Thursday, November 3, 2016

2016 TOST - Opening Ceremony (20161027)

2016 TOST, our 9th year and we expect to be another good trip.  This one, we will highlight the first time, Hands on making Taitung Oolong.  We also will visit Pei-Cheng for the study on Foodservice design and practice. We will have plenty tea shops and tea bars to stop by and observe.  We will have many cupping and tasting wherever we go... and of course, we will visit TRES in Wenshan and Taitung.  I am obliged to many tea farmers, factories, tea stores owners, tea companies CEO... they are so generous and willing to open their facilities to greet our visits.  Sincerely, we treasure each TOST's group learning experience, and we believe this one will be another hit!  Go TOST 2016!

2016 TOST - Visit TRES / Wenshan Branch (20161028)

TRES, Taiwan Tea Research and Extension Station, established back in 1903 by Japanese for the thorough R&D about the soil, weather, cultivar, plantation management, processing technique and equipment renovation, and training for farmers to get updated.  There are total 3 branches (Wenshan, Yuchih, Taitung) and sub-branch in Tung-Ting, plus the HQ in Yangmei.  Geographically, these 5 stations are focusing 5 major tea districts in Taiwan.  I always share my respect and appreciation to TRES for their great contribution to Taiwan Tea Industry in many of my tea presentations.  It is about the Team Efforts, and TRES plays its important role.  Without TRES, TOST program will looks less meaningful.

2016 TOST - Visit Shang Lin Tea Factory (20161028)

Farmers in Wenshan district, team up to have Co-Op ISO tea factory.  This is indeed helping the whole district to upgrade with food safety issue.  We are grateful to the hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Ueng to guide us to tour their tea factory...and not only to enjoy the Pouchong they made, also we are having Formosa Bonita: Ruby 18 at the factory.  It is a good adjustment that TRES / Wenshan Branch has helped the local farmers to do Spring, Autumn and Winter Crops with lightly oxidized Pouchong, and have the Summer crop leaf for Formosa Bonita.  I have found that more cultivars are planted in Wenshan tea district besides traditional Chinsing Oolong cultivar, now they have many Jin Suang, Ruby 18, also BeeYu, Ying Hsiang...that TRES develops.  A few farmers have worked with us to do Buddha's Palm and Hsui Hsien cultivars for our Amber Oolong projects.  Wenshan Tea District plays such an important role in Taiwan tea history. 

2016 TOST - Visit Hsiang Tai Tea in Pinling for Pouchong Study (20161028)

At Hsiang Tai Tea House, the young tea master, Aka Feng helps us to do blind cupping on Wenshan Pouchong.  We have more than 3 generations working relationship with Hsiang Tai.  I am so glad that Aka and his younger brother are willing to carry on the family business.  They have different ideas and they will work out their own way of bringing Wenshan Pouchong to another dimension: With skillful baking technique to get vintage Pouchong.  We learn about fresh and green Pouchong, we also will enjoy Vintage Pouchong.  As we often said, tea is to encounter not to pursue.  Mother nature might challenge tea pro with their wisdom not complaint.  Go Wenshan Pouchong!

2016 TOST - Arriving Lin Wang Tea for our hands on making Taitung Oolong experience (Day 1) (20161028)

Our domestic flight arrives Taitung late...and right after we put down our back packs...Phone call from Mr. Lin to ask our members over to the Lin Wang Tea Factory, where we are going to hands on study Taitung Oolong.  Mr. Lin wants us to check the tea in the process of oxidation... Our schedule is really tight and we need to start our course from the late evening... That is exactly what we want...
TOST 2016 hands on making Taitung Oolong!

2016 TOST - Hands on making Taitung Oolong (Day 2) (20161029)

 Continue the second day at Lin Wang Tea to hands on making Taitung Oolong.  During the breaks, we always have classes, cuppings, discussions...  This is exactly what TOST about...

2016 TOST - Visit TRES / Taitung Branch (20161029)

TRES / Taitung Branch has a few good research tea plantations here to study the Tropical tea growing condition.  Also to help tea farmers in Taitung / Hualien and Pintung, Kaohsiung areas with updated technology and cultivars.  Taitung Oolong is the great R&D product from this branch.  Thanks to Director Wu, also Master Fan and Mr. Huang for taking their own weekend time to guide us touring the gardens and facility there,  Our members have enjoyed a blind cupping contest on Taitung Oolong and Byron wins the prize.

2016 TOST - Hands on making Taitung Oolong (Day3) (20161030)

This is the 3rd day of our Taitung trip... tired but feeling the achievement.  Finished our "Hand on making Taitung Oolong" @ Lin Wang Tea.

2016 TOST - Walking around DaDaoCheng (20161031)

The reason TOST picks Dong Wu Hotel as our official site since 2008, not only it is a very cozy hotel but also the location. We want a place that we can feel the Tea, with old tea factories, tea warehouses, tea stores, tea baking rooms, tea merchants association... all within walking distance.  Our members can take their own paths after the TOST program to do their continuous study or tea adventure.

2016 TOST - Visit TCTMA (20161031)

Here in Dadaocheng, Taipei's old business district, tea trade plays such an important role.  Many entrepreneurs in Textile, Electronics industry actually originated from tea trade.  We decide to bring our members to visit Taipei City Tea Merchants Association.  They have kept so many historical documentation, old tea labels, old tea packages... A good place to dig for Taiwan's tea history.

2016 TOST - stop by an Incent / Tea Shop in Taipei's old district (20161031)

Walking around Old district and heading toward Chung Shan North Road, one of most busy business street in Taipei... Josephine suggests to stop by an Incent/Tea Shop - Cha Hsiang Zhi Zhai.

2016 TOST - Visit Wang Der Chuan (20161031)

Wang Der Chuan, a well branded Taiwan Tea Company. We have met Ms. Lynn Wang at the 2016 World Tea Expo through Steve Huang's introduction.  I have made a scouting in August and decided to add this wonderful stop for our members to learn WDC's Branding strategy and also to study its unique store design and tea display with full information to help shoppers.  Thanks to Lynn for her open-minded to receive our visit and an excellent presentation before we tour her tea shop at Chung Shan N. Road.  An impressive visit !

2016 TOST - Visit Tea Shops in Eslite Spectrum @ Culture Creative Park (20161031)

A few of our members are willing to visit more tea shops after dinner.  I suggest to walk over to Eslite Spectrum in Taipei's new Culture Creative Center.  There are a few tea shops in the big book store.

2016 TOST - Visit HGT (20161101)

Our super star Johhny Tu has kept winning many Awards and Recognition during the year of 2016. He has several engaged schedules and need to rush to Taipei to receive another plaque... BUT he decided to send his assistant to the ceremony first and stay with our TOST friends till the last minute. Great experience to visit HGT and to see how Taiwan's tea farmer successfully transformed into a successful Enterprise with own tea gardens, contracted gardens and crude tea factory, refinery...tea stores, tea bars...and HGT branded packaged teas at major departments stores and also nice hotels.
We are glad to have HGT be our good partner for our TOST program.

2016 TOST - Visit TTC / TongLuo Tea Factory (20161101)

On the way from HGT to Asia-Pacific Institute of Creativity, we thought we need to add one more stop.  I have checked TTC for the availability of the renovated TongLuo tea factory of theirs.  The answer is YES.  2016 TOST might be one of the first few groups here to visit...and apparently, still not in well set.  The new tea plantation still too early to see...and the processing facility more like to offer for tourists DIY.  Well, give them time, it could be very different.  Thanks to our friend, Rick Li's good efforts to help our arrangement to be here in TongLuo Tea Factory in Miaoli.

2016 TOST - Visit Master Lan @ Asia-Pacific Institute of Creativity (20161101)

Master Lan has good efforts to devote his knowledge and high spirit in tea education.  In this Institute he has special faculty of tea training for college students also for on jobs training to many farmers and staff sent by tea companies.  This visit, he picks one of his student to lead the tour and explain about the program.  We also visited the Tea Nursery in Asia-Pacific Institute to study the cultivars.

In Taiwan, tea farmers used to hand down their experience and skill...but sometimes, they cannot satisfy the younger generation with 'Tea-Science' and proper training courses.  Asia-Pacific is filling the puzzle.

2016 TOST - Visit SKT & Fu Yuan Tea (20161101)

We have been running late to arrive Sha Keng Tea Factory in Hsinchu, where my father (95 year young) and my sisters are waiting and waiting... Also Mr. Huang family of Fu Yuan Tea Factory in Taoyuan has kept calling Josephine for our arrival impatiently ...  This is the problem in TaoChuMiao tea district, so many to see and so little time we can spare...

2016 TOST - Visit Pei-Chen Corp. for Foodservice Study (20161102)

Mr. Roger Yu is a very successful and generous Foodservice tea industry leader.  We met him at 2016 World Tea Expo and talked about including his company in our 2016TOST schedule.  Our members will be interested in learning more about the Supplying System behind boba tea bars.  Our time at Pei-Chen has been way over our planned many to see and to ask, also the Pei-Chen team surprises us with a series of new concepts and new developments in serving new tea beverages... with enticing menus.
We are in Oolong business, but how to make Oolong serving with efficiency at foodservice sites, Hotels and Resorts, yet remain good aroma, taste, plus the ambient we want... Pei-Chen seems to have the solution for us.
Just see the photos to find our members really have good time at Pei-Chen Corp.

2016 TOST - Visit TTC / Sanhsia Refinery Factory (20161102)

There is good reason why we have arranged this stop in our TOST schedule.  In the past few years, we often end our program with either visiting old tea factories, or walking around old tea business district.  Many of our TOST friends got the image that Taiwan tea is really either in small farmer scale, or those big tea factories are fairy old and outdated.
Josephine and I have decided to ask TTC, Taiwan Tea Corporation, for a favor to open their facility to TOST members to visit.  TTC, used to be Mitsui Norin during Japanese colonized Taiwan.  They have several large tea plants in each tea district, and they also invested modern refinery factory in Sanhsia, New Taipei City.
We promised the manager, NO PICTURE, just to have a guided tour in the facility.  Our members are very impressed with their modern baking units for high quality Oolong baking, and of course, a large scale sifting process line with a few huge blending mixers for the commercial blends.
Thanks to TTC's support and we are glad that 2016 TOST did make it to visit Sanhsia Refinery Factory.

2016 TOST - Visit Yinge Sanshe for Tea Ware (20161102)

Every year, we know that our members will like to stop by some tea houses to shop for a few tea ware for gifts or for the business.  We like to bring TOST friends to visit Yinge, Taiwan's ceramic town in TaoChuMiao tea district.  This town is very close to Taipei City, so our members can always find their own time to visit here again. 

Everyone has different interests... just see how serious when they shop for tea ware at Sanshe.

2016 TOST - Stop by Zhi-Ru-Yuan Tea House (20161102)

In my August scouting trip, I found this tea house near Taoyuan Airport, so I decided to check it out.  I personally enjoy the place with multi-functions, great to have tea theme gatherings with their unique setup and nice collections.  Therefore, we made this stop for our TOST friends to see a tea house outside the city, with designed bonsai garden and various style tea rooms to meet different groups... The tea bar is well equipped to serve tea party, too.
Please enjoy some photos taken there... Zhi-Ru-Yuan

2016 TOST - Visit IMEI Foods for Food Safety Study (20161102)

Luckily, we have Mr. Luis Ko, owner of IMEI Foods, to back up our TOST program ever since his awareness of this program from Josephine, while he was invited as Keynote speaker for TUF's banquet event.  He encourages us to guide our TOST friends to tour around his Nan-Kang Factory, especially the advanced Laboratory.  We also enjoy to visit IMEI's stories display room, and ec0-park.
It is a great ending for TOST trip.  For Tea industry, we do have a good example to learn from as for the food safety concern.

Please enjoy the photos on our VISIT IMEI.

2016 TOST - Closing Ceremony (20161103)

After 8 days study together, we are so excited for Taiwan tea industry that we are going to have these new Ambassadors for Taiwan Tea !  2016 TOST is such an amazing group and a great learning experience with these members from the day 1 till this closing ceremony.
More photos to be reviewed on our Closing Ceremony.