The rooster crows at the break of dawn, announcing the first day of Chinese New Year. On this auspicious occasion, three or four generations assemble to usher in a new year, dressed in red to symbolise good luck. Gathered by seniority, we serve tea to the elders and ask for forgiveness.
This annual green tea ceremony heralds a new chapter in our lives and allows us to repent for any times when we have wronged another through our speech, thoughts or actions. For me, it’s also a time when the heart and soul can be renewed; a time to let go and detach from ill feelings and enjoy the rich journey that is life. A simple, yet beautiful occasion that represents forgiveness, compassion and unity.
The Chinese do not only serve green tea during the New Year; tea plays a big role in many of our lives. It’s a simple form of an official introduction. Newlyweds serve the elders during their wedding ceremony as a way of breaking the ice. And, like any household in the world, be it Morocco, India, Britain, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Korea or Japan, we offer our guests a hot drink to signify harmony, humility and respect for one another.
About eight years ago, I embarked on a solo trip to China and it was here that I first discovered the true beauty of tea. This tantalising combination of flavours changed my perception of tea forever, bewildering my mind and teasing my tastebuds. I continued to offer green tea to my guests and always look forward to their facial expressions when tasting different teas for the very first time.
My newfound love of tea prompted me to visit China and Japan in 2015 to learn more about its origins and the vast benefits of green tea. I visited many farms, factories, auctions and tea houses, tasting everything from teas made especially for royalty to those that had been hand-rolled by skilled masters and cost more than gold.
The trip to Japan and China was not a smooth one. Firstly, language was a barrier in both the countries. With only enough knowledge to ask simple things like directions to the nearest restroom it was already a challenge, but the last minute cancellation of our flight to Guangdong due to extreme bad weather led us to believe the Gods were against us. It was tiring. It was frustrating. It was disappointing. Home was fast becoming the only place we wanted to be at. In a twist of fate, we decided to spend our remaining days in the Zhejiang province, to be told by my dear father that it is the home of Longjing (Dragon Well) Tea. Nestled in the breath-taking West Lake District, Dragon Well has been part of the green tea family for centuries, and I saw our chance arrival here as a sign. Sometimes the Gods have their own funny ways of showing us direction, and we spent the next few days searching for Longjing farmers and learning the story of their tea. We saw the dragon, and the well- oh yes, the Gods had brought us here for sure. The rest is history.
As for the time spent in Japan, it was an eye opener. This is a country where people are refined, cultured, meticulous and disciplined. Almost everything fascinated me. Objects are created based on practicality and beauty, co-existing without compromising one another. The perfect packaging for a simple Japanese sweet bought at a market is wrapped with so much finesse; almost too pretty to unwrap.
We travelled right to the south of Kyushu prefecture to Kagoshima, the second largest tea production area of Japan after Shizuoka. We saw how tea was processed from farm right to the shop. We learnt how hard it is to make matcha and we discovered how much effort needs to be put in to produce amazing teas. We also tried their local delicacies, including the unforgettable raw chicken dish (chicken sashimi).We spent two separate nights in Tokyo and had the opportunity to feel two earthquakes, one of which was above 7.0 on the Richter scale. Honestly and ironically, to experience an earthquake uninjured was on my to-do list. My wish was granted. I embraced everything somehow. I named the trip “in search of excellence with a twist of fate”.
Tea has lost its true meaning and value due to our hectic and busy lifestyles. Green tea isn’t just green tea. It deserves more respect. Green Tea Artisan is on a mission to offer fresh and good quality green tea. Folks say it is not the destination, but it is the journey that counts. Our aim is to bring back the origins of tea and advocate forgiveness, compassion, unity, respect and humility. We would like to invite you to join us on this journey, so you too can explore the flavours and reap the benefits of this special plant.
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