Off to China for Verdant Tea Adventures! What Can I Bring Back for Everyone?

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Thanks for all the well-wishes everyone! I am signing off here for the next 48 hours on my way to Qingdao, the nearest city to Laoshan Village.

First plans are to meet Weiwei, who does our buying when I am away (an old friend), and then to go get mushroom hotpot together. I will have to get pictures of the mushroom hotpot because it is a ten course culinary wonder like nothing else. After that we are going mountain climbing on the foothills of Laoshan. (It helps with the jetlag). After a good night’s sleep, it will be off to the tea fields.

I will try to get the first fun tea wares, updates, etc up by Monday.

Bonnie said

Bless you and Lily! Hello to Weiwei! Lucky you to eat such fine food and I know how you love that! Bring home at least one new recipe!

Claire said

Have fun and enjoy the food, that sounds amazing!

Aiko said

Wow, sounds like you have some incredible plans. I wish you safe travel and minimum jetlag!

DaisyChubb said

Whee have an amazing time!

Amongst other things, I will be especially keeping my eye out for any interesting green teas you will be listing and which you would be willing to custom source.

Your trip sounds wonderful and I hope to be a great opportunity for all involved. Thank you for your efforts to take us with you, virtually that is. : – )

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Teawares, I so desperately need. It has been a longtime since I made myself purchase tea wares; well a mug here and there. There is a place in Cambridge, MA that is ideal for china (stone ware) but I am not likely to get there anytime soon. Tea wares please and thank you. Have a safe/successful trip. I remember you venturing to China last year and there was a box for $20.00 one could subscribe to for that trip; if memory/reading was correct. Take care.

Oooh, tangent: where in Cambridge do you like to buy stoneware?

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Geoffrey said

Hi everyone! Just heard from David. He’s posted his first blog entry about the China trip. You can read about day 1 in the China Adventures Blog:

Also, he says that pictures will be coming soon!

Bonnie said

You should have gone with him…you could use those huge meals too! They sounded amazing!

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As many others have said, I would love to be able to purchase some nice, unique yixing pots, tea animals, and things like that.

I would be absolutely THRILLED if I had the opportunity to try an aged sheng. I haven’t had the chance to try anything from before 2003. Something from the early 90’s or before would be fantastic. Also, some aged oolongs would be great as well.

Hi Scatterbrain. I picked up an aged sheng with you in mind. An incredible pressing from 1996 when Mengku was still a small workshop, not a big international business. They got famous in the ’90s for being one of the first companies to do wild picked tea that was stone pressed. This is one of the bricks that made them famous. I have two 250g bricks, but since they are pricy (for obvious reasons) I will probably offer them by the ounce. Feel free to send a message through our site if you want some set aside before it is publicly posted.

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Geoffrey said

Another update. We just got pages up on the website for the first round of China teawares that David has selected for sale. A couple porcelain cups, a Ru Kiln pitcher, and a nice Yixing teapot! They are available now. There’s only one available of each, as they are all unique items. More will be added in the coming days. You can take a look here:

I saw the yixing teapot is already gone!

And now so is the flower pattern porcelain cup.. :)

Azzrian said

I want to know how much the yixing was so I can be relieved I missed it because it was out of my price range LOL


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Hi everyone!
I am back from China. Sadly, beloved Steepster is less beloved by the Chinese censors. I guess we are stirring up trouble with all of our friendly discussions and thoughtful tasting notes. Watch out! :)

Now that I am back, I can get back to sharing with everyone. More stories and videos will be posted very soon as I catch up with work, send out all of your pre-order teawares, and adjust to the time zone.

I mostly wanted to thank everyone for the support that allowed me to go on this trip. Teawares and fun aside, I accomplished some pretty big things while over in China. I will go into the details later, but in summary: I am helping Weiwei start a center for tea culture and literacy in Jimo China, essentially a tea bar and community space with free books on loan that sponsors meetings, hobby groups, and more. It is going to be incredible, and it has been Weiwei’s dream for a long time. Proceeds from tea staring today are going to fund the startup costs, but I will post the details on the site in the next week. I am also helping Wang Huimin get back on her feet after a lot of family crises to open a tea shop in Xiamen to sell her family and friends Tieguanyin and Taiwanese oolongs. She will be supplying us with oolongs starting now, proceeds from which will also be going to her teahouse project. The He family just bought a new house with a bigger facility for making tea, and opened a shop in Jimo to sell their own tea retail in part thanks to our constant support over the last year.
In addition to our cultural initiatives started, we have set in motion the development of several brand new kinds of tea:
Wang Yanxin and I got to work with farmers in Henan and Laoshan on creating a brand new kind of black tea that is on its way here. The He family is experimenting with new hand-processing techniques on green tea, and working out an OOLONG for the spring!

Each sentence here is a whole story to be told, and I will do my best to share in the coming weeks.

To celebrate getting back with no delays or lost baggage, I am putting up one of my favorite new acquisitions today: Song Dynasty Style Tea Cups, just like the ones used by the “tea emperor” Song Huizong. I met an artist at a tea wares exhibition, the first person I have seen doing a song style revival with the blue glaze teacups. I love that style like nothing else, so I bought his entire collection of thirty cups. Check it out:

All of the above sounds awesome (except for the censors)! I guess it is a good thing I have been waiting to buy some more tea; since now it also helps others. Can’t wait to see what experimental tea comes out.

P.S. Glad your trip was fun and successful!

The tea culture and literacy center sounds amazing! I am so pleased that my – our – love for tea will help to enrich other people’s lives as well. You, Weiwei, Wang Huimin and the He family do so much for us :) I’m excited about the new teas too!

It sounds like it was so much fun and so many good things are coming to those we support! I can’t wait to read the stories you have from there! Get some sleep and try to readjust for now.

Claire said

Wow, lots of exciting news! :) Can’t wait to try the He family’s oolong.

Bonnie said

Even the folks who work at Happy Lucky’s Tea House here in Fort Collins were following your adventures in China. Such a unique idea! Who but you would attempt such a thing?! I’m so glad your trip was a success and that you and Lily are home without any mishaps.

David, I’m glad you make it back. I enjoyed watching your website for the unique teapots, cups, etc. that were being offered while you were over there. I also enjoyed reading your posts. It sounds like you have been instrumental in many exciting new things going on involving the people you came in contact with over there. And I appreciate how what you are writing and posting helps make us feel connected to those wonderful things (and people) through your communications with us all (at least it helps me feel more connected). I am looking forward to reading (and possible ‘seeing’) more about your trip.

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Babble said

I noticed you brought back a lot of tea on your trip. I am curious, is it easier to bring back your tea when you accompany it? I know most of your tea shipments are handled by other people and require a lot of customs processing and what not..

Hi Rachel,
Customs is very intense to get the tea out of China whether it is accompanied by me, or our trusted customs expert in Qingdao. That is what makes our tea different. The administrative process of buying from families without big export licenses makes it impossible for just about anyone to manage at the scale that we do. Absolutely worth it though!

Most of what I personally brought back was teawares to make sure that nothing broke. So many wonderful pieces to start posting as I can between now and Black Friday.

Babble said

Ahh okay, so I guess it’s the same whether you are with it or not. Would have liked to see all the suitcases you took back to make sure you could fit all the teawares ;)

Dinosara said

Man, I had a hard enough time figuring out how to pack all the teaware I bought for myself in China for the trip back! I can’t even imagine how you managed to pack all that stuff. Kudos!

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Michele said

I wish I saw this sooner… I so want a teapot (ok. another teapot). They look so beautiful and I’m always so late in ordering. So, when are you going to China again? LOL

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Hi Everyone,
I am putting up all the rest of the tea wares I brought back from China this afternoon around 4PM CST. Look out for super fine hand painted Jingdezhen porcelain tea cups, tea animals, and a few more yixing teapots. This is all I have, so if you are looking for tea wares (or gifts!) this holiday season, this is the last offering I will be making. All hand made unique pieces picked up from good friends. Get a sneak preview on the Facebook album I posted:

I will also be posting a limited edition 1996 sheng pu’er. I have 12 ounces to offer up, with a limit of one ounce per buyer. This is a textural epiphany in the top three pu’ers I have ever tasted. Pressed from wild leaf by the famous Mengku before they were big. If you are curious about aged pu’er, this is something to check out. Facebook pic here:

Best Wishes,

By the way- interest has been pretty high on these wares. If you end up buying anything today after 4PM, I want to make you aware of a slight imperfection in our cart. Items will be listed as out of stock once they are bought, but if you put something in your cart, and then wait for 10 minutes, and someone else finishes checkout first, the cart doesn’t know to tell you the item is sold out if you already have it in your cart. It hasn’t been a problem in the past, but if you want an item, don’t put it in your cart until you are really ready to check out to ensure that you can really purchase it. Thanks!

Still six pairs of Jingdezhen cups available. Truly beautiful pieces:

Claire said

Suddenly I regret never buying lottery tickets!

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