Here are some pictures from the ghetto like white tea farms we visited during our tea buying expedition.
I have always been attracted to photographing Asian public markets. When we walk through we witness how people interact with the producers of their foods, a relationship we’ve lost on a mass scale in North America.There is something very humanistic, and fresh, about shopping and buying from those who are directly associated with your food and community. Such a sharp contrast to the Styrofoam, pre-packed, labeled and marketed products that are distributed here by companies. I traveled to China to buy tea and research the Tea Farms. Thanks to my friends I had the perfect opportunity to travel and photograph both urban and rural outdoor public markets. Here are a few pictures from the trip, including a modern supermarket for contrast. Now if you’re actually shopping in a Chinese Market, and you’re a foreigner, have your Chinese friend do the buying if you want to pay the actual cost. The closer you stand to your Chinese friend the more you pay.
Finding and buying some of the best tea depends on relationships and introductions. Last year when my partner and I were purchasing tea in China, we were fortunate enough to have been introduced to the West Lake region and where the real Long Jin / Dragons Well Green Tea is grown, harvested and produced. Here we met a fantastic tea farmer and his family who indeed had some of the best quality Long Jin Green Tea. Timing is everything during harvest time as the tea quality changes quickly. We were able to buy the 1st and 2nd flush / picking and it was a real treat. Human hands mean love, and we could taste the hard work and pride in his superior green tea.
After the tea is picked and shade dried, the leaves are baked using this cauldron. Here lies the art of baking the leaves to bring out the full character of this delicious green tea.