Actually, it’s a funny story. It happened in Taiwan during the Japanese Ruling Era. It is said that there was a tea farmer who was very lazy and did not take good care of his tea. So his farm was seriously affected by the green fly. At that time, people didn’t know what green fly could do. Then in one summer, he made those affected tea leaves into tea and sold to the market. And accidentally, those leaves were welcomed by the consumers who paid a very good price. When he came back, he shared his experience with other farmers. They did not believe him, and said he was “Ponfeng,” which means “bluffing” in Chinese. From that moment, this tea was given another name, and called Ponfeng tea.
When I was traveling from Xinyang in China recently, my translator talked about integration of tea horse trails with everything, what ever I did. I realized it is worthwhile doing so, even if it means inventing some stories now and then. Ever since, we have been trying to improve the look of tea produced in India – whether by Ponfeng or by grit – but always with a story. Tealet’s recent Tearace and its presentation during World Tea Expo is another feather in the cap. Now I am determined to have a story attached to everything, whether it be Mineral Springs or Doke.
Xi Fang Luo Chan – tea from the land of Buddha – can be the right name for Doke. The presence of ancient pottery pieces as many as two feet deep in the soils of Doke is the telltale sign of a two thousand year old civilization which thrived on the banks of Doke. Neha’s journey can start from there, while mine is going to end now in Yunnan – the central land (Zhong Guo) of tea.
George Jage very cleverly wove the story of Queen Mary with the Oscars of tea, which is yet another journey of its own kind and will make history of sorts. Some time ago, the Tea Board of India’s tea show on Kutty Shark in New York was yet another story which can be perpetuated again. It did not get that much popularity at the time due to very short notice allotted for advertisement, so George can hold the next World Tea Expo there, on that ship.
For the long or short of it, we have to have the stories and story tellers. The Maharajah of Indian tea, with a cup of masala chai, is the tea culture of India and should be the feature added to the tea shows all over the world in the coming years. If Hunan Tea Company can do it in Long Beach, or Cai Jun can do it in Simao, why cannot someone from India do it in Paris, London, and New York? These legendary fashion hubs of the world are slowly being replaced by Beijing, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The fact remains that tea as a healthy beverage is finding better markets everywhere, replacing legendary Coca Cola – the largest ever single brand of the beverage world with the longest history. Maybe Oprah’s Choice by Teavana will fall short of the mileage comparatively.