Red Circle Tea

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I'm back in Guangzhou with great teas sourced after an adventure of a lifetime. It's hot and the weather is tempestuous. Afternoon thunderstorms and heavy hot heat cover the city.

One day, at 1:30pm on the afternoon the cloud cover became so dark it looked like night. I'd never experienced this before.  This was the view from the front porch of the tea house looking outside down the street. The leaves on the left are lit from the lights of the store inside. The lights of the businesses are on, but there are no street lights at 1 in the afternoon.  Since no one else seemed alarmed, so I assume this has happened before and just went with it. An hour later after a torrential rain, the clouds cleared and the sky was blue and peppered with popcorn white clouds.

This year Bai Mu Dan White Tea and Golden Heart Ti Kuan Yin are particularly good, and I stock up on those. The Bai Mu Dan is a pre-Qing Ming tea and gives up to 10 steepings, this is actually the best grade of white tea I've ever tasted.  The Golden Heart is Fresh and still roasty and perfectly uniform.

I also source a top grade of honey sweet Chrysanthemum flowers, and new teas like a Szechuan Red. The Szechuan Red  is a Gong Fu grade that is superbly delicious with notes of strawberries and fresh bread, it would be delicious hot or cold steeped with a summer strawberry cobbler.  I compare two Dragonwell teas that are both Pre-Qing Ming. They are both equally good, though prices have gone up 15%. They reflect that this year in Hangzhou was unique, it was too sunny and dry and hot followed by way too much rain. These teas are from the hot dry days. I choose the higher grade of the two Pre-Qing Ming Dragonwells that has the top notes I'm looking for. It is exquisite and so high a grade it is yellow, (not to be confused with yellow tea, this leaf is yellow, but not oxidized to be a Yellow tea). It reminds me of the yellow soil of Hangzhou up on Shi Feng. Mei Jia Wu is the larger and lower altitude growing area of Dragonwell tea, but has more sulphur in the soil. Shi Feng is a higher altitude peak, and the soil has sand in it, gently limiting the mineral intake to the tea leaves and resulting in a higher fragrance and potential for a yellow leaf after processing.

I also pick up more of my best-selling teas that are solidly delicious this year: Ying De Red, and Big Red Robe Wu Yi Oolong, 2007 Liu Bao and 1996 Menghai. This year I buy more tea than I ever have before, and I'm excited to have enough tea to meet demands. It feels like I've hit a home run, and I'm passing 3rd base, walking with my head high towards home plate. What a lucky, fun, successful trip.  I have one more day here and two days of fun in Hong Kong to come. These are the sweetest days of this trip after the hard work is done when I savor how far I've come.

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