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CHO FU LAI
Frank was born in Beijing, China and came to the United States in 1947.
Self-taught, Frank played the hu-chin and was one of the founding members of the Chinese Opera Club in New York City.
Having studied Chinese brush painting with master C. C. Wang, Frank opened Mi Chou, the first gallery in the United States to exclusively feature Chinese artists.
Expert tea taster and blender, Frank traveled extensively in search of fine teas that could be imported and distributed in the United States.
Frank's brother was killed by Japanese troops near the conclusion of WWII. In memory of Cho Huan-Lai, Frank's dying wish was to establish an endowed fund to support academic research at Macalester College.
"The Grace Tea Company has been a New York institution since its founding in 1959. The character and style of Grace Rare Teas were developed by Grace’s founder, Frank Cho. At Grace’s inception, Cho was known by many as an expert tea taster who had an unparalleled ability to taste the nuances of the various tea leaves. He created many of the tea blends still offered today, focusing on combining rare teas from China, India, Formosa and Ceylon. His elegant black tin with a clipper ship on its label, filled to the top with the finest tea available, is a well sought after luxury item to this day."
Featured profile in Tea & Coffee Trade Journal circa July 1974 :
Story from New York Herald Tribune, 1963 — courtesy of Grace Tea archives (thanks, Hartley):