Friday, May 08, 2020

The friendly farmer of RuiFeng, Alishan

I don't know if it's an urban legend, but I still remember my management teacher tell us this story 28 years ago in business class: "A sales guy is on a business trip to a small town quite far away from his home. He arrives late afternoon while his business meeting is set on the next day. So, before checking in at his hotel, he goes to the local supermarket to make some purchases. At the cashier, he happens to help an older man pack his goods. And he even carries the bags of the old man and places them in the man's car while chatting with him in a friendly manner. The next day, the sales guy goes to meet his appointment, the president of a local plant. As he's rushed into the office, he recognizes the old guy he had helped the day before! He's the president and our sales guy had an easy time making his deal!"
Business is a human connection that runs on trust. It's the same if you're selling tea, cars, computers or your skills... So, 3 weeks ago, when I was looking for Jinxuan Oolong in Alishan, I had already met my regular tea farmers, but their teas failed to satisfy me. So, I decided to explore more tea farms. I stopped at an intersection and looked at a map when an old farmer (60+ years) stopped his truck and asked if I was lost and where I wanted to go. I told him I was looking for Jinxuan Oolong, but couldn't find any I liked. He said he didn't have any left, but would help me ask his friends around. And he invited to go to his nearby farm from where he would make some phone calls.
There, I really liked what I saw. Beautiful surroundings, well managed tea fields, a clean tea factory with a smart and young employee (who turned out to be the farmer's son). - At this point, I must point out that not all tea farms are as welcoming. In many cases, the work seems done by local gangsters: guys with large tattoos chewing on betel nuts and very rude manners. That's because it's a very tough and exhausting job. These guys can be very nice to customers, but I find it hard to connect! -
So, it turns out that despite the farmer's connections, he couldn't find any Jinxuan for me that day. This actually turned out to be a blessing, because it made me consider a farmer from a lower altitude plantation and his Yiguang Shan Jinxuan tasted better than those I tried in Alishan!
When I returned to Alishan to select Qingxin Oolong this week, I paid a new visit to this friendly farmer in RuiFeng. He remembered me and let me taste the Oolongs he had available. I really liked this April 25th harvested Qingxin Oolong. It's a batch that the farmer will submit to a tea competition for Alishan Oolongs. It's a very sweet, clean and straightforward high mountain Oolong. It's easy to drink and easy to brew, making it very suitable for beginners and daily brewers. And I think that the trust was quite mutual, because I also liked the price he proposed! That's why it is my best value high mountain Oolong ever at 7 USD for 25 gr or 35 USD for 150 gr!
It's always a good feeling to return a kindness to friendly people!

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