Qi Fine Teas consists of two China certified Senior Tea Masters/Senior Tea Quality Judges, an organic chemist/regional Chinese cuisine chef, a physician/bar owner and a European real estate investor/engineer.
The tea company grew from our original plan for a rural Chinese restaurant to introduce our favorite foods from parts of China that are quite underrepresented in the US. The journey lasted longer than expected—17 continuous years living in China scouring over 400 villages, 215 cities, 3900 Chinese restaurant kitchens, 27 ethnic groups and working as chef in a number of Chinese restaurants along the way. We found an unusual link in our journey—regions that produced the finest teas were also the home to our favorite foods, often the same extended families producing both. With the vastness and diversity of Chinese food and teas this could have gone on for another 50 years, as one always seems to get that "just want to learn one more thing" feeling. We met countless chefs, tea growers, street food vendors, farmers, fishermen, and home cooks along the way that graciously taught us about food and tea. Two of us spent over 6 years to earn both Senior Tea Master and Senior Tea Quality Judge certifications, which are the highest available in China. Another one of us picked up two master chef awards in China. We are passionate and committed to what we do.
Our list of teas is on the shorter side. Value and excellence are what we look for in our teas no matter the price level. Yes, the best teas tend to be higher-priced, but all of our teas are impressive for their cost, otherwise they don’t make the cut. While we started domestic tea sales in China years ago our plan was to open a retail store in the US, which is exactly what we did in the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon.
A few closing words—almost all the growers we work with uphold or exceed an organic standard, though only 2 are certified organic. The expense is far too high for most family tea farms. We continue to partner with the same growers every year, personally traveling to the tea mountains in Chaozhou, Yunnan, Guizhou, and Fujian inspecting each year’s harvest to select the season’s best. All of our tea is hand-picked and hand-finished, usually by the family themselves. Most is from the first spring harvest on the high rural mountains. High mountain tea is slower growing than lower mountain tea and slower growing means more nutrient, fragrance and flavor molecules in the tea.
And yes. our restaurant is coming soon...