“Don’t tell people how you did that!” or “Don’ t reveal your secrets “ is what we often hear our friends say when I tell them what I’m going to write for this next blog post.
From the start, this journey of launching and running Man Cha has not been normal and heavily against the grain, so I say “Why shouldn’t we tell people how we did it?” I believe that at least people can understand some of the reasoning behind our NEW product. It’s not a guaranteed way to success or the best way to make a new product, but it’s the most honest way we have gone about it. So here goes….
Mrs. Man Cha and I find most of our inspiration from traveling. We adore traveling and from our travels last year we went to source tea in China, Taiwan and Japan. Each country has exceptional tea and we believe each country does a type of tea better than the others. For example no country can match China for its Jasmine Pearls and Puer or Taiwan’s exceptional high mountain Oolongs and definitely Japan’s Sencha. With the suggestion from several customers we thought why don’t we put all of our discoveries and some of our best teas all in one box. So the seed was sown.
The tea range
Our criteria for the tea range was to feature at least one tea from each of the 3 countries we traveled to last year. We also wanted to showcase the spectrum of teas from Green, Oolong, Black to fermented teas.
We already have a loyal following for our Fujian Jasmine Pearls, so this tea had to be to in the selection for green teas. That’s an easy one off the list. Next we chose a Japanese Sencha because it was only after visiting the tea maker in Japan and sampling fresh Sencha we fully understood what the “umami” taste that Japanese people would speak about. That’s our two Green teas decided.
For our Oolong range we simply had to feature our Forever Spring, since it is so rare to find female tea makers let alone ones who have been making tea in the family for four generations. In all honesty they make some of the finest and purest Oolongs we have tasted in Taiwan.
Another rare find and one of the first teas to make me understand how serious the Taiwanese take their tea is the Oriental Beauty. It is sourced from Beipu, one of the original areas where Oriental Beauty was first made. Its honey like smell, complex muscat flavours and all natural way of production really stood out for me on my first Taiwan tea-sourcing trip. Sentimentally it was one of the first premium teas that I wanted people in the west to appreciate.
For Taiwanese black tea, although originally produced for the Japanese market over a hundred years ago, we only recently discovered a varietal made in Taiwan. Red Jade was developed by the Taiwan Tea Research and Extension Station (TTES) when they mixed a Burmese Assam tea cultivar with a wild Taiwan tea found in the Sun Moon Lake area. This beautiful marriage of black tea gives distinctly smooth date and cinnamon infusions with traces of peppermint.
Finally to finish our selection we had to showcase our distinct Aged Puer. No other country apart from China can make Puer and its medicinal properties are magical for digestion. This tea like fine wine simply gets better and tastes better with age, which we thought was a good way to end our selection.
We had the pleasure to work with our designer again, who helped us with our original logo and branding. It’s always a pleasure and definitely much easier to work with people who totally understand our inspirations then converts them into the most beautiful designs. So we told him we wanted to continue the elements from our original packaging, like our Japanese Siegaiha wave pattern. We love the idea of using elements or traditions from the past so that it is not forgotten in the present.
Another small element was adding batch numbers to our box. This way we can keep track of the number of boxes we sell and also record who packaged the box. For example if you find 1565/… it would be my batch number and this was also the year my primary school was founded.
On the back of our new box we used an illustration done by a local Hong Kong illustrator, who helped us illustrate another concept in the past. Unfortunately that idea hasn’t come to fruition yet, but we thought we shouldn’t waste such a beautiful illustration that describes what we are all about so distinctly.