Chunhe Song is R&D Manager for Leaf Sourcing and Supply at James Finlay Guizhou
1. Tell us about your role
Building strong relationships with local tea farmers is a really important part of what we do at James Finlay Guizhou. A big part of my job is to understand the suppliers’ capacity for processing and their ability to develop new products. That means I work closely with them to improve the quality of tea at source, as well as at the primary tea processing factory. Another important part of my role is being familiar with the main buyers in the market and understanding the main products available.
2. What does a typical day look like for you?
I might start by analysing a batch of inventory, and if there is demand from the sales department, make a blend using existing stock. If there are new products required, I might spend time discussing with suppliers. I also spend a lot of time visiting suppliers to understand their situation. Having close relationships with our suppliers is a really important part of the unique sourcing model we operate to at James Finlay Guizhou.
3. What inspires you?
I first got involved in tea 25 years ago and joined Finlays nine years ago. The main thing that inspires me is the emotional side of tea. Particularly at James Finlay Guizhou, providing good, sustainably sourced tea for consumers and generating revenue for farmers who are working at tea gardens makes me feel good.
4. What is interesting in the world of R&D in tea in China?
Chinese people are eating out more and more, and this is increasing demand for teas that are consumed as part of an evening meal. Milk tea stores are becoming more and more popular, and at Finlays, we are focussing more on these two areas.