Sunday, October 11, 2009

2009 TOST - Oriental Beauty - Drying, Rolling and Drying (6/26/2009)

If you are not there to eyewitness the whole will think that it might be all the same just like the CHART showing each step... However, with our tea masters' persistence and the competition, they will repeat the drying steps and rolling steps...also, again, because the tender leaves they are handling, they must make sure to keep the leaves' one sprout with two tender leaves intact. (**That usually is an important criteria to decide the Quality of Oriental Beauty.) Therefore, they will not dry the tea instantly, and try to apply with wet towels to hold the leaves while they are rolling with half-moon roller, or hand-rolling...We are lucky to see these two masters are competing each other...
An unforgettable experience for most of our members to observe the craftsmanship. (**My father used to tell me that "No master is true master, if he/she cannot cope with the weather, the equipments, and adjust with the tea's changing status...) Well, leave the toughness for these tea farmers and their masters. We are just as curious, and want to cup the tea we just "made". TTMA will help to dry these tea and pack in tins for every member to take home to enjoy.

2009 TOST - Oriental Beauty - Panning (6/26/2009)

Judged by the two masters, they started to pull all the leaves that have gone through indoor withered together, and set for Panning. They worked really carefully to make sure that leaves will not be broken. When the panning done, the leaves were covered with towels to get soften
with moisture contains inside. The aroma of Oriental Beauty is spreading in the air...

2009 TOST - Oriental Beauty - indoor withering (6/26/2009)

Honestly, we took a break a little bit too long to miss moving tea leaves from out door to inside the factory. Sun withered and sun burned makes huge difference...we have to be extra careful to examine the leaves' status...
During the indoor withering, we were guided to do the fluffing and softly shaking the spreading the tea leaves for few times. Our Oriental Beauty are resting on the racks...and we were treated with lichee, watermelon, Ted's sister. Norman also worked with Mr. Shen to have his competition teas for our members to evaluate...well, those tea leaves got their breaks...we, we need to review our cuppings at TRES/Taitung branch on 6/25/2009. Please refer to our post:

2009 TOST - Oriental Beauty - solar withering (6/26/2009)

Mr. Shen and several friends are waiting for us...
In the countryside, a bunch of foreign visitors show up in a tea plant to learn how to make tea...that makes news all right. His neighbors and several local farmers were there to greet us.
Solar withering plays a very important role in Oriental Beauty's processing. Usually, summer time in Taiwan could be super hot with astonishing sunshine... The shade for controlling the heat is very critical. When sun is out, we pull the shades on...when direct sun is needed again, the shades will be off. Some tea plants in Taiwan have installed remote control for their shades, but at this plant we need our young forces, Ricki and Greg, they were having fun to help out...
Each member got 2 kgs of fresh tea leaves and 5 bamboo trays. We were guided by Master Liu and Master Shen to spread the leaves evenly in 5 trays...with extra soft touch. How long the solar withering, depends on the sun shine, temperature, and humidity. We were told by our teachers to check the tea leaves to judge when the leave are done for moving to next step...indoor withering.

2009 TOST - Oriental Beauty - plucking the leaves (6/26/2009)

June 26, 2009. We left Dong Wu Hotel at 8 am sharp, all of our members are excited to meet the legendary "Oriental Beauty"!
Jackson told us that we will pick up Sensei Hsu (Master Y.S. Hsu) on the way to Lungtan tea district. Master Hsu is senior advisor of TTMA, he works with Jackson together for over 7 years conducting Taiwan Oolongs Study Program for Japanese tea pros. At the tea plant, TTMA also invites two masters to show their different skills in processing. JP reminds every one to get enough chips for their cameras...this is indeed one of the most important sessions in our program. Back on TOST 2008, we came in Taiwan late in October, so we did not have chance to observe how this unique Taiwan Oolong is making. For TOST 2009, we are actually making thoughtful we are treated by TTMA.
From the slideshow, you can see that we must change to 4 wheel drive truck to get in tea fields and that is some experience for our members. The ladies were there plucking the leaves for us to hands on making our Oriental Beauty. We were lucky to hear the beautiful Hakka Tea Mountain Love Song right there...Bob was extremely happy and tried to sing back and forth with the ladies... How hard is to pluck the tea leaves for making Oriental Beauty? Well, you just have to believe: these ladies start plucking tea leaves from their very early age...they don't watch the leaves and pick...they almost rely on their fingers' feeling...just follow the feeling to pluck those "one sprout and two tender leaves that got bidden by green leaf hoppers". How many can they get if they have to wear the glasses to check and pick the leaves? In a way, they deserve to get higher pay for their excellent works. Good tea begins with right leaf. Nothing is easy... those ladies are proud of their Gong-Fu in the tea fields!
One bag of tea leaves traveled back with our bus on a ride to Mr. Shen's tea factory.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

2009 TOST - Visit TRES/Yangmei HQ (6/26/2009)

We have a short break while we are waiting for our Oriental Beauty to get indoor withering...
Jackson decided to take use to visit TRES Yangmei Head Quarter. Director Lin gave us a briefing and then guided our members to tour around the new Exhibition Hall on the basement...where we have seen several signatures on the visitor's we know they were also here earlier... We don't get much time to visit their facilities as our Oriental Beauty are calling us to rush back for the next step... TRES stands for Tea Research and Extension Station, a very important R&D center for Taiwan's tea industry. It was built in 1903 and continuously plays its important role for getting new cultivars and helping tea farmers and tea plants to improve the quality of Taiwan tea's plantation and manufacturing. I have made the link to the related videos of TRES on my another blog:

2009 TOST - Touring tea gardens in TRES/Taitung Branch (6/25/2009)

Here in TRES/Taitung Branch, there are various experiments on going... We were guided to see their tea gardens for various cultivars: Chin Sin Da Pan, Buddha Palm, TieKuanYin....and the Taiwan Wild Tea bushes garden, herbal the Organic tea gardens (with high tea plants as buffer zone) It is a great experience to view so many different cultivars and see how hard they are studying the tea plants from wild tea trees to many new hybrids.
Our trip to the east coast of Taiwan came to an end... We checked in Luye train station for a long ride (about 5 hours) to return to Taipei. The trip to visit Hualien and Taitung tea district is a new experience to our Taiwan Oolongs Study Tour. I feel so worth it and I know very well if without Director Wu' s passion and good preparation, this trip won't be so fulfilled.

2009 TOST - Cupping and Reviewing at Taitung Branch (6/25/2009)

TRES/Taitung Branch Director Wu gave all of us a PPS introduction about this facility. He also had 12 different teas that he thought we might not able to see from other tea districts. So we did cup Honey Green, Honey Oolong, Pomelo Flower scented Oolong, Red Oolong, Honey Black, Ruby 18, plus several Herbal blend Black teas in teabag form. (**All these herbs are from their experiment gardens) Mr. Wu told us that he doesn't want to miss great opportunity to listen to our members' opinions about their herbal blends and new iced teas.
Our members all worked very hard to cup and jog down the they were told that we are going to take turn to share the comments. We have not done the review until later...on an raining afternoon on 6/26 while we were waiting for the indoor withering of our Oriental Beauty... Please see these photos carefully, every one is seriously sharing and also listening to others' comments....what a great group we have! Not only I respect you all very much, the Double Rainbows also give all of us a Big Smile!

2009 TOST - Cupping and Reviewing at Wenshan Branch (6/22/2009)

We visited TRES/Wenshan Branch back on Mach for our scouting... At that time, we thought of Pouchong process will have several sessions of waiting among indoor withering. We have discussed about taking our members to visit tea gardens and also having a class room for Cupping and Reviewing different Pouchongs and Jade Oolongs based on various tea cultivars and finished tea's appearances. Here we are, a nice room right on the upstairs of withering room. Dr. Cheng hosts the tea cupping for our members. You might find the TV reporters and many guests joined us to do the cupping. We appreciate the generous support from TRES/Wenshan Branch and great arrangement by TTMA. What will be better, to hands on in each step of Pouchong processing, and get chance to review what we have done and learn to cup teas with so many tea masters on the site....

2009 TOST - How "Honey Oolong" is made? (6/25/2009@Taitung)

In the morning of 6/25/2009, we are visiting TRES Taitung Branch. We are the first group of tea pros from US and Canada that ever visit this Branch.
Before we were guided to the class room for the briefing and introduction, Mr. Wu, the Director of Taitung Branch, led us to their pilot tea plant to check out the tea leaf that spreaded on the bamboo trays for indoor withering... This is a special arrangement, so that our members got chance to see the so called "Honey Oolong" processing two hours later, after our briefing and cupping that prepared by Director Wu's team.
Taitung Branch under Director Wu, currently is working very hard to help their local tea farmers (including Hualien, Taitung, and Pingtung Counties) to experiment the Organic Practice, and Non-Toxic Practice (*means not to use Pesticides) in their tea plantations. They believe the special insects, the legendary Green Leaf Hoppers, might help them to produce excellent green tea, black tea and oolongs in this tea district with a very unique Honey touch.
The farmers will not waste the long summer crop in this district. Pluck the tea leaves that got
bitten by Green Leaf Hoppers, most tea leaves will be in one young sprout with 2 tender leaves intact. Besides the tea leaf, have you found any difference that our tea master has done differently after the leaves were pan-fired?
I have brought up an issue and also discussed with our group members: Honey Green, Honey Black, or Honey Oolong...might mislead consumers to the traditional flavored teas that with Honey flavoring added to it. Actually, these are naturally processed without any flavoring added...the unique Honey touch is due to the raw leaves they plucked and also the craftsmanship in tea processing. After our trip back from Taiwan, I have tried to create a trade mark: "Paoli" (please refer to the picture attached in this post.) I am thinking to name these teas: Paoli Green, Paoli Black, Paoli Oolong...instead of Honey Green... Paoli is after the angel:
Jacobiasca formosana Paoli.
We hope more inputs and discussion for this topic to find the proper way to help those tea farmers promote their unique tea to the connoisseurs in the World. May I hear from you?

Friday, October 9, 2009

2009 TOST - Stop by Dancing Crane Tea District (6/24/2009)

After our visit at the World famous Taroko National Park, we are heading south to Taitung. On the way, we stopped by a tea district in Rueisuey, Hualien. This tea district has a beautiful name - Dancing Crane, to describe the charming mountains and the surrounding river. Japanese used to produce Asame black tea from this district.
"Tropics of Cancer" line is crossing this area. We took a group picture here before we visited the tea gardens of Mr. Yeh and Mr. Kao, who invited us to taste their teas at their tea shops. Most farmers have their tea plants behind or beside ther tea retail stores. For the decade, tea farmers here actually enjoy good business of retailing their specialty teas, such as: Honey Green, Honey Black, Pomelo Oolong, Ruby 18... to the tourists, domestic and foreign.
The tea cultivars here mainly are Da-Yeh Oolong, Chin Sin Da Pan.. Many of the farmers moved here from northern Taiwan about 30 years ago. At that time, they were here to develop tea plantation and tried to make tea to supply to their home town or their head quarters in Taipei. We have seen many farmers are practicing organic or non-toxic (pesticide free) in their tea gardens. We were invited to Mr. Yeh Fa-Shan's big house to enjoy great fruits with nice tea. From his back yard, we got the best spot to see the famous River of Shiou-Gu-Ruan crossing through the Dancing Crane Mountains...(Josephine got few good shots of it.)
We were having a long day...and we all wonder: where and how our hotel in Taitung will be?

2009 TOST - A trip to Yilan Tea District (6/23/2009)

June 23, another day that we are up early...because our bus ride to Yilan will fight with Taipei's morning traffic. The trip is to visit Yilan, a county on the North East of Taiwan that facing the Pacific Ocean.
One of our members, Ken Rudee of Barnes & Watson Fine Teas, who won First prize at World Tea Expo 2009 for this tea garden's jade oolong, made April 15, 2009. Ken carried the award plaque all the way from Seattle to dedicate the prize to the real 'winner' Mr. Wu, Sheng-Ben. Taiwan's TV Channel also follows this news.
We have chances to taste the prizes teas and also get to visit the beautiful tea gardens there.
Taiwanese are so used to take breaks and have teas with good the tea hut there...our members were invited to have tea with them...
Do pay attention to the those photos of cuppings. During this trip, Thomas will remind every one to take memos for each cupping...the date, weather, cultivar...appearance, color of liquor, aroma, taste, finish...Good thing is we always find time to share the comments.

2009 TOST - Study tea plants on the fields @Wenshan (6/22/2009)

While we are waiting for indoor withering at Wenshan Branch, Jackson and David asked Mr. Tsai, the Assoicate agronomist, to guide our group to the tea fileds...Every one is busy catching or photoing the magical Green Leaf Hopper. TRES is experiencing organic tea plantation, so we got chance to learn different ways of handling those insects and weeds...
This is only our first day, and many members have felt the intense courses we have arranged for our program! More to see, more to learn...

2009 TOST - Pressed Tea DIY in Taitung (6/25/2009)

In TRES/Taitung Brach, Director Wu and his team have developped a set of toolings that can guide visitors to DIY your own Signature Preessed Tea. Josephine and I were here back on March in our scouting trip...we decided to convince Director Wu to include this session for our members. It is a fun experience for all of us to hands on to make the individual Pressed tea and place the signed label stuck on tope of each... Another souvenir for our field trip.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

2009 TOST - Visit "19 Tea House" in Taipei (6/23/2009)

After we returned from Yilan tea district on 6/23/2009, we all agreed to have half an hour break and we will walk over to a cozy tea house in Ning Sia Road, very close to Jackson's office.

Josephine and I found out this new tea house on our previous trip (Mar/2009), we decided to add an evening here for our schedule.

Why? Their style is indeed very unique in Taipei. We thought it will be great to let our members to have a discussion here. (Look at our members in the pictures...every one has different opinion. Even Norman Shu, the Chairman of TTMA stayed with our group to observe our discussion. The owner, Mr. Kao also joined us for sharing his ideas...)

The building is an old wood stucture house with high ceiling located in Taipei's old district...few minutes away Yuan Huan Night Market. The owner Mr. Kao used to serve as Secretary Feneral for Taipei Tea Merchants Association... He found this place, and turn it around, but remain the feature, the remodel is very useful...A tea shop in the front, with a half-moon tea cupping and tasting counter for Mr. Kao to serve his new customers convienently...with every thing he needs for making a pot of tea... built around the counter... He got his tea and tea set dispaly very easy to browse...In the middle is a food stand and a bar counter for preparing tea and snacks to serve...Inside there are 5 tables for seating...perfect for some one who like to sip tea in a quiet corner, or to have a private party... (we like to know: do you like it?)

Mr. Kao told us he likes to use yixing teapot and cups...not in traditional small size...he insists that he wants to challenge his customers to use 500 cc pot and cup per order to enjoy tea...No refill... (we like to find out: can you take it?)

Okay, another reason we arrange our group to be here, because Mr. Kao has great snacks to go with your order... well, Josephine likes them... (we like to find out: do you like the modification of British Afternoon Tea to Mr. Kao's tea serving style?)

By the way, why name the tea house - "19 Tea House" ?
As seen on the sign hung on the wall that can be seen in our first photo - it might reflect Mr. Kao's philosophy:
"19" in Mandarin pronunciation means "Food & Wine" - he feels that fine tea has been set in a style of sipping in small cup...for a long long time...he will like to upset the traditionl...500 cc hot tea bottom up!? (You tell me.)

Monday, August 3, 2009

2009 TOST - Pouchong - Drying (6/22/2009@Pinling)

The rolled leaves were moved over to the dryer for the drying process...
To see the leaves came out from the dryer... we were so excited...
After a whole day of tea manufacturing, we were truly a happy bunch and grateful to the two masters, Mr. Peng Rei-Cheng and Mr. Liao Cheng-Hao. Also, we appreciate TRES Wenshan Branch offers us such a great facility to have our hands on experience.

2009 TOST - Pouchong - Rolling (6/22/2009@Pinling)

To roll the leaves mainly to shape up the form and also to squeeze out the juice of the leaves from inside out...But to see how the leaves were amazingly rolled in a half-moon pan is great experience...(Some of our members told me that they will find chance to day.

2009 TOST - Pouchong - Panning (6/22/2009@Pinling)

Due to the limited eauipments for panning and each member only got so little volume of leaves...
TTMA and TRES staff did suggest to blend in every member's leaves to be panned together...
Not as great as we were expected, but safety issue is also highly concerned...Our two tea masters took over the leaves that accomplished the proper withering and oxidizing process by our members...they heat up the pan (around 230 degree C) and firing for 2-3 minutes...this process also known as De-Enzyme, to stop the enzyme in the leaf to go further oxidizing. Not an easy job indeed.

2009 TOST - Pouchong - Indoor Withering - 6 (6/22/2009)

Wow...hard to believe that whole room filled with luscious arom...smell like Osmanthus flowers...
Per tea master, due to these leaves were machine-harvested, and also the timing is kind of close to Summer...the leaves yield out the fragrance faster and stronger...but not guaranteed that our finished tea will be that much great...very sad to hear this statement...
One hour and 45 minutes more...this will be the last run of fluffing...and all the leaves will be placed in one tray and we fluffed the leaves around...and let the leaves rest again...

2009 TOST - Pouchong - Indoor Withering - 5 (6/22/2009)

We did enjoy our visit to the tea much to learn there...
On our way back from the garden, there were several groups of friends waiting at the withering room for us...the reporters from local TV station and several board directors from TTMA...
The leaves are soft now, but we were told to be even more careful...not to break the leaves...
more fluffing...and let the leaves rest for another hour and half...
We went upstairs for a Pouchong Cupping that arranged by TRES, Wenshan Branch Dr. Chen.

2009 TOST - Pouchong - Indoor Withering - 4 (6/22/2009)

Back to TRES on time after lunch...
Our tea master showed us the leaves' status...more fluffing...
So we did, and then left for TRES' organic tea gardens to check different cultivars...

2009 TOST - Pouchong - Indoor Withering - 3 (6/22/2009)

After the leaves withered further, we were told by the tea master to try to toss and fluff the leaves...every move requires careful touch...Looks like we are improving a bit...
Boys...the frangrance is coming out more...
Let the leaves rest for another 2 hours, per tea master...
So Josephine is calling us to get on bus for our lunch time...

2009 TOST - Pouchong - Indoor Withering - 2 (6/22/2009)

Our tea master checked the leaves' status...
Now, we need to break our tea leaves from two trays to 4 trays, make it thinner spreaded...also we learn how to fluff the leaves...Not so easy for the first timer...lucky we have so many experienced tutors there to help...look at Greg and Cori...finally...the leaves can rest again...
(Our members were "resting" on the upstair's class room to have a review by Mr. Liao and Jackson....)

2009 TOST - Pouchong - Indoor Withering - 1 (6/22/2009)

After the solar withering, the leaves were moved indoor, rested on the shelves.
How much time for the solar withering ?
It all depends on the sun light, the temperature and humidity...tea maser judges it by their experience and checking the leaves' status...
When the master calls for an action: "Move the leaves inside now." We responded it immediately...after enjoy a sun it is time for the leaves to get rested...

2009 TOST - Pouchong - Solar Withering (6/22/2009@Pinling)

We have been waiting for this moment...hands on making one of the World's most natural aromatic teas - Formosa Pouchong...
The fresh leaves were delivered to the TRES Wenshan Branch around 10 AM, we were explained by Dr. Cheng of TRES about the procedure, and there are two skillful tea masters on site to guide us through...
Every member got 2 kgs of the fresh plucked leaves and here we go:

2009 TOST - Grand Cupping (6/27/2009)

It is such an important event and becomes our tradition now....
Last year, for the TOST 2008, Norman did surprise everyone with the presentation of Grand Cupping at his factory at the end of our program. This year, we request him to have this event as well. On 6/27/2009 afternoon, our bus came in to Sha Keng Tea Manufactory at Sha Keng Village, Hen Shan Hsiang, Hsin Chu County...
Here are a series of photos showing that our TOST 2009 members focusing a Grand Cupping of Taiwan Oolongs...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Certification Ceremony of TOST 2009 (6/27/2009)

On the evening of June 27, 2009...after our trip back from Guansi...
Everyone took a shower and get ready to the restaurant - Shui Min Lou, for our Certification Ceremony. On behalf of TTMA, Norman and Ted did prepare gifts for every member. We got an beautiful Porcelain Gongfu Tea Set, one TTMA Cupping Set, plus 4 tins each of our own Signature Pouchong and Oriental Beauty, that we did partially hands on making them. (Bob and Cori brought their tea to share with everyone...and Josephine and I have noticed that along our entire trip Kirsten did present the gift she brought to the owners of the places we visit..these are something so nice to be remembered.) Our last course for the farewell dinner are two large bowls of Jade Oolongs, another tea tasting to complete the study. (Greg volunteered to serve for everyone to show his appreciation...) There were so many touching words shared among "graduates" and our sponsors "TTMA"...
We also noticed that Ken will soon be chairing STI. We sincerely wish Norman and Ken, the two chiefs for STI & TTMA can work out certain meaningful programs to serve both organizations' members...SOON...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

TOST 2009 on Taiwan TV News (B)

On 6/23/2009, we visited Yilan tea district. Hakka TV News reporters Mr. Tseng and Mr.Peng made another trip to meet us at a tea farmer Mr.Wu's shop. It is indeed a very nice story - one of group member: Ken Rudee, Barnes & Watson Fine Teas (Seattle, WA) won the first place award in World Tea Expo 2009 for the Jade Oolong Contest, he decided to bring his award to present to Mr.Wu for sharing the honor. After having several rounds of Prized teas there, we then continue to visit more tea gardens on Tatung, Sansin area...

TOST 2009 on Taiwan TV News (A)

On 6/22/2009, our first hands on making Pouchong...
Unexpectedly, Taiwan's Hakka TV News reporters Ms. Huang and Mr.Peng popped in TRES Wenshan Branch to interview our group members, and also gave us a very nice report. Please enjoy this video news clip that was broadcasted on 6/22/2009...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

2009 Taiwan Oolongs Study Tour - Part I

2009 Taiwan Oolongs Study Tour was taken placed smoothly during June 21-28.
We have taken over 3000 photos during our trip. Per our group members said it well:
Others might enjoy watching these photos, but these pictures surely will refresh our good memories...

Due to the blogger's limitation, we have to post our selected photos in Part I and Part II.

Our sincere thanks to all the participants:
Kirsten Kristensen, Tea 4 U, LLC, (Ocean, NJ. USA)
Robert Krul, CTC Brewt Corporation, (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)
Cory Krul, Cornelia Bean Ltd. (Winnipeg, MB. Canada)
Ken Rudee, Barnes & Watson Fine Teas, (Mercer Island, WA. USA)
Richard and Richy Sakuma, Sakuma Bros. Farms Inc., (Burlington, WA. USA)
Greg Smith, Student, (Carrboro, NC. USA)
Elise Scott, Pearl Fine Teas, (Washington D.C. USA)
Josephine Pan, Organic Teas Only, Inc. (San Marino, CA. USA)
Thomas Shu, ABC TEA, (Baldwin Park, CA. USA)

We know, without our Sponsor, Taiwan Tea Manufacturers' Association (TTMA), this program won't happen. We appreciate these Representatives from TTMA:
Norman Shu, Chairman
Ted Fan, Secretary General
Jackson Huang, Senior Advisor
David Liao, Advisor

This is our second trip, a very intensive program for all to hands on making Pouchong, Oriental Beauty and Press Tea...what a great experience.
We sure are looking forward to our next trip!

2009 Taiwan Oolongs Study Tour - Part II

Friday, July 24, 2009

2009 TOST - More to link...

This morning, I've linked Josephine's 3 Albums on this blog.
Two photo albums are listed on our column of Taiwan Oolongs Study Tour (June/2009), where now we have Kirsten's slideshows, Elise' videos, and Josephine's albums.

I decide to add one more column:
Searching for the 1st USDA Certified Organic Taiwan Oolong to host Josephine's another album of her adventure to vist Big Elephant, our organic oolong farmer Mr. Yang, on 7/3/2009.
Again, there are more photos, videos to be added on...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Awesome! Kirsten's TOST 2009 Slideshows

This is great!
Every member of our group did take many photos and videos during the trip. The point is how do we arrange these photos to be reviewed?
Kirsten did an awesome job here:
She guides us through the whole field trip with each stop and it is really helpful.
I believe Ken got a lot more to show...but we haven't seen his production from 2008 yet.
I remembered that Elise kept buying more disks...she must have a lot more far, I have seen two of her videos on the facebook...
Richard is the one got many video clips...sometimes we saw him busy with two camcoders on both hands to shoot...
I know Cory and Bob got many good shots, too...
Josephine did copy her 3000+ photos on my desk top...I kind of figuring out how I want to post them just now...after I re-do our TOST 2008 photos...
Boys...these precious photos can really help to fresh up our good memories.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

2008 TOST - Some special moments

These are some special moments...

2008 TOST - More Cuppings...

During our trip, we were learning Taiwan Oolongs by visiting tea farmers, tea plants, tea plantations...and we review our learning by cupping. We enjoy cupping teas with farmers, and to observe different brewing skill with various tea sets. TTMA did arrange Review Cupping for each stop, and at the end, we were treated with a Grand Cupping...

On behalf of TTMA, Norman presented to every member a personal cupping set (which consists of one aroma cup and one sipping cup) as shown on the following photo, plus a 3 pcs Cupping set specially designed for Taiwan Oolong for our members to take home to practice.

2008 TOST - Certification Ceremony (10/28/2008)

Our program came to an end with a banquet prepared by TTMA. Those directors seated in Educational Committee of TTMA were greeting every member of TOST 2008 at the restaruant. The following photos were takend at the Certification Ceremony. Aaron presentd a Thank You card to TTMA, headed by Chairman Norman Shu and Executive Board Directors and Secretary General Ted Fan. Caroline presented a Thank You card to our conductor Mr. jackson Huang. Every one got chance to share what he/she had in is such a great bunch ! (**Norman did not forget to prepare two large bowls of Jade Oolong to challenge our members to grade and identify the cultivars...but ...James and Devan did make a great fun at him...) The program of TOST 2008 might came to an end...but the mission of taking the knowledge of Taiwan Oolongs to extend the education to tea consumers at the Northern Amercia just begins.

2008 TOST - Walking around Taipei tea district (10/28/2008)

On the morning of 10/28/2008 - finally, it was an easy schdule for our group members!
Jackson came in Tong Wu Hotel at 9 am, briefly explained about Taipei's tea business district and then he lead us to start a walking tour...from Taipei's first street for trading: Quede Street, where the old British tea traders and old custom house were located...Taipei's first Wholesalers' street: Dihua Street, where still is the wholesale center for Taiwan's import Herb and Foods. We also walked along the first street for Taipei's Jewelry, Fashion and Night Entertainments: Yenping North Road...and then we dropped in to the office of Taipei City Tea Merchants' Associaton, where we were greeted and to be introduced about the Lady God, Cha Jiao Ma Tsu, who was worshiped by tea pros in Taiwan from the early days till now. (**There is a big annual celebration for greeting the Lady God to visit Pinling tea estate. Also, tea merchants in Taipei will take term to be the Chair of Celebration, decided by throw "Bua-Buei" in front of Ma Tsu.)
Taipei's major tea wholesalers are spreading around this area. Great place to visit!

2008 TOST - Grand Cupping (10/27/2008@Sha Keng)

I have emphasized it to TTMA that our TOST group will like to have as many tea cuppings as here it is the Grand Cupping we got on the 10/27/2008 at Sha Keng Tea Manufactory, which owned by Jackson Huang and run by Norman Shu. They have prepared 4 Oriental Beauty, 4 Pouchong, 4 Aged Oolongs, 3 grades of Gin-suan, 3 grades of Tsui-yu, 3 Grades of Chin-sin, 3 grades of Four Season Spring; plus 6 different Gaoshan Cha Oolongs sent in from different mountain tops with various elevations, got to the factory for cupping right before that afternoon. (**A special request by our member: Ken Rudee) Ruby 18 and Burgundy Oolong...That was a marvelous arrangement by Norman and his staff!
Our members were busy cupping each tea and write their logs...just by seeing these photos, you will know how important for our TOST members to learn and review simultaneously.

2008 TOST - Gaoshan Cha, here we come! Shanlinsi (10/26/2008)

After our Jade Oolong Review Cupping, we took two mini buses to head on High Mountains. We were arranged to visit two of the famous 18 mountains in Shanlinsi area. The first mountain top we stopped is Jugewan, the owner is Mr. Huang. His tea plant is very high-tech alright. Our group members were too excited to take photos all over the mountain...The second mountain top is Mr. Chen's garden at the Lungfenghsia. Again, too many to see, and only to see is to believe how steep the tea garden is located...The elevation for both mountains are about 6600 ft high...
We were wondering: how do they overcome to ontrol the solar withering at such a high elevation environment? How do they solve the problem with limited space for the indoor withering and oxidizing? Jackson and Norman leaded the way to answer all our questions. We did appreciate the best hospitality from Mr. Huang and Mr. Chen. This trip indeed is an eye-open experience. Even later, we were down to Lugu to visit the Museum by Lugu Tea farmers' Association, we were still talking about our trip to Shanlinsi. Apparently, after Shanlinsi, our members were less interested in Tung-Ting. We were rushed to catch our high speed train back to Taipei that evening. (Well, we did have good time on the bullet train of Taiwan...later.)

2008 TOST - Review Cupping (10/26/2008@ Nantou Hotel)

Our group checked in Nantou Hotel late evening of 10/25/2008 after we all enjoyed a wholeday visiting Jade Oolong's harvesting, withering, oxidizing and panning & rolling...Most of us still in jet lag I in the early morning of 10/26, I met Donna and Nez, Bill and Aaron...on the park on the cross street...where they walked around and discussed about what they've seen yesterday...
After our breakfast, Norman Shu did prepare a whole table of Jade Oolongs for our members to do the cupping. It is my idea, to have tea cuppings as a review of our previous day's activities. From these photos, you will know how serious we are!

2008 TOST - Tea Gardens at Yilan (10/29/2008)

On 10/29/2008, one day after our Taiwan Oolongs Study Tour program officially ended on the previous evening...due to several members' flights are late evening of 10/29, TTMA is very nice to arrange the bonus tour to visit Yilan area...this is something new for TTMA, too. We were there to see few tea gardens and unbelievably that few of our members enjoy the Aged Oolongs and the Award Winning Jade Oolong from Mr. Wu. They bought all of his inventory. That is something unexpected. We also visit Taiwan Traditional Arts Center and some of our group members were rushing for final minute shopping for souvenirs to take home... On the way back, we visited a tea farmers co-op and have some fine tea they made... This bonus trip actually will set a good example for TTMA on its planning for future schedule of other study groups here in Taiwan.

Friday, July 17, 2009

2008 TOST - Jade Oolong's indoor withering & oxidizing (10/25/2008)

Indoor Withering: After Solar Withering, the tea leaves are moved to the indoor withering room (Modern factory equipped Air-con to control temperature) and lightly placed on bamboo plates for storing. Each plate with tea leaves spreaded about 5-10 mm thick. One hour later, the leaves are shaken and stirred 2-3 times by hand, and then replaced on racks for storing. After about 1-2 hours, as the fresh leaf's aroma becomes noticeable, the leaves are shaken and stirred more heavily 5-6 times for a second round, and replaced for storing. After another 1-2 hours the leaf begins to present the fragrant aroma, and is ready for a third round of shake a stir approximately 10-12 times more forcefully by hand. The leaves are again stored on racks for about 1-2 hours. Finally, the leaves are placed in a bamboo tumbling machine ffor 24-30 minutes, to stir and also evenly mix the withered and lightly oxidized leaves...and then allow the leaves to cool down for 1-3 hours before panning. (**Per Master Huang: Every tea master might have minor different steps and practices to control the indoor withering and oxidizing...
that makes the difference in the quality.) One thing is for sure: Whoever experiences the whole process of indoor withering will never forget how amazingly the leaf has gone through and the natual aroma is created...While we left the tea plant, the whole village near by simply filled with lusciuos aroma in air we breathed...unforgetable experience!

2008 TOST - Jade Oolong's solar withering (10/25/2008)

Sunshine plays a very important role in Taiwan Oolong's processing. Per our tea master Jackson Huang, with or without solar withering makes a huge difference in making good oolong tea. Experienced tea master works like a commander in battle field, decides when and what to do according to the leaf's withered status he/she detects. Nowadays, some farmers will install sun-shades for better control. Don't be surprised to see some tea plants even have their sun-shades equipped with remote-control for working closely with the constantly changing sun light and the temperature...
According to Jackson: Solar Withering (sunshine withering): The length of time allowed for withering depends on the strength of the sunlight, and usually lasts for about fifteen minutes up to one hour. When the first leaf has become withered and the second leaf appears dark in color, the leaves are moved indoor to continue the withering process. The purpose of solar withering is to increase the leaf's temperature, which facilitates a chemical change within the leaf, as the moisture level is decreased by approximately 10%.

2008 TOST - Havest the fresh leaf (10/25/2008)

On the early morning of 10/25/2008, we took our chartered bus from Dong Wu Hotel, Taipei Old Town, all the way to MingJien, Nantou County. Our first stop is to visit a tea garden belongs to farmer Mr. Chen, at Sun Po Keng. TTMA pre-arranged for our group members to observe fresh leaves that harvested by machine.
(*We were told that we will have more opportunities to view hand-plucked during our trip.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

2009 World Tea Expo - Reunion of TOST Class 2008

We had our "Class 2008 -Taiwan Teas Study Program" reunion party on 5/2/2009 in Las Vegas.
It was such a warm and wonderful evening with these good friends.
Like our beloved Taiwan Oolong Teas, friendship between us is exciting, sparkling sweet, and unforgettable.

2008 Taiwan Oolongs Study Tour (October/2008)

The first Taiwan Teas Study Tour was finally launched on October 24, 2008. 15 tea professionals including Josephine and Thomas from the United States were in the team. This 7-day study program was sponsored by Taiwan Tea Manufactures' Association and conducted by Jackson Huang, a Taiwan Tea Master and Sr. Advisor to TTMA.