watering looking at all that beautiful tea on their website. Let’s pause for a moment and contemplate drinking that tea. Come back when you are done.
Welcome back. Pretty certain that we are on the correct path. What do you think the next step should be in our quest to trace this gift of tea back to the place that it came from? I have some ideas but please make some suggestion in the comments and join our little naive mystery!
Next post: On the tea road to Yunnan
If you are just joining this story, It started with a gift of tea from a friend
Some of the results mentioned in this post
产品名称 Chǎnpǐn míngchēng
Product name: Iceland’s legendary Pu’er tea (raw tea)