This is a real tea country. Everywhere is tea from vending machine to side road. Welcome to Taiwan. Taiwan is famous for their oolong. Majority of them are grown in the central part of the country, but you can find other type of tea production through out the country.
Tea fields are in the neat rows rising and falling with the slope of the mountains like waves of green sea water, majestic and elegant at the same time. Tea farms are everywhere.
If you come during harvest season you will have a chance to observe scenes of tea harvesting and processing; the whole countryside, at this time, is filled with the rich aroma of tea. The tea grown here has a fresh and sweet flavor.
We met with Tea Master Jeff in Songbaoling. He is the owner of a tea farm and a Tea Master in his own right. I told him that i would come to visit him but with me missed my connection flight (ugh), I didn't specifically tell him when I would arrive. As I walked along the street, the street vendors sell mainly pineapple, yellow ginger, some mushrooms and most of all, Tea.
While I was looking around, I stopped in front of a store to admire tea pots. Without realizing it was Mr. Jeff 's store, I said "Oh, is that Mr. Jeff?" He invited me to go inside. When I entered his store, I noticed him and his wife were busy picking out tea. I asked what they were doing; they said they were separating higher quality tea leaves. We knew beforehand that Mr. Jeff's tea are award winning in several competitions. We then introduced ourselves for a little bit.
He asked what tea I would like to drink and we hit it off with Jade Oolong, winter tea. The tea was so much of flower aroma and strong with astringent. After 2 cups, we moved to Jin Xuan Oolong which also has a flower aroma but lighter and a little bit more palatable for me. At the end, he asked if I wanted to try black tea. This black tea is made from smaller leaves (Camillia Sinensis) as opposed to Camillia Assamisis which is famous to grow in Sun Moon Lake area, Sun Moon Lake Black Tea #18. See our another blog on this tea.
It was not my plan to visit him during the Buddha's birthday. There were many worshipers, drum playing along the street, and many display of Buddha's images. After tea tasting, Mr. Jeff and I walked to see the Buddha's birthday event. Incense smell filled the place with so many people carried Buddha images into the temple. The sky was so blue with no cloud and definitely, it was too hot for a Minnesotan like me (around 27C /80F that day).
On the way back to his store, he pointed out his cousin store on the way back. We stopped by to buy a mochi (rice cake dessert) and his wife invited me to join them for a lunch. After lunch, he took me to his factory where I could help him with tea processing and looked at his tea farm. I learned that his grandfather started the tea farm and now he is the 3rd generation of tea family.
Standing next to his tea plants, I smelled flower aroma which was in his tea. I have always wondering why Taiwan's oolong smells so good. I thought they added something in the tea but no, it actually comes from the tea plant. As I helped them rolling the tea, the aroma was so fragrant and beautiful. No wonder why many of his teas won tea competition.
I came here for a cup of tea but I received a kindness, true friendship and hospitality from him and his wife. Thank you.
Disclaimer: We are not associated with any local or oversea tea organization.
Staff at Great Tea Road Co