Jasmine Phoenix Pearls
Lin Chui Feng – Fu Ding, Fu Jian Province
How long have you been growing tea?
What got you started in the tea industry?
It is a family business. We live in the tea mountain area for many generations. I began to do some simply tea work since I was 10. When I was 16, I began to work formally for tea growing and production.
Can you describe a typical day out in the field? How many hours would that be?
I go to pick up the tea leaves in early morning at 5-6am and go back home around 6pm. Tea mountain is a wild and big area, we need to climb the mountain and need long walking. After picking we need to go to the factory to do some producing. Some times we have to work in the evening if necessary. Normally I will work 10-11 hours a day.
What is your favorite part of growing tea? What inspires you to keep going?
I love the picking during Qing Ming in early spring. The weather is nice with fresh air. The quality of tea from this season is the best. The price of tea leaves is expensive. We can earn more money in this period if we picking up as many tea leaves as possible. So this keeps us working hard and full of energy no matter picking up the tea leaves in the mountain or making teas in the factory. I really enjoy it.
Conversely, what is the hardest part of your job?
Jasmine pearl is made by hand which requests lots of hand working. Pearl shape is very important and difficult. Unlike normal teas made by machines, this shape making is a hard work which needs time and careful handling as well as experience. On the other hand, the hardest part for jasmine pearl is jasmine flower blending. In order to get the best flower time, we must do this job in the midnight in Jul and Aug when the best time for flower blooming comes. Meanwhile we must control the temperture and time. A good quality jasmine pearl requests several time of blending so as to absorb the richest flower flavor.
How has tea farming changed over the years?
Before there was no management in the tea field. No one would handle or cut the tea leaves. As a result it is difficult to pick up the tea leaves. The quality is different from each farmers as we all made at home. But now the teagardens are under control. We will cut the tea trees to keep them in good condition and remove the grasses. We also use fertilizer under direction to kill insects and learn morden management. All the production must be handled in the factory with a clean circustance. Working condition has been improved as well.
What do you think makes your tea more unique or better than others?
The most important is the long term experience. Besides, we always use the best early spring tea leaves and wait for the best jasmine flower season in Jul or Aug.
What makes the difference between a successful and unsuccessful harvest?
The spring weather is very important for teas. If the weather is too cold in Feb with frost, then the buds cannot come out in March. As a result, the production will come down.
Do you exchange growing secrets with other local farmers?
Yes, I will discuss and exchange ideas with relatives, neighbors and friends in the same village. We share the experience and problems together.
Are there any tips you can give on how to best brew your tea?
Using the mountain spring water will make tea brewing more delicious. The taste will be better after brewing when the soup cools down. [NOTE: In China, steeped tea is sometimes refered to as soup]
What is your favorite tea to drink & why?
I love the white tea such as pai mu tan. I like the mild and pleasant taste.
If you had any advice to give western tea drinkers, what would it be?
Welcome to visit our Lin village in Fu Ding. We will share our experience to use the cool tea soup with rice. Which makes everybody happy with natural vegetable.
What does this project & contribution mean to you?
This project is very interesting. It is a good chance to tell tea drinkers outside the story of tea. So that you will understand the difficulty of making teas and the happiness of our tea farmers. The contribution will keeps me working hard and make the best teas to the tea lovers.
What would be the main benefit of receiving this donation?
Maybe one day I can go out of the Fu Ding mountain to see the outside world.