Chapter 1264: [YeXi] Commercial opportunity

Han Chen had invited Long Feiye to drink South Peak Red tea with him at Celestial Fragrance Teahouse?

Long Feiye didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the invitation. He asked Han Yunxi, “Looks like your father doesn’t understand red teas very well.”[1]

“What do you mean?” Han Yunxi didn’t understand. She liked tea but wasn’t a diehard fanatic like Long Feiye. Although she’d been with him long enough to understand more about the particulars and grow picky with her tastes, she still couldn’t grasp the finer details.

Long Feiye hadn’t started explaining when Gu Qishao laughed and said, “Poison lass, your father better not ruin my South Peak Red!”

Han Yunxi was even more flummoxed. Long Feiye had a rare moment of agreement with Gu Qishao as he nodded. “Looks like he’s going to ruin it.”

Actually, Gu Qishao was not only the Pill Fiend, but the Tea Fiend as well. Han Yunxi privately thought that he and Long Feiye should have originally been great conversation partners! 

“Poison lass, the best spring teas are green teas, while the best summer teas are red teas!” Gu Qishao began to explain. 

Tea was divided by types based on the four seasons, though spring, summer, and autumn teas were the most common varieties. Winter tea was also called winterflakes. Tea trees tended to hibernate in the wintertime so only the warmest regions could harvest leaves year round and supply winterflake tea. 

After winter passed, the first bloom of tender leaves made for spring tea. It was the best tea of the four seasons, with the leaves plump and soft. Within the spring tea there were further divisions of mingqian tea (明前茶), yuqian tea (雨前茶), and xiaqian tea (夏前茶) which were harvested before the Tomb-Sweeping FestivalGuyu solar term, and Lixia solar terms, respectively. Mingqian tea was the most precious of the bunch and even went by the saying “as regal as gold.”

However, not all teas were best picked before the Tomb-Sweeping Festival. Amongst green teas alone, it was the freshness that determined quality. Green teas like biluochun, Dragon Well, and maofeng had to be picked in spring as mingqian tea. But the best red teas should be picked after the lixia solar term. Red teas focused less on freshness and were fermented during processing. Low air pressure and high humidity during the mingqian and yuqian periods weren’t ideal for the fermentation process and would affect the taste of the tea on the tongue. Of course, ordinary people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, but Long Feiye was too picky not to notice.

When the weather grew warmer in summer, humidity dropped, but tea was still coarse before lixia. During summer proper, tea leaves grew quickly and aged fast, so its quality was inferior to spring tea. Top-tier red teas harvested during this time relied on both the quality of the tea tree and its buds and leaves as well as the baking process and time!

Tea leaves harvested after lixia were less rough, the climate then being properly suited for fermentation. It was the perfect time to pick and bake. South Peak Red was exactly this kind of tea that could be baked and then sealed up. After sitting for a year to a year and a half, its flavor would taste even better. 

Han Yunxi more or less understood the situation after Gu Qishao’s explanation. Long Feiye wanted to invite Han Chen to try top-tier biluochun and Dragon Well green teas in Yunning while letting him see Rui’er at the same time. Then he could accompany the man to Celestial Fragrance Teahouse, where the two could enjoy the establishment’s maofeng. When lixia came around, he would personally pick out some South Peak Red leaves to bake and store away.

He never expected Han Chen to drink South Peak Red with him now.

“The Mysterious Continent’s tea leaf varieties are rather simple. Besides the Ice Sea Red leaves, there aren’t any other red leaf teas. Han Chen likes South Peak Red, but he might not understand how it’s made!” Gu Qishao had ran teashops for years and knew exactly what he was talking about.

“The weather at the Ice Sea is differs from that of Celestial Fragrance Teahouse. Their springs are more dry because they’re in the north, so springtime is perfect for harvesting and baking red tea leaves. Here we would have to wait until lixia,” Gu Qishao added.

Long Feiye stared at him while Gu Qishao looked at Han Yunxi, but he turned back to the man once he was done. “Long Feiye, have you stared enough? Did I say anything wrong?”

Han Yunxi suddenly spat out her mouthful of tea. Why did Gu Qishao’s words sound so familiar! 

An expressionless Long Feiye only replied, “Gu Qishao, are you planning to open up a teashop in the Mysterious Continent?” He even knows about the tea situation up north. Even I had no idea.

Gu Qishao startled before laughing in denial. “I’m too lazy to go!”

Actually he had long planned things in advance. The Mysterious Continent was a land of many kings. If he opened up teashops on Cloud Realm Continent, they could still be closed by Long Feiye in a fit of bad temper with one single order. 

But in the Mysterious Continent, a land where people spoke with their fists, he had nothing to fear as long as he gave Han Chen good tea. Although he’d lost South Peak Red, he was going to develop an even better red tea. When the time came, all he had to do was wait for Long Feiye to knock on his door and beg for a piece! Of course, there was another motive for opening a teashop in the Mysterious Continent, and that was to make big money!

Long Feiye had no idea about the knot in Gu Qishao’s heart. He said to Han Yunxi, “The tea business in the Mysterious Continent isn’t bad. Once the four corners of Cloud Realm settle down, we should take a trip to the Ice Sea and see if there’s a way to open up a border trade there.”

Han Yumnxi was thinking the same thing. “There should be more than just the tea business. When we’re free, we should pay a proper visit to the Mysterious Continent and understand it thoroughly.”

Gu Qishao’s eyes flashed with worry as he decided he had to move fast. Before Cloud Realm Continent fully recovered from its ravages of war, he had to claim a stake in the Mysterious Continent. Tea, wine, and tobacco were all high profit businesses. At the thought, Gu Qishao suddenly recalled Ning Cheng!

He had no idea how the wine business was up north. Had the long missing Ning Cheng ran to the Mysterious Continent to search for his drinks? As a fellow brother who dared to provoke Long Feiye on his own terms, Gu Qishao felt an obligation to hunt Ning Cheng down. They should work together to tackle the tea, wine, and tobacco trade in the Mysterious Continent! With his ability to pick out wares and Ning Cheng’s business sense, it’d be a breeze to get rich!

Gu Qishao’s slender eyes narrowed in aspiration and anticipation. If not for the fact that Rui’er’s condition was still a mystery, he’d be running off the Mysterious Continent today! 

While Long Feiye was ignorant to Gu Qishao’s woes, Gu Qishao was ignorant to Han Yunxi’s worries. Her beautiful phoenix eyes were also narrowed in thought. She realized that the Mysterious Continent should be an excellent place to make money. Before establishing a border trade post, she had to find a way to make a fortune over there. She already had a candidate in mind: Ning Jing! With my modern business management philosophy and her years of experience, it’d be strange if we didn’t end up as the richest in the Mysterious Continent!

At last, the ever silent Gu Beiyue spoke up. “Your Majesty, opening a border trade benefits the citizens of both sides, but also gives another pathway to fill the national treasury. The taxation of merchants have always been a top priority. Right now the time isn’t ripe for such endeavors, but there are still merchants doing private business across the border. As this subordinate sees it, it’s necessary to include some trade tariffs into our tax reforms.”

Both Han Yunxi and Gu Qishao rolled their eyes at his words. It was true, both tariffs and customs duties were nonexistent at the Ice Sea in past or present.

“Excellent. We have to heavily increase the tariffs, especially in the next few years!” Long Feiye said coldly.

The next few years would see a shortage of supplies across Cloud Realm Continent. If someone tried to sell its goods across the border then, then supply would grow even tighter at home and drive prices up. Thus, high tariffs were a good solution to countermend the problem. Han Yunxi felt that made sense too and began to think of other ways to make money within the continent. She soon settled on the triple tier business of tea, wine, and tobacco, which weren’t basic necessities whose prices could be affected by inflation.

A single cup of tea had stirred up a storm of business venture ideas. Heaven knows whether Gu Qishao would find Ning Cheng and form a successful partnership, or whether Han Yunxi could cooperate smoothly with Ning Jing? These were all future matters. No matter what, Long Feiye had to accept Han Chen’s invitation now.

He took care of a few urgent matters before taking Han Yunxi and Rui’er towards the capital city. Gu Qishao and Gu Beiyue followed along while Mu Linger tagged along on her way to Medicine City. She couldn’t afford to delay the matter of the pharmacovigilance group for long; moreover, there were a group of children waiting for her to instruct them back home. When the party left the city gates, Han Yunxi’s group went east while Mu Linger headed southwest.

“Linger, how about having Xu Donglin accompany you?” Han Yunxi asked. They were traveling as a group but Mu Linger was all by herself, which she felt badly about. Still, Mu Linger couldn’t be persuaded to stay.

“No need! It’s only a few days’ travel, I’ll get there very quickly,” Mu Linger grinned. “Big sis, you’re not old yet so why are you being such a nag? Be careful brother-in-law doesn’t find you annoying!”

Long Feiye was currently discussing matters with Gu Beiyue inside the carriage and didn’t hear these words. Instead, it was Gu Qishao who picked them up and looked at them in silence. What could Han Yunxi do? She simply waved a hand to hurry Mu Linger off.

“Goodbye!” Mu Linger waved with a grin as she galloped off with a shout. “Brother-in-law, Grand Tutor Gu, goodbye!”

This was the first time anyone had called Long Feiye “brother-in-law.” He looked out the carriage, but Mu Linger was already far away. Han Yunxi couldn’t help glancing towards Gu Qishao. That girl Linger hadn’t bid her Qi gege goodbye at all! 

Gu Qishao didn’t care. He was about to leave when Mu Linger’s voice suddenly carried back from a distance, extremely loud. “Goodbye, Little Qi gege!”

Little Qi gege…

Many years ago when they were both children, she used to call him by that nickname.

“Little Qi gege, here, I stole this from my house, it’s really delicious.”

“Little Qi gege, this is my entire allowance, I’m giving it to you.”

“Little Qi gege, don’t go. Can you wait two more years for me? I’ll have Mute Nanny give you a pair of shoes.”

….

“Goodbye, little lass,” Gu Qishao intoned before turning his horse to gallop east first...


1. Although written as “red tea,” in Chinese this refers to both red and black tea leaves. Do not confuse with rooibos!

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Ruyi's Thoughts

a moment of silence for gu qishao and mu linger because i think...this is really the end for them. they ended where they began, as simple childhood friends. that's not such a bad ending, really. :')

also omg did not expect this chapter to turn into a TEA TEXTBOOK lol i died~