Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 TOST - Visit King Tai Tea Factory (10/22/2011)

Kuanshi, Hsinchu is a small town, population here is about 28,000, shrunk from 60,000 half century ago. This town is famous for the Longevity of its residents. (Partially because of great environment, but many young people moved out due less jobs opportunities.) Yet this town used to be an important place for Taiwan's tea industry back in 1930-1970. King Tai Tea Factory is one of those big tea manufacturers is reserved and displayed as it was since old days. We appreciate the owner - Lo family's generosity and kindness for willing to convert this big old tea factory to be a museum for visit.

2011 TOST - Visit FORTEACO (10/22/2011)

FORTEACO (Formosa Black Tea Co) is a must visit place of our TOST program. We have returned to this place for the fourth time, and every time, Mr. Lou and his team always present us something new on their display. In addition to a briefing along the guided tour, plus a great film about the company's history...our members are actually having a session of "History of Taiwan Tea Industry". This year we even arranged a Taiwan Tea Forum at the conference room of FORTEACO.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

2011 TOST - Taipei Old Tea District (10/23/2011)

On 10/23/2011, the last day of our 2011 TOST program... all members were having a walking tour around Taipei's old tea district. Dong Wu Hotel actually is right in this district. We have stopped by some sites of old tea refineries...old exporters warehouses...big wholesalers corners...the famous Dihua Street, Quede Street, Harbor Dadaochen... Lee Chun-Shen memorial chapel...

Friday, November 11, 2011

2011 TOST - Certificates Ceremony (10/23/2011)

How is coming to an end of 2011 Taiwan Oolongs Study Tour already.
We don't know how much our members have learned from this program... Yet, we are sure that we do enjoy this group very much from the viewpoint of organizer. Taiwan Tea Manufacturers Association has made a change on its role in conducting this TOST program. Josephine and I actually have to take the full responsibility of managing the whole many people that we are grateful for their supports and assistance...and it seems that the weather this year is extremely good to us. We are truly blessed.
This year, we decided to have the certificates to be presented by our members, one to another. As we feel this is truly a group learning experience, and it is the best way to do so.
Please enjoy these good moments of ours.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

2011World Tea Expo - TOST Members Reunion

During the 2011 World Tea Expo - we are glad to have our good friends stopped by TTMA booth to say hi. Here is the list: Nez and Donna, Newman, Icy Bob and Spicy Bob, Michele, Bill, Ken, Yoon-Hee, Hoda, Melissa, Aaron, Devan, James Norwood and Carolina. Very nice of them and good to see every one being cool and well.
Special thanks to Aaron, Hoda & Melissa, Icy and Spicy Bob, Devan and James Norwood, for being able to step on TTMA's stage to help out on some sessions.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

2010 TOST - Opening Ceremony

This is the 3rd year of our Taiwan Oolongs Study Tour program.
10/17/2010 evening, we gathered all of our members and walked over to TTMA's office. Not only the Board Directors there to greet us, also the World's most famous tea cultivars - are potted and displayed to say hi to all of our members. This is where we start our study.
Besides the photos, I got a few video clips to record our members' expectation about this trip. I will then have more video clips to reflect their thoughts after the program.

2010 TOST - Wenshan Tea Farm on 10/18/2010

This is our first stop of the TOST 2010 -
Wenshan Tea Farm is a jewel of Taiwan tea's history. We were having our hands on Pouchong making in 2009 at TRES/Wenshan Branch. This year, I feel like to lead our members to see this s place that established in 1937 as Taiwan's Pouchong Tea Research and experiment Center, which later moved to the current facility in 1987. Apparently, not much R&D is done here any more, yet the tea gardens and all facilities still remain well, becomes a new attraction for tea lovers' DIY experience and also a beautiful natural garden for tourists. Farmers in the area, still send in their Pouchong for the refinery here.
I enjoy visiting this place not any less than the current TRES / Wenshan Branch, because the view, the historical traces... Walk along the roads and check among those experiment tea might happen to encounter with some treasure and historical marks. We are lucky that we got Mr. Yen to explain to our members during our visit.

Monday, May 9, 2011

2010 TOST - Tse-Xin Organic Farm in Wenshan

We were told about the story of 淨源茶, and Josephine and I both agreed to include this farm in our TOST 2010 schedule after our visit to Wenshan Pouchong Tea Farm.
淨源 means to make sure the water reservoir not to be poluted. This is the mission of this Tse-Xin group to work on. Tea is the main agriculture product in Wenshan area, and they were taking one farmer at a time to join their co-op to have organic practice.
Our group members are greeted and treated like true VIP on 10/18/2010 visit. My college classmate, Glendy Lee is a long time volunteer in Tse-Xin, and with her arrangement...a great vegetarian buffet lunch is served. After the presentation and tea tasting, we are in tour to see their new tea plant. Good to learn that more and more tea farmers are willing to adopt the program and to have Organic tea not only to meet and quench tea lovers' thirsty...also to help make sure the residents of Taipei City can enjoy good water resource. City by city, one tea district at a time, this truly a beautiful story. I hope we can work with this group closely.

2010 TOST - Visit Jia Tien Organic Tea Garden

On 10/19/2010, we took bus and left Taipei in the early morning for a three day south-bound field trip. In the bus, most members are excited and busy chatting, though some are still having their jet lag...
Before we heading to TRES/Yuchih Branch, we made a stop to visit Jia Tien Organic Tea Garden located in Minjian, Nantou County. The owner is Mr. Chen, who got NOP Organic Certified for his tea plantation. Our members got to check out his tea garden and listen to his presentation right at the tea field.

2010 TOST - Hands On @TRES - Yuchih Branch

The fresh tea leaves were delivered to Yuchih before we arrive. Steve Huang, our instructor greets all of our members and a series of hands on tea making experiences in a long day just started. There were facilities tours inside the branch, plus many sessions of classes, discussions and cuppings during each break between outdoor withering and indoor withering, and the waiting time of each fluffing...till midnight. Finally, the leaf is ready for panning, rolling and drying...
We come back to finish up the canvas wrapped rolling process the second morning...
The photos here can only have very little explanation...luckily, we got Steve to get on the white board to review each step by step...Jackson, Norman, even William get their time to share with our members. What an experience in Yuchih!

2010 TOST - Stop by Lugu Farmers' Association

After we checked out TRES / Yuchih branch, we led our group to stop by the place that lighted up the fire of Tung-Ting Oolong Booming back 1n 1976. With this Farmers' Association to begin the Tea Contest then, year by year... Tung Ting Oolong became the most popular and hot demanded tea in Taiwan and got famous in the World of tea lovers. There's a museum here and several rooms for farmers' educational activities. Our members seem to have good time there!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2010 TOST - Lin J Garden, one creative tea shop in Lugu

After our visit to the TRES Tung-Ting Station, before we check in our hotel, there is one creative tea shop - Lin J Garden on the way which we found during our earlier scouting trip. I thought it will be interesting for our members to check it out. The way they designed and marketing teas by the percentage of roasting: from very lightly roasted to medium, all the way to heavily roasted... 1-10. Customers can cup a series of tea samples and find the one that fits your taste profile. Mrs. Lin is excited to serve us the iced tea that was cold brew with ice-dripping on the display...
It is always a fun to learn how tea can be marketed creatively.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

2010 TOST - Bagua Tea Garden (10/21/2010)

Checked out the hotel...we are heading to visit the one and only Bagua Tea Garden in Shanlinsi tea district. Our TOST 2008 had visited several tea gardens in Shanlinsi, but not this legendary one... Hard to believe the tea plantation could be so beautiful...and we were told this was simply an accident. Never been planned to grow tea as it looks now per Mr. Lin who's running a tea store right above the Bagua Tea Garden. Every member receives a poster of this tea garden as the gift from TTMA. A few of us are very curious about having another look of Bagua Tea Garden from another angle...that means we will explore to the tea estate right across? We leave that to TTMA's further research... After Bagua, we are heading to Alishan tea district and Steve Huang is waiting for us there to guide us to visit another two tea estates.

2010 TOST - On the road to Alishan...

Left the Bagua Tea Garden, we are moving from Shan-Lin-Si tea district to another tea district - Alishan here we come !
Our family and friends keep calling us from Taipei to check our the Typhoon brought heavy rain to the northern Taiwan...and they worry about our group...
From the photos, you can see that we got some adventure on the road.... There are road workers are still fixing the landslides from the previous stom... At some curve, we were told to stop for the clean-up of falling rocks....
While we arrive Alishan, and done visiting the two tea farmers... we know, all these adventures are well paid off.

2010 TOST - Wang Ting Tea Garden (10/21/2010)

So many beautiful pictures that we just don't feel well not to keep them all...
The visit to this tea estate is really in a perfect timing...right after the rain...Our members can't wait to jump in the tea bushes... Mr. and Mrs. Wang, the young couple are very nice to lead all of us to tour their many improvements they have equiped... I told myself, this will be the place I will like to have my hands on tea experience... (maybe for the 2011 TOST)...
Ms. Wang herself is a good collector all right. Josephine just kept taking photos on her collection in the tasting room.
Look at these photos to see how excited our members are...they are in one of the most beautiful tea gardens in Alishan... We just wish that we can stay longer there to enjoy the fresh air and happy tea bushes.

2010 TOST - Ding-Feng Taiwan Tea

This is the second stop of our visit in Meishan (part of Alishan tea district), the owner Mr. Liu and Mrs. Liu are extremely excited to meet our group members at their modern tea plant. We are really shocked to see their equipments and imagine how busy they were during the season.
It is getting dark, and we ran out of time for visiting their tea garden ...maybe next time...

Friday, February 4, 2011

2010 TOST - Visit San Hsia Tea District (10/22/2010)

After three days away from Taipei, we got an easier schedule on 10/22/2010 to visit San Hsia tea district and Yinge, the Ceramic Capital of Taiwan.
Taiwan Lung Jing (Dragon Well) and Taiwan Pi-Lo-Chun ? No kidding.
Most tea lovers will think of these two famous Green teas are only available from China, but here in Taiwan, you really can find very limited supply of Lung Jing and Pi Lo Chun, especially in San Hsia tea district. Early in 1949, there were many Chinese who followed Chiang Kai-Shek to Taiwan. They missed those green tea of their home some one started to teach the local tea farmers to make them for the demand. Due to different cultivars plus the influence of traditional Pouchong making... Taiwan Lung Jing and Taiwan Pi Lo Chun actually have their own uniqueness and loyal fans.
Mr. Lee, the owner of Cheng Chuan Tea Factory, greeted us to his store and we got chance to cup his teas (besides the two green teas he made in Spring and Autumn, during the Summer, he also makes Oriental Beauty and black tea). He then walked all of us to his tea plant. Our members were very interested in his modified Sencha machines that used for Lung Jing rolling and pressing...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2010 TOST - On the Road Again...(10/23/2010)

This is a "tea museums" day. We are heading to the home of Oriental Beauty, Beipu Hsinchu and then we have a lunch at Royal Golf Course at Guansi. (There are total 7 golf courses in this town at the foothill of Taiwan's Central Mountain range, used to be the hub of Tao-Chu-Miao, an important tea region of Taiwan tea, but tea plantations are replaced by these golf courses.) We have arranged two very different tea museums in Guansi, Chin Thai and Forteaco. We will end the day with our Grand Cupping session at Sha Keng Tea Factory in Henshan Hsinchu.

2010 TOST - Kwan-Chun PonFonCha Museum@Beipu (10/23/2010)

Surprisingly to see so many domestic tourists here when we arrived the tea museum. The owner, Mr. Peng, a senior teaman, also a member of TTMA. His old tea factory has been converted to be a PonFonCha Museum with the exhibition of tea processing equipments plus a very unique display to guide the tourists learn about how the Oriental Beauty (PonFonCha) was made...and the history of Beipu tea industry... There are many interesting antiques, such as the cupping counter that TTMA first made for their members back in 1956...and also the one and only wooden extractor for tea seed a tunnel of Pomelo tea baking... At the end of the visiting route, there is a wall for Hall of Fame in the local tea making history, which is truly a sweet idea to remember those Senbai (masters) of our tea colleagues.
There are retailing areas, very widely spreaded with all sorts of tea and herb and a big variety of souvenirs... Two major attractions for our members there are:
Tasting booth for sampling 7 grades of Oriental Beauty and a seating section for Lei Cha experience.
This is a fun place, and it is the first tea museum among the 3 that we planned to visit in a lomg day.

2010 TOST - Pomelo Teas on Baking

Mr. Peng, the owner of Kwan-Chun Tea Museum, has great idea to include the Hakka traditional Pomelo Tea baking process harmonizedly set along the path of exhibition...Feel like you're walking pass a tunnel of Pomelo teas baking room... This is a wonderful way to experience this old craft.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2010 TOST - Hands On Doing Lei Cha @Beipu (10/23/2011)

Inside the PonFonCha Tea Museum, there are several tables set for visitors to have fun of hands on making Lei Cha...Interesting enough, one butterfly, two local kids with their pet bird stay right next to our group. William Huang did not bother to take his turn to work on the Lei Cha, he was having another Hakka snack - Mochi....

What is Lei Cha?
You might find a details information in "The World of Tea" Summer 2010:
"Lei Cha means pounded tea and is a traditional Hakka beverage based on tea and a mix of various ingredients. Dry tea leaves are ground - or pounded - together with roasted nuts, seeds and grains. It is a savory drink but sugar or salt can be added for taste. Nowadays, Lei Cha can be bought commercially pre-packaged..."

2010 TOST - Searching for the Angels @ Beipu (10/23/2011)

Our bus made a short stop in one farmer's tea garden on the way from Beipu to Guansi. Norman made this arrangement for us to search for the green leaf-hoppers - the angel sent by heaven to make Taiwan's Oriental Beauty so unique. By reviewing at those pictures taken in the can see how excited our members were. Those Jacobiasca formosana (Paoli, 1936) had been very cooperative and everyone got a nice chance to have many many shots.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2010 TOST - Visit Formosa Black Tea Museum (10/23/2010)

Three years in a row, TOST has led our members to visit Formosa Black Tea Museum.
Mr. CS Lou, a senior tea professional in Taiwan and who is still working very hard with tea, not wasting any time during the season. Every year he will just keep surprise us with something different in their exhibition, plus the presentation films that they've continuously produced. There is an important reason why we like to have our study on "History of Taiwan Tea Industry" there, not only because their conference room is so comfortable, also in an environment of old tea factory with so many historical photos and antiques on display, the feeling is just overwhelming. Our members were extremely excited and won't miss to have photos in front of the classic tea cupping counter there, and thinking of so many tea buyers around the World used to cup and make deals right at the same spot...
While most people might think the company by its name must be producing Black tea at the facility, yet our members were served with bottled water dashed with steam-fired green tea powder, which is the primary product Mr. Lo is making now. It may sound funny, a black tea company that is making sencha green tea and green tea powder...yet it is how Taiwan tea industry has gone through...very flexible, and we will continue to make changes if time goes by.

2010 TOST - Visit Chin Thai Tea Museum @Guansi, Hisnchu on 10/23/2010

Guansi Township in Hsinchu County used to be the hub of Tao-Chu-Miao, one of the most important tea regions in Taiwan. At their peak time, there were quite a few large tea manufactories in town. Most of them were long gone...and even the local youngsters hardly can imagine how busy this town used to be and how many seasonal workers from the southern Taiwan were working at those tea factories. Chin Thai Tea Manufactory is one of those, and Lo Family owns it for generations. While most tea factories gradually disappeared, Lo family made a remarkable and generous decision to keep this historical tea plant remained as it is, and converted it to a tea museum to serve our community and draw many tourists to study the history of Taiwan tea industry.
To view photos or films might give us some idea about Taiwan's tea history, but to witness so many old equipments still remained set and a well designed route to see their original production lines of Pan-fired Green tea, steam-fired Green tea, Black tea, and Oolong tea...Both primary tea manufacturing and refinery process: cutting, sifting, grading, blending, packing... "To see is to believe!"
Highly obliged to the owner, Mr. Lo for his kindness and willing to cooperate with our busy schedule. He not only made a special arrangement for our group to visit after hours, and he himself also guided us with full explanation along the tour. What a treat!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2010 TOST - Grand Cupping @Sha Keng, Henshan on 10/23/2010

This is an important session for our members to review what we have learned in this trip. By cupping all these teas to refresh our program starts from day 1 all the way...Norman Shu, the Chairman of TTMA has his team set up total 33 teas for our members to do this Grand Cupping. No need to have more ecplanation...just check these photos out...everyone of them is so serious and focus in cupping and taking notes... If you think pictures aren't enough...check these video clips: