10 Amazing Photos of Taiwan Oolong Tea Farmers
The most meaningful aspect of our work in the specialty tea industry is living here in Taiwan and developing friendships with local Oolong Tea farmers and artisans. Visiting them regularly for years on end, learning something new with each meeting, seeing their toils and challenges that change with the seasons — this is the heart of the matter. The roots of tea culture are on the farms and in the homes of the farmers. All else is secondary. All the scientific research, the professional tea judging, the tea art, the promotional events — all of this comes from the farmers working their land.
Knowing where our tea comes from and what goes into the finished product offers a great deal more than a flavorful cup of tea. It is this depth of appreciation that comes from understanding the roots of tea culture that we are most inspired to share with tea lovers around the world.
Here are the faces of a handful of dedicated artisans that have crafted some our favorite batches of tea. We hope these photos will add another level of appreciation and enjoyment to your daily brew.
(Photos by Johnny CY Lam).
Dong Ding Oolong farmer, Young, in the doorway of his home and tea factory.
Dong Ding Oolong Farmer, Young, and his nephew roasting Oolong Tea.
Our good friend and Dong Ding Oolong source, Young, talking tea at his tasting table.
Shanlinxi tea small-scale tea farmer, Mr. Su, riding his monorail, maintaining his tea garden.
Shanlinxi tea farmer, and our tea source, Mr. Su, working in his tea garden.
Traditional charcoal-roasted Dong Ding Tea artisan, Mr. Su, serving tea in his home.
Pioneering Dong Ding tea farmer, our friend and teacher, Mr. Su on his farm in Yonglong Village.
Pioneering Dong Ding Tea farmer, Mr. Su harvesting spring tea in Yonglong Village.
Second generation Lugu tea farmer making spring tea in his traditional, small-scale factory.
Our friends of twenty years, Mr. and Mrs. Chen working side by side in their tea factory.
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The medium oxidized leaves have undergone extensive, repeated roastings that have resulted in a very balanced, integrated character. The initial steepings offer a freshly cut wood aroma with a toasted nutty flavor. This proceeds to open up into a sweeter, more complex profile that is strikingly reminiscent of roasted winter vegetables, including parsnip, caramelized onion and butternut squash.
Mr. Zhang's father cultivated tea on their homesteaded land in Xiaobantian, on the southside of Lugu Township, where he grew up in the midst of traditional tea making. At 20 something, he decided to embody his local tradition by clearing land to cultivate his own plot of tea. For the last 20 years, he has managed his own humble, privately owned plot of tea. Throughout this period, he also acquired seasonal work in tea factories in Lugu, Shanlinxi, Alishan, Fanzaitian, and Lishan. In a word, he learned the ropes of tea making in a comprehensive way, like most tea farmers of his generation. Lugu hosts the highest concentration of tea makers in Taiwan, and is a hub of specialty tea making culture.