How We Source Our Tea - A Spotlight on our 3 Biggest Suppliers

How We Source Our Tea - A Spotlight on our 3 Biggest Suppliers

Mar 27th 2023

Over the last decade, we’ve formed dozens of close relationships with tea farmers, tea masters, and ceramicists across China.

So not only is everything in our online store sourced straight from these producers…

But every purchase you make directly supports their small businesses and family operations too.

So today, we wanted to put a spotlight on 3 of our biggest collaborators and partners. Without whom, West China Tea wouldn’t exist.

Li Shulin 李樹林 and Cai Junqiong 蔡俊琼 - Based in Nannuo Mountain and Man Le Village in Yunnan Province, China. This husband and wife team have been producing tea for over 30 years. They are masters in their craft and are able to produce dozens of different variations of Pu’er, White Tea, Red Tea, and various herbal teas.

One of our greatest accomplishments as a business was holding a GoFundMe for Li’s family after a fire in 2021 destroyed their home, vehicle, tea processing equipment, and a 20 year collection of tea in storage for aging. The $22,000+ generated allowed Li’s family to relocate and restart their business as tea producers.

Now, they’re back in full swing and they’re the primary suppliers for our West China Tea Branded Bings (keep an eye out for some new coins and bings in the coming months).

>>>Discover all teas sourced from Li Shu Lin 李樹林 in Nannuo Mountain and Man Le Village here

A Long - Chen Longquan, nicknamed A Long, is a fourth generation tea master based in Chaozhou, Guangdong province. He specializes in 炭焙 tanbei, the charcoal roasting process that finishes traditional oolongs.

So-Han met A Long on what he refers to as a “Legend of Zelda-type quest” to find an oolong that he’d heard rumors of called Lei Gong Da 雷公打 “Struck by (Thunder God) Lei Gong”. Also known as Lei Da Chai 雷打柴, this cultivar is propagated from a single mother plant that was struck by lightning and survived.

After searching for this elusive tea throughout Chaozhou, Chao’an, and the Phoenix Mountains, So-Han spotted a small tea shop in the Chaozhou Ancient Town where all the guests drinking tea were elders. The master, a young man, was serving tea, and when So-Han sat down one of the customers said he used to drink tea with A Long’s father and grandfather. So-Han asked if he’d heard of the lightning-struck tea and he not only had heard of it, he had it.

A Long is now our primary (but not only) source of Phoenix oolongs. He continues the tradition of charcoal-roasting more than a dozen cultivars of Phoenix Dancong 单枞茶 “Single Bush” oolong, as well as Tieguanyin 铁观音 “Iron Goddess of Mercy” oolong from Anxi.

>>>Explore all tea sourced by A Long in Chaozhou, Guangdong Province

Lin Yaobin 林耀斌 - Along with A Long, Lin Yaobin is one of our primary sources of Phoenix mountain teas - not only oolongs but red teas made from Dancong oolong cultivars.

Lin’s family has been involved in growing and processing tea for six generations, and he both grows and processes tea. Lin specializes in medium- and low-oxidized dancong oolongs, which he roasts first with electric heat and then with charcoal to finish.

Not only are Lin’s red teas, Black Phoenix and Rum Raisin, two of our perennially-favorite red teas at West China Tea, he also grows and processes rare cultivars including Hidden from the Gods, which was developed by his family and belongs solely to them, and Wulong Oolong, the ancestor of the oolong cultivars, as well as Amanita, its direct descendant, which gave rise to Shui Xian and all of the subsequent Shui Xian-derived oolongs

>>>Explore all teas sourced from Lin Yao Bin 林耀斌 in Phoenix Mountains

We hope you enjoy.

Let us know if you have any questions about our products or suppliers.