Not having planned on purchasing 10 kg of Che Tuyet San, Hugo and I were now sharing the cramped back seat with it. After Suoi Giang, our next destination was to be the Tân Huong Tea Cooperative in Thai Nguyên managed by Mrs. Hiêp.
Although, our jovial driver, Mr. Thành, decided on a surprise stop. He would turn a street corner, stop to ask for directions, then make a U-Turn. He did this several times in a row. We were starting to wonder where in the world we were going and when will we ever arrive to destination.
We were indeed pleasantly surprised. He brought us to visit a tea plantation in La Bang, owned by Mrs. Hai family. One of their teas won the Bup Vang Award (Golden Sprout Award) at the Thai Nguyên Tea Competition this year. She brought us three of her highest grade teas to sample. They were indeed interesting teas. Two of her three teas had this hint of tomatoes to them. As we were sharing our love of tea, we made her sample a Chinese green tea, the Anji Bai Cha. As she saw the leaves and tasted the infusion, she enthusiastically interrogated us on the transformation method of the Anji Bai Cha. She wanted to try to replicate its needle-like shape. It was a delight to see how her eyes lit up as we were telling her more about it. We promised to send her by email what we knew of its transformation process as soon as we got back home.
Since we already bought teas from Tân Huong Cooperative in Thai Nguyên, we settled for buying 500 g of each type of teas for our personal use. We then proceeded to visit her tea plantation.
Half the day had gone by as we unsuspectingly headed out to our final destination where another surprise awaited us.