interview: jenny liu from slave to appetite and rocky mountain tea

the tea + travel interviews series: bloggers, tea writers, personalities and tea photographers share  their experiences with tea & travel around the world.

Jenny Liu is a native New Yorker in her early 20’s; currently living in China trying to break into a 4000 year old tea trade with Rocky Mountains Tea.

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Tell me about your blog, how did you get to the point you’re at now and what are you thinking of doing next?

Slave to Appetite” began as a food blog but extended to my appetite for travel and life things. At the moment, these “life things” include a lot of spontaneous traveling throughout China and starting a tea company, Rocky Mountains Tea & Coffee.

Tell me where in the world you are, how did you get there (what’s the story behind the journey) and where are you thinking of going next?

Currently I am in Nanjing, China, sourcing tea leaves and developing tea products. When I graduated college and went back home to New York, I was introduced by my father to Edward, who owned a water factory in Nanjing and had this adventurous dream about Chinese teas.

Before this, I drank tea from tea bags and matcha from powdered milk mixes, but I had a wild inkling that tea was an interest that I wanted to cultivate. So deciding to join his tea adventure, I flew 14 hours to Shanghai, drove up many precarious mountain roads to remote tea plantations, and tasted many cups of tea. Two months ago, I have never even heard of Mao Feng or Long jing and I’m only learning more every day.

Next, we are getting on a rapid train to Yi Chang, where we are working with the tea plantation owners and specialists to produce the most naturally fragrant and sweet organic green tea possible for Rocky Mountains.

What does traveling mean to you?

My favorite part about traveling is meeting people, making friends, learning the language, and eating all sorts of fun, local food. I’ve been to about 16 countries so far, and even during the less glamorous moments where I’m staring at a trough where five other people are squatting over, and I am thinking, “This is the bathroom?” I feel that I am so fortunate to be able to experience these places.

What does tea mean to you?

Aside from water, tea is my fluid of choice. Tea means the difference between being thirsty and being not thirsty—and it is very important that I remain not thirsty.

What’s your favorite tea related memory or location and why is it special to you?

When I was studying abroad in Tokyo, the first time I went into convenience store, I discovered that they sold tea, green, oolong, and barley tea by the 2 liter for 200 yen (2 dollars). I drank the Ito En green tea straight from the bottle, which was so large I had to grasp it with both hands, and lugged it around the city with me. It felt so devious, like drinking straight from the milk carton.

What do you drink/steep at home?

At the moment: Rocky Mountain‘s organic “Supreme Green Tea,” a tie guan yin with zero oxidation (hence an oolong “green tea”) that has a bright, vegetal fragrance and not a hint of bitterness or astringency.

Unfortunately, it’s in low supply and we won’t get another batch until next harvest in the springtime.

If there is one tea you could introduce to everyone in the world, what would it be?

Tie Guan Yin!—depending on the oxidation, the taste can vary monstrously, so there is a flavor for everyone.

Can you tell me three of your favorite tea or travel blogs?

My Google reader is gastro-centric and biased towards the travels of the stomach

  • Luxeat.com, a model who travels the world, eating at Michelin level restaurants. She switches her role from model to photographer by turning the camera on the food, for the rest of us who cannot be there.
  • The Girl Who Ate Everything:  An editor of Serious Eats, who has a quirky, approachable blog about her copious eating and traveling. There is an awe-inspiring amount of food on her site.
  • Navigeaters.com: A couple who tries to eat every country’s cuisine… without ever leaving New York. [**I love their globe/apple logo, it’s so clever!**deb]

Can you tell me your favorite tea shop?

Ten Ren, a tea chain from Taiwan, because they have green milk tea with tapioca that is totally fun to slurp up in a giant straw. The “milk” part is actually a spot of condensed milk, which adds a creamy vanilla flavor. I enjoy all the creative aspects of tea and am looking forward to finding new ways to drink (and eat) it.

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Jenny can be found at her blog, Slave to Appetite, at Rocky Mountain Tea, and she also has some really beautiful tea, tea farm and travel photos on Flickr (which she’s kindly given me permission to use above, Thanks Jenny!)

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Comments
2 Responses to “interview: jenny liu from slave to appetite and rocky mountain tea”
  1. Hey very nice blog!I’m an instant fan, I have bookmarked you and I’ll be checking back on a regular.See u.

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