Why not flowers?

Why not flowers?
May 30, 2019 Leo Kwan
In Perspectives, Tea Log

No artsy designs

When I was teaching the visual arts in the 1980’s in a prestigious girls’ college in Hong Kong, Lydia* used to be one of the more dedicated students. A few weeks ago I was doing some WhatsApp broadcast for a political cause and she replied to invite for a reunion lunch.

Her daughter is in college now and she has not done any art or design work for decades. She actually did only a few years of her trade and has since taken up an administration career in some semi-government agency. Maybe that was why she was eager to see more “artsy” elements in my online teashop and my name card. She was definitely quite disappointed on the very plain approach I have in everything. She even said I should use more different angles and setups for the tealeaves mugshots. 

Blossoming tea

She went on to imply that I should carry fancy looking teas with blooming flowers and more colourful petals, telling me how glorious the large marble of tea opens up like a flower in the bubble wine glass in promotions she saw.

Indeed, it was the gimmick I started using in the early 2000’s to draw attention to leaf tea. Such “blooming” tea and other beads with flowers were the highest turnover products in my previous luxurious tea brand.

I hated to see what was a gimmick that was intended for another cause became an end in itself. 

TeaHong.com has actually been developed with a concept as far away as possible from that brand. 

No flowers, no gimmick, no fancy packaging, no association with other luxurious products. 

I have come to a point in the realm of fine teas to recognise that any of those things have become disrespectful of these dry leaves that is the fruit grown out of a gift of Nature and the sweat of the masterful human hands. 

That is why you see no blooming teas, no “Tropical Delights”, nor “Amazon Forrest Blend”, not even English Breakfast in my collection. 

Flowers and M&Ms not included

No flowers, no dried fruit bits, no additives, no nothing. Not even blends. Just tea. Single batch, single harvest, single origin traditional teas.

The equivalent will be seeing no M&M’s, or Kinder Eggs, or Mars etc in a fine chocolatier. 

On that point, one of our youngest customers is a 14 years-old. He even has his own tea blog. If he could graduate from gimmicky tea products into real tea, so can my teashop. Over two decades ago, I gave up a lucrative consultant business to enter the tea trade trying to do the right thing. I may as well do what I truly believe in.

I am but a courier and messenger

Those customers who have followed my tea career know: teas at TeaHong.com now are even more premium quality, but at much better value than before at my former brand. Through the years I have a change of heart, or rather coming to terms with my value system. This reflects in what I do and how I do it.

That is why you see no fancy packaging, no “artsy” design in our online shop. That is not to say we have not put efforts in coming up with the best designs conditions allow. They just follow a way of humility. The wonder of a great tea presents itself in the unassuming look of some dry leaves. I am but a courier and messenger of its contents.

Lydia may not read this post, but I hope others who want to see some artsy flair from this previously flamboyant artist designer would now understand why the understatement of how things are presented here in Tea Hong. The artist is still inside, and who knows, maybe one day he can find time outside of the busy operation to make crazy art again.


* Pseudonym to protect the identity of my student.

Flowers in pots, in vase and in the boots

I have always loved flowers

Postscript

I have always loved flowers. However, not the way people put it in use decorating taste-unworthy teas. Flowers are great in Nature, in the fields, in the garden, in pots, in the vase, in the pages, and in purpose specific formulae for decoctions.