Wednesday, January 26, 2011
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.
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 oil...plus 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.
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
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..."
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 garden...you 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
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.
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
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: