Mr. Chen, my jasmine tea partner, challenged me to walk up the 1,800 meters worth of steps to the Yong Quan Temple and then drive to our destination from the temple parking lot. I should have known better; older is certainly not wiser in my case. Anyway, after much huffing I made it to the top without passing out. We sat at one of the tea stands and had some tea while we waited for our driver to show up. We showed up at our destination at about 1pm. Stopped and had lunch in one of those roadside restaurants. I always remind myself of the "don't say yuk" list I made up: don't say yuk when your host offers you food that is unusual, for example; don't say yuk at roadside bathrooms, just be thankful...etc.
After another "don't say yuk" moment we drove on and got to the destination where the local officials would like me to take a look and invest some money: tea farms, recreational hotels, whatever. This plot of land is completely wild with its own several-acre-size pond. It would have made a lovely tea farm with work, but unfortunately, some local folks dug a freshly made grave site there! Out of respect I did not take a picture of the site but let's just say it ain't gonna work! After the inspection, I took off for the airport to fly to Kunming, Yunnan, where my best friend in tea resides.
Mr. Chang Jin Qiang picked me up at the Kunming airport at around 8:45pm or so, took me to the hotel, and we immediately started to cup the newly harvested puerh he has collected for me. Mr. Chang and I have been friends for over 20 years. Our friendship has endured many ups and downs for both of us, and when he visited me in the US, I dropped everything so I could take him wherever he wanted to go. Whenever I get to China, one phone call will bring Mr. Chang to me within 24 hours, no exceptions! In fact, Mr. Chang held a special tea tasting in Kunming for my tea tour group last September. The selections were so awesome that they brought some of the group to tears! Anyway, after cupping late into the night, that puerh cleaned up my system so well that I needed food! Let me tell ya, sometimes this tea merchant stuff is sure good for the soul (not to mention your stomach). He took me to a restaurant that serves dim sum all day, and what is more natural than dim sum and puerh tea? This restaurant has a lineup of carts ready for viewing and ordering at any second. The dim sum is only partially cooked; when you order, they finish cooking it. That is very cool compared to your friendly Chinatown dim sum houses. I finally got back to the hotel well past midnight. Exhausted and really feeling my age, I went to bed.
Today I am attending the Seventh International Puerh Exhibition in Kunming. After the show I am off to Yi Lang Tea Factory to look at our Yunnan Green production. We've been selling Yunnan Green since the beginning of Imperial Tea Court. There is definitely a fan base for this tea and we have been sold out for well over six months. The Yunnan Green in reality is a Dragon Well varietal that is transplanted in Yunnan; the Yunnan climate and soil changed it into something entirely different. I look forward to meeting with one of my first "friends in tea" again soon.