In August this year, Hans and I travelled the many miles from York to Shanghai. After travelling for 24 hours we arrived at Pu Dong Airport in Shanghai at 1am. It was my first trip to China and although Hans had been many times before he was still as shocked as I was when we left the airport building to be hit by hot humid air despite it being in the wee hours.
I can tell you that the heat and humidity of that first night in China are something I will never forget but it was something I was going to have to get used to over the next few weeks!
We spent a few days in our Shanghai office, catching up and I was allowed out to do a bit of exploring! I went to the Huxinting Tea House at Yu Garden (where I did a bit of shopping) and also visited another Tea House called Breeze House where I had a lovely Tie Guan Yin and Roger enjoyed a cup of Bi Lou Chun. I have to say that my first experience of Chinese Tea Houses was a very positive one. They have such a pleasant atmosphere and all around us were families and groups of friends who looked settled enough to spend the whole day there drinking tea and enjoying course after course from the extravagant choice of food available at the buffets. I wish there were more places like this to eat and drink in the U.K.
After a few days catching up in Shanghai we went on a road trip. Our first port of call was Changle. This is a city in the Fujian Region, situated quite near the coast. We spent our time in Changle looking at different Jasmine farms and Jasmine Tea producing factories. I loved being in the jasmine fields as the smell was intoxicating! I can’t believe such small flowers can create such a powerful aroma! We spent a lot of time with the people who produce our Jasmine Dragon Pearls and learnt about the detail that goes into processing it (it is quite lengthy and probably deserves an entry of its own).
From Changle we moved on to Dehua one of the ceramic capitals of China. We spent some time here researching ceramics to help us in the development of our own ceramic range. We found some beautiful samples, I only wish my suitcase could have been bigger and I would have brought so many of them home with me.
We then made the (very long) journey up to Hangzhou to visit the Long Jing farm we buy from. It obviously wasn’t tea picking season but we like to maintain our relationships with the farmers so it was great to catch up and spend some time there. Plus it was my first visit to the farm so I loved being able to see it and walk up the mountain. The views were extraordinary! It was amazing to see tea in its fresh state and see all the tea bushes at different stages of their lives.
For the rest of the road trip I have to admit, we took a little holiday and visited the West Lake in Hangzhou. I can’t express how beautiful it was, I hope that I can go back there one day.
All in all I would say it was a fascinating and very busy trip to China and I am looking forward to what any other trips in the future will bring!