West China Tea Company

Meet The Tea Master

If you have any interest or appreciation for tea at all, you can’t miss the West China Tea booth this Sunday. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to enjoy a cup of tea with the founder So-han Fan, and I was beyond impressed. Seriously, he knows everything about tea, particularly Chinese tea.

So-han – though born in New Orleans and raised in Houston – has Chinese roots and speaks it fluently. So, when he traveled to China for the first time in 2010 to study fresh water biology, he was able to build strong and lasting relationships with Chinese farmers.

“On weekends we would go out and meet farmers and share tea with them. In China, business practice is a lot different than here in the U.S. Here, you set a meeting, argue figures or stats, and formally ask about a business future. But in China, you don’t ‘do business’. You make friends and then friends help each other out. In Chinese, this is called building Guangxi and without it, you won’t have a strong or trusting business relationship”.

Literally hundreds, if not thousands of cups of tea later, So-han was able to handpick the finest teas from the most remote corners of China. And, because he was so excited and willing to get to know so many Chinese farmers (sometimes hitchhiking to reach them), he has all these crazy connections that no other tea dealer has.

Although So-han’s trips to China ignited his business West China Tea Company, he had actually been a tea connoisseur for over seven years before that. His obsession started in college and has only grown and expanded since.

But now more about the tea itself…

All of West China Tea Company’s teas are strictly farm direct. That means you have a 100% guarantee that your product is natural, non-GMO, and free of pesticides. Being farm direct also affects the taste. So-han compares his tea to the specialized flavor of a single malt scotch. Both have a unique and concentrated taste defined by the unique location the drink is from.

The health benefits of tea are essentially infinite. Literally ANY symptom you may have has a tea that can help. If you’re curious about what types of teas could benefit your personal needs, stop by the market and So-han will hook you up. As a biologist, he is always sure not to make any health claims that haven’t been backed up by western science as well.

In fact, So-han has a running study with Mr. Natural in which he observes the drop in blood sugar in diabetics after drinking a pot of West China Tea. Results show that levels dropped for 2/3 of all participants and every participant decided to purchase some tea for themselves. Eventually, one man told So-han that because of his tea, he was able to stop taking insulin altogether. That’s pretty badass if you ask me.

So, to sum this up: if you enjoy tea, if you want to improve your health, or if you want to hear a good travel story, go visit So-han at West China Tea Company at the HOPE Farmer’s Market from 11:00 – 3:00 every Sunday! Also, check out his links below to learn more!





I’m Brooke, the author of the blog you’ve just read. Working with the HOPE Farmer’s Market has been so great, but unfortunately I will have to leave HOPE to finish my last semester at Baylor University this fall. I will graduate with a major in political science and a minor in poverty studies and social justice. When I’m not blogging, my days are full of studying for the GRE and applications. I know I’m super exciting this summer, right? But every blog, I’ll let you guys know something a bit more interesting about myself and this week’s fact is:

I once swung my feet off of 300ft cliffs that delved into the Atlantic. It was great.


Tea Time with Nile Valley Herbs!

Making A Difference, One Glass at a Time

Today I’m going to offer you a sweet deal. Get some delicious, yet healthy tea AND help save lives, all for just $6.50!  Seems too good to be true, right? Well, it’s not. I’d like to introduce you to the groups that make it possible: Nile Valley Herbs and its sister nonprofit Mother Maryam.

The Background

Mr. Awad Abdelgadir, a former professor at St. Edwards University, moved from northern Sudan to the United States for graduate school. The beloved village he left behind lacked clean water, basic healthcare, and stable schools: a story all too commonly heard and forgotten about. As soon as Dr. Abdelgadir got his degree, he immediately went to work searching for ways to raise the standard of living back home. But changing lives doesn’t come cheap, so Dr. Abdelgadir searched for ways to raise money. He noticed that one particularly popular drink from Sudan was missing from cafes and grocery stores alike: Hibiscus tea. And wham bam a business was formed.

Nile Valley Herbs Hibiscus Tea started in supporting grocery stores like Whole Foods and Central Market, but now also includes independent sales and farmers’ markets. Every year a portion of the profits go to fund projects in Awad’s home in northern Sudan. Also, anytime anyone leaves money in Nile Valley’s tip jar, every cent goes to Nile Valley’s sister nonprofit: Mother Maryam.

Mother Maryam

Since founded by Dr. Abdelgadir in 2006, the Mother Maryam Foundation has changed the world and saved lives. And no, I am not being overly dramatic. One of the foundations’ largest completed missions is providing clean water. With help from various donors, Mother Maryam funded a well, pump, water tower, and distribution system, which serves hundreds of homes, the school, and clinic. In 2011, a health clinic was opened that primarily treats cases of malaria, as well as eye disease, dysentery, and pneumonia. These diseases are a huge problem in Northern Sudan, but are almost entirely preventable with basic technologies.

When talking with five-year Nile Valley employee and Mother Maryam board member Kyle Overby, he told me a story from his trip to Sudan: “There was a boy suffering from a severe asthma attack the very first week of our clinic being open. Without the clinic, it would have taken too long for him to get to any health facility. He would not be alive today.” So yeah, these guys are saving lives and making a difference. They are always finding new ways to contribute weather it be bringing computers to the village for the first time, installing solar panels to increase sustainability, or funding doctor’s salaries.

Of course, like all important things, Mother Maryam’s mission to raise the standard of living in Northern Sudan requires constant attention and finances. If you’d like  to be an awesome human being and make a donation to the Mother Maryam Foundation directly, please follow this link.

Hibiscus Heals

Switching gears a bit, I realize that I keep mentioning Hibiscus tea without any explanation. And if you’re a health nut newbie like myself, then you probably don’t know anything about Hibiscus. Well first of, Hibiscus is a flower and has been used to promote healthy living for centuries. All Nile Valley’s hibiscus leaves come straight from the banks of the Nile, organic and natural, so you know you are getting high quality stuff.  Some of the proven health benefits include:

–       lowering blood pressure (Yes! Stress is at an all time high!)

–       cooling the body down (Hello, Texas heat remedy!)

–       lowering cholesterol (So that means I can have more pizza, right?).

There’s really no downside to mention. Help your heart, your brain, and others while enjoying the refreshing taste of hibiscus tea. Nile Valley is a small company, trying to make a big difference and I think that’s pretty admirable.

So since I know you obviously want some tea now, check out the Nile Valley website here or just visit them every Sunday at the HOPE Farmer’s Market!

Website: http://nilevalleyherbs.com/

Facebook: Nile Valley Herbs




I’m Brooke, the author of the blog you’ve just read. Working with the HOPE Farmer’s Market has been so great, but unfortunately I will have to leave HOPE to finish my last semester at Baylor University this fall. I will graduate with a major in political science and a minor in poverty studies and social justice. Right now I’m applying to graduate school like crazy so hopefully I will be able to continue my studies. Every blog, I’ll let you guys know something a bit more interesting about myself and this week’s fact is:

I have two brothers each six years away in opposite directions.