Soren, Aya, and Tano rode the 2 hours with me to Fuding. They must have low expectations, because they were happy to arrive!
We are staying in a four star hotel with clean bathrooms and great service.
The White Tea company we buy from are owned both by farmers who are also entrepreneurs. They are not only organically certified by EU standards, they also have the cleanest facility in China, period. Even Soren the European was somewhat impressed. My mission is to make sure that my Free Leaves are being made properly. It was good to see rows and rows of women tying these beautiful bouquets of fresh green and white tea leaves, wearing lab coats, gloves, and hair nets. We in fact, had to put on lab coats to get in, so that was fun for everyone, even Tano.
The agitating machines roll and separate the green teas. Their tea production factory is ISO 9000 certified, which means that the inspections are sudden, unannounced, and swift.
Hearing that foreigners of some sort were in town, the local TV station followed us around and interviewed me. If no one was run over by a truck nor the typhoon wasn’t too bad, then presumably we will be on the evening news.The banquet was outrageous on many levels. First of all, the head of the Agriculture Dept., an old professor type who was extremely organized in thought and ability to describe all proud aspects of life in Fuding, graced us with his presence at dinner, and pontificated on the natural resources present. First of all, the tea. White Down and Large White are the prime varietals of China, and originates from Fuding. It has the best health properties, and their motto is, ‘health, environment, and green foods’ Tano thought the beer was great. Indeed, it was light, but ahead of even TsingTao in taste. Then the dishes kept coming. Tano’s favorite was a brown bao filled with shrimp and some local farm raised fish. I had cold thin sliced bitter melon dipped in honey, and the most flavourful, sweetest local organic mushroom soup. Everything was well presented, unique, and perfectly balanced and tasty. You see, the politicians, the business people, and the local labour force are all on the same page: prosperity through a sustainable environment, green and clean food. Tano asked if Fuding was interested in having Berkeley as a sister city. I suspect it’s so he can come here often to eat. Both he and Soren could not stop eating nor praising this as the best meal they ever had in China.
Well, indeed, the city of Fuding was blessed with mountains as well as great spring water, and it is an ocean port city. Green crab, small river shrimp, just to name a few, are stable local foods feeding about 600,000 people, of which 320,000 people are involved in some aspect of tea.