rivers and clouds is a tea shop focusing on sourcing a curated selection of single-estate Chinese teas.
Our name derives from Sichuan (四川 sì chuán = four rivers) and Yunnan (云南 yún nán = south of the clouds), the provinces we primarily focus on for sourcing our teas.
We started with bringing tea from old friends, who still are our main producers nowadays, as presents to friends at home and helping other companies with wholesale imports of some speciality teas in 2012.
In January 2017 our webshop was opened, December that year we chose to use the space in Lübeck as our base and settled down to open a brick-and-mortar shop, which has been running, with a few travel breaks, since then.
All our teas are sourced directly from the producer, all of the plantations are either organic certified or picked from the wild (which is not certifiable) and all of them are either pure family operations or working at least on the principles of fair trade (most certifiers do not certify Chinese companies). We visit at least once a year to check and decide which teas to buy.
Once a tea is sold out, we will not be replacing it with something similar from another plantation if we don’t find anything that suits our very high standards on artisanal, quality, cleanliness and fair labour conditions level.
Also, there is no guarantee that one year’s vintage will have the same character as the previous year’s, even if made the exact same way – tea is a natural product and we love to say it’s just as wine, as the influences such as terroir, weather conditions, the exact plants and many steps within the artisanal process of making them are just the same.
Therefore our product range will continue to develop and change with each season to stay true to the quality of the tea.
We try nothing less than to give artisanally made tea the respect it deserves and hope we can change the Western customers’ appreciation of this product to a point that we can develop a self-sustaining market for truly great tea.