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.)