I just went to the Hong Kong International Tea Fair yesterday. It’s been a few years since I’ve been to a tea expo, and this one was a bit different from when I went to the one in Shanghai during the height of the puerh boom. Partly perhaps also because it’s Hong Kong, the kind of tea merchants who were here were much more international, and also quite diverse in their offerings. Most of the sellers were, of course, from China, but very often from provinces that are lesser known, such as Guizhou or Hunan. The selection of green tea was very diverse, whereas the more popular things, such as various types of oolong from Fujian, were fewer. As for puerh, there were a smattering of makers there from the big factories, such as Menghai or Haiwan, but even Xiaguan was not there. There were some producers from Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka, and other places as well.
I think much of this was a product of the fact that many of the better known companies or types of tea simply don’t need the exposure at a tea fair, so they’re better off not coming and paying the expo fees instead of actually showing up. For the lesser known, this is a great way to get some exposure that they otherwise won’t have.
I saw a few things that I know relatively little about. The first is a company called Zealong, which makes oolong in New Zealand in the Taiwanese style. The taste of the tea is very clean and crisp, and reminds me of decent Taiwanese high mountain oolong. The company, according to their reps, was started by someone from Taiwan, and now has a few different teas. It was interesting, although not terribly cheap. I can imagine some place like New Zealand growing some interesting teas though.
I also met two Korean tea makers, and bought some of their products. Korean tea tends to be green tea of various types, but one of them also made a white tea that had higher levels of oxidation, much akin to something like a baimudan with some age. I bought some for personal consumption. More on those later.
Another stop in Beijing before heading home on this trip. Seeing some old tea friends from up north should be pretty interesting. Stay tuned.