In October, I visited the small Chinese-Thai community of Mae Salong, in Northern Thailand. I went with a good friend from Chiang Rai. With his friends, we visited a family that owns and runs a small-scale tea farm and store.
The morning after we arrived, we rode in the back of their pick-up truck to the farm-land, where we helped harvest tea, picking leaves for hours.
After weighing and bagging the leaves, we returned to the store, where we air-dried the tea, then processed and rolled the leaves. Two days later, our tea was packaged and ready to enjoy.
The tea we made, Cha Kow Hom (“Fragrant Rice Tea”) is an oolong with that has notes that remind me of buttered popcorn or freshly ground peanut butter. It’s so good, and I love that I know it was home-grown and hand-picked by me and my new friends in Northern Thailand.
– Bree O’Keane is the International Program Coordinator of the Khon Kaen Education Initiative, a grassroots alternative and sustainable education project in northeastern Thailand. Living in Thailand on-and-off since 2003, Bree has developed a strong community of friends and family in the region. Resulting from her interest in tea and inspired by working with Samovar Tea Lounge, Bree returned to Thailand last May with the hopes of sharing her interests, experiences, and belief that tea unites cultures and individuals. An idea for a tea house/community space was born and rapidly grew to fruition. Bree has just returned to Khon Kaen and Wong Nam Cha (the tea house).