all photographs by Mary Lou Heiss / Tea Trekker Copyright 2019 ©
It has been 21 years since we first traveled to China to source tea, a new adventure that we had long anticipated after 26 years selling tea.
Since that first experience we have returned to China many times, exploring the tea and tea production methods in the many different tea producing regions of China. Just as China is comprised of many ethnicities and cultures, there is no one type of Chinese tea. Ask for ‘tea’ in the different regions of China and you will find both the taste of the tea and the tea-drinking customs to be as unique as the people who live there and the geography of the particular place.
We continued our tea travels to include Japan, Korea, and Taiwan as well, to source tea and continually expand our knowledge of tea and tea culture in each of these mesmerizing countries. Tea as we have experienced it in East Asia truly does express the soul of each place.
Our photographs represent a blend of all those travels and experiences. We welcome you to spend some time with these images and hope that they help to clarify why it is that we are obsessed with hand-crafted, traditional tea, and why intensively-cultivated, commercial tea is not found in our tea shop.
Note what the tea workers are doing in the images, and imagine a tea factory filled with highly skilled workers who are knowledgeable about every step of tea production. It takes quite a bit of man and woman power to successfully produce premium tea.
Some of these photographs have appeared in our books: The Story of Tea and The Tea Enthusiasts Handbook. Others are shown only here. Our photographs have been taken by Mary Lou, a lifelong photobug since she purchased her first ‘grown-up’ 35mm camera in college. Some of the images from our earliest trips to eastern China were taken with Mary Lou’s very same, trusty Minolta 35mm film camera – back when we would take an extra carry-on bag for all of her film (in those bulky, heavy, lead-lined bags that would protect her film from the x-ray screening!). More recent images were taken with several upgrades of digital cameras, and that now-empty extra carry-on bag allows us to return with special tea and one-of-a kind teawares.
We hope you enjoy these glimpses into the lives of two dedicated tea trekkers and some intimate photos of where our amazing tea comes from!
Visit Tea Trekker’s Photo Gallery to view all of the image galleries
or follow these links to view an individual gallery: