I pull the contents of my bottom drawer out and place them on my desk, it occurs to me that at some stage over recent years, I have become a tea bore. “OK,” I tell Ms Fang. “I have Formosa dong-ding, which is quite light. Big red robe, which is very dark. Feng-huang-dan-cong – quite fruity. Wu yi, which is a bit smoky, though the flavour changes with each fresh infusion of water. Iron Buddha… Oh, and some Luk Yu-brand teabags, but we can’t give him those.”
I follow Ms Fang as she takes the packages over to the meeting room. Through the half-opened door, I see the withered, bearded sage in his gown suddenly hurl something too small to detect into the air, prompting an admiring ‘waah!’ from the easily impressed personal assistant. His old trick of spearing a fly in mid-flight with a needle and pinning it to the wall – it gets tiresome after the first few times (and how come it is only when he is around that we have flies?). After some murmuring, Ms Fang reappears.
“He wants to know which season the big red robe stuff was harvested, and how high up the mountain the wu yi was grown.” I have to confess that all I know is that he has picked the two most expensive ones. She goes back in for a few seconds, comes out again and deposits my collection of oolong in my hands. “He says he’ll have a Coke, instead,” she says –