#GongfuLife: Closer than You Imagined

Posted by Arthur Tong on 18th Nov 2016

You search far and wide but sometimes, you’ve got to remember to check back in. Like when you shuffle-step back to avoid a side-kick. Yes the evasion step is used to establish your own space but you still want to lightly hand-check the attacker’s ankle to feel and even leverage the energy so you can shuffle back in on the half-beat with an appropriate counter. Create the space, but come back.

Wall feature by my Aunt Tiona, made from the bottoms of old tea cartons

Wall feature by my Aunt Tiona, made from the bottoms of old tea cartons

On our recent trip to Anxi, Fujian (which we’ll give full coverage of in the next post), it wasn’t until our return to Hong Kong that we came to this realisation. Offhandedly, my aunt mentions that she just happens to work for a tea company as their tea room stylist and packaging designer. Further she reveals “oh, they also own a tea plantation in the Wuyi mountains.”

You can imagine my surprise. After months of calling favours to get us access to a mountain top village in Fujian, my aunt could’ve just taken us all this time! Wuyi Shan is on another side of Fujian and produces different teas to Anxi, but nevertheless, my long-sightedness had rendered me oblivious. In all the looking around and trying to create my own network, I forgot to shuffle back in.

And that wasn’t all.

She took us to her office/showroom one quiet Sunday in the industrial backstreets of Kwun Tong, Kowloon. In amongst the garment makers, electronics distributors and food factories, some obsolete others trading but on the brink, stood HKI Group – fashion designers, property investment and obscurely, tea marketers.

Through the dock , up the lift and through the dark glass doors laid the oasis. Inside HKI hq, each room whether it be reception, kitchen, boardroom, workstation area or product showroom were styled around the practice of gongfu tea taking. Poetry inspired by the “Divine Farmer”, wall display resourcefully made from old tea boxes and tea making artefacts laid purposefully about. My aunt was responsible for all the styling. This was in my family and I had not a clue.

Office reception, in the back is a framed picture made from pressed tea leaves

So there we stood, coupla kids in a candy store. Jaws agape and eyes wide as we made our way through walls of yixing pots to new fangled gadgets like automatic tea steepers and a commercial-grade tea syphon bar.

Aunt Tiona and I

The aftermath of all this continues to inspire as we lay out plans for our next foray into Fujian, this time Wuyi-style, with my aunt close in tow.