Jewel in the Crown

November 30th, 2011

The sun set on the British Empire some time ago….and Hong Kong was one of the last “jewels in the crown” so to speak.  In the “old” days it had a piratical air to it…a sense of raucous fun as well as a palpable sense of danger if you strayed off the beaten path.  Not so today….as the sun sets over HK it sets over a secure, vibrant, safe and business savvy city.  It is still an exciting place to be because you sense that you are on the frontier of growth and intrepid expansion.  I walked around the “old “part of town and it was full of bars catering to young upwardly mobile professionals…..not sailors looking for a good time.  Nowadays the container ships unload and turn around in less than 10 hours…hardly time for a modern day Matelot to slip ashore to make merry. 

Jewel in the Crown by CooperTeaMaster
Jewel in the Crown, a photo by CooperTeaMaster on Flickr.

as the sun sets over HK it sets over a secure, vibrant, safe and business savvy city.

Mind the Dragons

November 18th, 2011

I was recently in China….actually Hong Kong, but that is China now….


It is amazing to me how the cultures of nations define buildings and there is no mistaking a Feng Shui structure.  I am told it is a Chinese art and science developed over 3,000 years ago that shows how to balance the energies of any given space to assure the good health and good fortune for people who live in the building.  Apparently the large spaces you see are for the dragons to fly through the buildings unhindered, and not disturb the Chi or energy of the building….


Whatever the explanation…it does make for in interesting shot….personally, I would prefer to live in the smaller buildings in front of the high rises…but then again they don’t have holes in them so how do they cope with the Dragons?

Mind the Dragons by CooperTeaMaster
Mind the Dragons, a photo by CooperTeaMaster on Flickr.

A Delectable Treat

November 14th, 2011

I have received comments that my blogs are being missed….!  Well thank you kind readers…we shall resume, perhaps not as frequently as before but certainly more often than the last 6/ 9 months….!

So where to start?  In my world TASTE is EVERYTHING.  I make my living by tasting, and tea tasting is a passion for me, and the sensory joy of flavors and aromas literally “make my day”.

Thus I resume my blog with this extraordinary taste sensation. It was prepared in Naples, it was delicious, savory, aromatic, chewy yet fresh, laden with goodness and at this point I am beginning to feel hungry just describing the emotions I experienced consuming this dish.


You at least dear reader can enjoy the picture!!!!

A Delectable Treat by CooperTeaMaster
A Delectable Treat, a photo by CooperTeaMaster on Flickr.

5k Pajama Jog!

August 1st, 2011
5k Pajama Jog! by CooperTeaMaster
5k Pajama Jog!, a photo by CooperTeaMaster on Flickr.

Cooper Tea is teaming up to assist Sleep Tight Colorado and providing the participants with fresh Tropical Green Tea!
Sign Up Today because everyone deserves a warm nights sleep!

Visit for more info!

Rob Carefull’s wonderfully sculpted bronze bust

July 28th, 2011

Here I am with the artist, creator & visionary behind the bronze which so stunningly sits next to me.

An immortal sculpture … good looking too

July 28th, 2011

A schoolboy friend, and by that I mean someone that I went to school with when I was 9 years old in Kenya, has taken up sculpting in his retirement.  Talents he certainly never showed at school have emerged!  A group of old school friends got together through the miracle of the web and over the past few years we have made sure that we meet up regularly.

This year Rob came to the Masters Golf tournament along with “the gang” and asked if he could do a bust in bronze of me.  I accepted!  (I mean how often does one get an offer like that?)  Much debate was then entered into among my friends as to whether the bronze should include my hat!  At first Rob was against the idea but he finally agreed that it probably was part of my persona.  Sculpting a hat in bronze is an art in itself it turns out.  The result of Robs labors were unveiled this week while Sandy and I were in England.  Admiration to the fellow who may capture my character...

The likeness is startling to me.  Rob has captured me in my opinion..and you can judge for yourself in these pictures….in the long and winding road that is one’s life, you just never know what the next corner will bring.  Thank you Rob, my heirs will know me, a rare gift to be able to pass on to generations yet unborn……..

...true to the way nature made me!

20:20 Vision doesn’t promise anything

June 6th, 2011

They must manage risk to the best of their ‘educated’ ability, but I think the resilience towards risk lives beyond the office.

Risk is an idea - similar in operation to fear, and to those who follow their passion they do not get held back by mere ideas.

Exemplified by the amount of categories in the E&Y Judging Criteria, Entrepreneurs must manage so much risk that to be kept up at night may prove fatal to the business.

Entrepreneurs’ Commonality: Risk Taking

June 6th, 2011

Some have a vision of the future.
Entrepreneurs turn it into reality.

Do you sleep well at night?

Do any fears hold you back?

Would you rather be lucky or good?

It is of my opinion the above three questions guide entrepreneurs to successes of varying degrees.  In my following story I illustrate how.

In 2009 I won the  Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Rocky Mountain region. Me after a well rested night

It was my third appearance and I guess the third time is lucky!  I went on to the national finals and lost out to the foreign language self taught program, Rosetta Stone.  Not to worry, he was a worthy winner.  And this year I was asked to be a judge for the Rocky Mountain region, which has now been expanded to include a few  more western states.  I accepted the honor but little did I know how much work was going to be involved…

The first thing I received was a HUGE book containing all the background information of the contenders; newspaper, magazine & blog articles as well as company financial information!  And what a bunch they were…brilliant in their various endeavors and concepts, some large, some small companies - but all of them innovative, creative and “out there” in the world of risk.  Fascinating reading but time consuming and tiring holding onto the book that weighed about 8 lbs….Then  I was given a web site to view all the financial information which I then had to correlate with the various companies.  That involved a lot of back and forth and I began to feel like a new MBA who has been given the task of analyzing 60 or so companies for acquisition!  I could only  handle 6 or 7 at a time as after a while the numbers and the companies just started to meld together and become a jumble of facts.  So I broke up the work with days off in-between.

What became apparent as I read through all of these documents was the commonality of risk taking.

I suppose it is one of the basic premises of being an entrepreneur .  So I began to develop a series of questions for the actual interviews I was obliged to conduct, and my first question was :

WHAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT?  I was not expecting indigestion to be an answer and nor was it .  It seemed that not much kept entrepreneurs up at night at all — unless it was an all night party.  Almost every answer to this question was greeted by a wry smile and a response along the lines of “NOT MUCH”…it seems that perennial risk takers sleep easy at night…and if you don’t then you will be unable to cope with the pressure that each morning brings - as you head back to your start up….

The next question  I chose to use was ‘WOULD YOU RATHER BE LUCKY OR GOOD?” because it is my experience that LUCK has a HUGE amount of impact on success or failure.  Its all timing and invention and concept but there has to be that moment of “good fortune” attached to it.  At least that has been my experience and I even have a mantra that goes along the lines of “ I would rather be lucky than good”.

So I was surprised when the majority of those I spoke to said that they would rather be good.  The only response I could have to that desire is “Good Luck!”

Then I looked at each company founder and executive that I had to, developed a series of independent questions related directly to their company - and without any reservation each individual knew his business.  Inside and Out!

So at the end of this entire process what did I learn?  I found that entrepreneurs come in different shapes and sizes and ages but ALL are passionate about their idea and what they do.  They were all are true believers and their tolerance for risk is off the charts.  To them risk is just as irrelevant as fear.  Show me fear..let me touch it.  You cant!!  Fear is inside  your head…it is not tangible…it is there - OK, but to an entrepreneur with a dream it is irrelevant.  They sleep well at night and some of them choose to be lucky.  The truth is in my opinion that they are all good at what they do…so choosing to be lucky as well is a “no brainer”….and finally, it is NOT about the money.  Money appears to be a way of “keeping score”  - it’s about taking your idea and making it a success in the market place…the rewards that come from that may include money (lots of it in fact) but to the entrepreneur that is not the most important feature.  To the Venture Capitalist its all about the money…but that’s another story.

So endeth this blog!

Silver Tips White Tea

April 14th, 2011
Silver Tips White Tea by CooperTeaMaster
Silver Tips White Tea, a photo by CooperTeaMaster on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
The brilliance and delicacy of the silver tips is emphasized by the labor which it requires…30 minutes it took her to reach such yield..

White Tea Defined By Industry

April 14th, 2011

Original work of mine published April 2006, Tea & Coffee Trade Journal

There is a form of Camellia Sinensis that reigns as one of the world’s greatest teas, and that is white tea.Recently, it has experienced a surge of interest and demand that has propelled the grade into the forefront of tea news.Yet, little is really known about this unique product.

What is white tea? Answer: It is the bud of the tea bush, then perhaps the bud and one leaf, or maybe the bud and two leaves, which will then depend on the season it was picked and the country of origin. Then again, not all tea producing countries can make white tea.

If all of this sounds confusing, let me add to that confusion by saying that what is true is that white tea was first harvested during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) in the Zhenghe, Jianyang, and Fuding counties of the Fujian province. It is also one of the rarest and most expensive teas in the world. However, if this is so, then why are there boxes on sale for fewer than five dollars? Well, if it’s too good to be true, then it probably isn’t all white tea in the box.

Then, what is the standard for white tea? There isn’t one, and that’s the problem The Tea Association of the U.S. thought it would be a good idea to establish a definition to protect the integrity of one of the world’s great teas. They conducted a survey among their sister associations to help define the white tea segment. Responses came from around the globe with three organizations strongly in favor of a traditional definition, two leaning in that direction, one suggesting we stay out of the fray, and 11 favoring a new definition that ‘white tea’ should be a process, as opposed to an origin.

Here are the growing pains of a ‘category.’ Currently, there are 600-800 metric tons of white teas produced each year worldwide. The Fujian province can increase production to 3000 metric tons within two years, and of course, other countries can produce ‘white teas’ as well.

Everyone is looking at white teas’ potential, but no one likes the price or availability. Consistency and seasonality are also an issue. When buyers need small quantities of white tea, this is not a problem. Trouble begins when buyers notice the large market potential and start marketing blended white teas. This is easy to do, as the public does not understand the category.

This is then the inherent danger for white tea, since poor quality whites, and greens sold as whites, will damage the reputation and longevity of the category.

The board of the U.S. Tea Association concluded that as an industry we should agree as to what defines white tea, and stick to it. They felt that packers should be open about blended products, as well as specify the contents of a white tea “blend.” They also agreed that packers should be responsible for the claims made and be able to substantiate health and wellness claims, which may have not been corroborated.

The first step, according to the U.S. Tea Association, was to give white tea a definition. Despite being first produced in Fujian province, white tea refers to the production technique, not a statement of origin. It is produced from the fresh unfurled buds of the Camellia sinensis shrub and the processing involves no withering, fermentation or rolling process. The resultant liquors should be clear to pale yellow in color.

Among the current countries producing “white tea” are China, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. But caveat emptor — or buyers beware — be sure to satisfy yourself as to the method of production and be careful to understand the “real” potential availability. If the liquor is green, it is a green tea and more importantly, if it is cheap tea, it probably isn’t white tea.

Finally, if in doubt, turn to the following proposed definition.

In Order for White Tea to Be Termed So, It Should Be:

Processed in accordance with the strict harvesting and processing guidelines, which were originally established in Fujian Province, China.

Lower grades (Pai Mu Dan, Kung Mei, Sow Mei) are made from larger and coarser leaves, but the process is the same and there should be some presence of the white buds.

There should be no withering, fermentation (oxidation) or rolling of the buds, though the process of air-drying by definition involves some withering and oxidative effects.

Silver Needle grade is made from finely plucked tender shoots (buds) of Camellia Sinensis usually, but not always, from the first flush after winter. These are air-dried or directly warmed/fired.

The liquor of White Tea is a very pale yellow color and mild tasting in the cup. Coarser and cut grades are of course less pale and delicate than the highest grades (Silver Needle).

Any tea producing country may make white tea, provided manufacturing conforms to the above harvesting and processing steps. The value of this tea depends on the proportion of buds included, the leaf appearance, as well as liquor quality and color (the paler and more buds included in the leaf, the better).

It is said, “Guidelines are for the wise men and the obedience of fools.” I guess I can add to that by saying, “Don’t be fooled. Be guided.”

I would like to recognize Peter Goggi of Unilever Best Foods, John Snell of Van Rees, Jem McDowall UTTC and Joe Simrany of the US Tea Association for their time and energy in bringing this project home. It is a team effort and I was just the one asked to write the article. Thus, the blame for the content and comment is mine, other than the definition of course, for which everyone can claim credit.