Wan Ling Tea House Team
The Wan Ling Tea House team is a mix of full time and part time tea lovers. The Shanghai Tea House is run by Wan Ling and Amy who are on hand seven days a week. All of our website, mail order, UK events and European wholesale is operated by a part time team along with a large number of supporters who we are indebted to for their time, input and patience.
To learn a little more about us we have some short biographies.
Wan Ling, was fortunate that her family supported her artistic dreams, a little to the annoyance of her sister. Although uncommon in her village, Wan Ling studied arts and music in AnXi and then later in Xiamen. Her time in XiaMen encouraged her to study English at the language college there. During her studies she made many friends including with her Canadian teachers, who were deeply influential.
After a spell in the South of China, Wan Ling moved to Shanghai and worked for XiaMen HuaXiang Tea Company in their NanJing West Road shop. Her time gave her the chance to meet an exceptionally wide range of people and build a reputation among her customers for being a truly passionate tea lover.
It wasn't long till Wan Ling decided to take a leap of faith and open her own shop. With the support of friends in Shanghai she opened her first shop in the antiques market on BeiJing Road, very near to JingAn Temple. Since then Wan Ling Tea House has moved twice, including a brief time on ChangHua Road, near one of Shanghai's other temples, YuFu Shi or Jade Buddah Temple, to it's current home in the French Concession on YongJia Road.
Wan Ling favourite tea is of course her Tie Guan Yin Oolong teas which her sister and her carefully select each year. That said Wan Ling enjoys most good quality teas. A tea that has won her heart since Huang Mei sourced an excellent batch in 2010 in Keemun black tea or Qimen hong cha (red tea).
When James graduated from University, working for a Dorset Telecommunication company, he was afforded the chance to travel widely. From wide selections of teas in Scandinavian hotels and beautiful Parisian tea houses, to sweet mint tea whilst smoking sheesha pipes in Saudi Arabia, James's passion and interest continued to grow. His work saw him visit India and China regularly. It was during his time in China that became increasingly fascinated in the language.
Whilst working from his company's office in Plaza 66 on NanJing Road, James used walk back to his hotel, one of his regular stops was a charming little tea shop. Not only was this a great place to try the many different Chinese teas and pick up gifts for friends back in England, there was a lovely girl who spoke great English, but was very happy and patient to start teaching him basic Chinese.
James's work, relocated him back to Europe for a couple of year but the tea shop lady and he kept in touch. By fortune, James was again asked to work in China. Fate, luck or whatever you call it, meant that James ended up in Shanghai and love blossomed with Wan Ling, China and Chinese tea! A real case of Tea Lovers and East meets West and falls in love.
With Wan Ling working seven days a week, James spent a lot of time in the tea shop and the antiques market, developing his knowledge of Chinese culture, history, arts and tea.
James is fan of many teas and his choice is influenced heavily by the weather. Summer is very much Darjeeling, Tie Guan Yin and Sheng PuEr whereas the winter you will find him with rock teas, heavier black teas such as the excellent Dian Hong or a Shu PuEr.
Tom is often at our Dorset Tea Events, helping out with sales and serving in the Wan Ling Tea Garden at Deans Court.
Tom is a big fan of Tie Guan Yin, though his cups regularly feature Darjeeling, Earl Grey, Nilgiri and an ever growing variety of other teas.
Emma is a big Earl Grey, Darjeeling and black tea fan. Loves the occasional lunch time Tie Guan Yin, though any later means a late night as she is a little caffeine sensitive!
Favourite teas. Still avid UK milk and no sugars girl. Her favourite Chinese tea is QingXiang Tie Guan Yin although you can often find a gongfu cup of green tea ready and waiting by the kettle.
Clare and her soon to be husband Dan, who is a big speciality tea fan, have been enjoying the tea tasting cum training sessions that Wan Ling has done with them.
Clare is a fantastic addition to the team and has improved the order processing and shipping times hugely. Working closely with James we Clare will be dealing with all Wan Ling Tea House mail order and wholesale customers.
TzuLing is often on hand at our Dorset tea events to offer tea tastings and run our tea ceremony classes. TzuLing is always keen to share her growing knowledge of gongfu tea and passion for Chinese tea. If you are lucky enough to be in Dorset come find Wan Ling Tea House at one our tea events and have a chat with our TaiWan tea lady.
TzuLing, drinks a wide range of teas though has a particular love for PuEr and Oolongs.
HuangMei is a key source of many of Wan Ling Tea House's AnHui teas including our superb 2010 QiMen Hong Cha red tea as well as our TaiPing HouKui. Her local presence means she can travel directly to the local markets and has a good network of contacts with local farmers.
A trip to Xiao Ying and Wan Jun's shop in the French Concession antiques market is a wonder. Rare antiques carefully displayed with a bird flying freely in the shop whilst someone plays traditional Chinese instruments. Tea is poured from aged YiXing teapots into exquisite antique tea cups through a solid 18ct gold filter!
Xiao Ying and Wan Jun are big PuEr and Oolong fans. Often with some rare TaiWan Oolongs given to them buy visiting antique collectors.
Amy is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about Chinese history and culture. During her time at our Shanghai Tea Shop, Amy has learnt a great deal about tea culture, developing her gongfu tea techniques and the many nuances of Chinese tea.
Like most people who meet Wan Ling, Amy is a big Tie Guan Yin fan. Amy also enjoys HuangMei's Qimen hong cha and many PuEr teas.
My first real introduction to the world of fresh, quality, loose leaf tea was only a few short years ago. In 2009 my wife Nicky, daughter Natasha and I set off on a trip to the UK to spend time with Nicky's family over the Christmas period. It was on this trip that I was fortunate enough to catch up with Nicky's cousin James and his girlfriend Wan Ling. Wan Ling (the founder of Wan Ling Tea House) had brought along her GongFu tea set and a large range of amazing Chinese teas, Needless to say, tea was enjoyed and explored at every opportune moment. I was introduced to an amazing array of taste and aroma that, prior to this point, I would in no way have associated with the humble cuppa tea as we know it in Australia.
A subsequent trip to China to celebrate James and Wan Ling's wedding a few years later, where an amazing variety of superb quality teas were consumed, was to be the tipping point with me. This was the point in time where tea and tea culture turned from a simple interest for me, into a burning passion.
Until this point in time my past life experiences with tea had been less than invigorating and I had really only been partaking in my own home grown herbal brews for some years. From my herbal blends, fresh from the garden, I could see, smell, taste and feel the life within the brew. They could help me to relax, to sleep, to invigorate, to heal and even develop dependant on their make up. What I was now learning with my introduction to tea is that tea is also a herb, and a very powerful one at that. In its fresh state tea is invigorating, calming, can focus yet relax, its medicinal health giving properties have been widely acclaimed for thousands of years. The range of flavours and aroma across the infinitely broad spectrum of teas is all attained by tea makers with umpteen generations of skill and knowledge through simple processes of manipulating the plants own defences.... what's not to be loved and admired about tea and the thousands of years worth of culture and tradition that accompany it? What a shame that we in the western world have been duped into believing that the stale, washed out, bitter grass we are fed is a true representation of the real world of tea.
I hope you can share our journey as we learn and explore the depths of tea, its culture and its people.
I loved it so much I joined the company.. :)
Gary runs and operates Wan Ling Tea House Australia based in Illawarra, you can visit the local Australian Online Tea Shop website here.