The ephemeral gui hua, Mr. Wu & the birth of the Chinese lights project

Late September and early October is the season of gui hua. These are the flowers of a particular tree, the Osmanthus fragrans which is blooming now, its smell is sweet and delicate. Osmanthus trees are covered with these tiny dots of yellow, as many flowers; once dried, they are a great additive to green tea leaves, especially the wu long tea. For once, I am in China during this period, the surrounding flagrance in Shanghai parks brings back the memories of the last gui hua tea I had the pleasure to drink.

It was in Jinxi, at the end of the shooting session of the series Winter lights in Jinxi (see Part I and Part II), I found a tiny but nice tea house near the small lake surrounded by the old town. The sun was soft, warm and comfortable, I had a great time takings some notes and enjoying a locally made gui hua tea. The art of tea is somehow including the location as well as the surroundings as part of the experience, this one was a great one. I had the chance to meet and chat with the man who runs the place, M. Wu. He is a young and talented artist and business man. He was born in the far Yunnan southern province and somehow landed in the rich and industrial Jiangsu province.

His life story is something, but to make it simple, one day he visited Jinxi, he liked the place and then he stayed. He has built a nice and alternative place with a unique atmosphere. Mr. Wu is very friendly and proud to introduce his passion for Jinxi old town as well as his personal art craft works. We had a long talk about photography and he shared with me an impressive collection of photographs of his new home town taken by famous and anonymous photographers who passed by his tea house. If you have the chance to be around, go there and enjoy, he recently added a few rooms, the place is now a guest house ! it is called 汲坞茶驿 (ji wu cha yi) 江苏省昆山市锦溪镇菱荡湾29号 – (more on dianping ).

For the records, this is probably during this afternoon, enjoying the lazy sun and peace of the place that I had the idea of the Chinese lights project. I will come back on that in another post.

Thank you M. Wu to bring inspiration and for having built this great piece of peace…