Spring Ride To Alishan's "Village Of Great Peace"
Eco-Cha's pictorial post on spring tea harvest 2016, received a lot of compliments in appreciation of our sharing snapshots of our tea adventures in Taiwan. This inspired us to take a few extra moments to stop and enjoy the view on our third ride into 太和村 or "Great Peace Village" in the last couple weeks. Here are some photos from that ride. Our readers know that we've tended to focus on an in-depth perspective of the tea industry in Taiwan. Now we feel like it's time to share some simply pleasurable sight-seeing in the country where all this wonderful tea is produced.
This is the first view that compelled us to stop and take a photo. This mountainside was washed away by Typhoon Morakot in 2009. We've watched it transform from a mudslide to its current state of regrowth. It struck us how fast the jungle will reappear after being ravaged by a storm. This is approaching the pass that leads into Great Peace Village.
This was taken from a small bridge that leads into the Alishan region. Fruit trees, betel nut palms, and vegetables pervade the more accessible landscape of this remote rural territory. If you look closely, right over the top of the papaya tree in the foreground, some plots of tea are visible on the distant lower ridge.
Another view from a bridge crossing the pervasive riverbeds coming down off the mountains. Here we are looking at the northwestern side of the valley where Great Peace Village is located. Some plots of tea are visible on the lower slopes.
We visited with a new farmer friend who we met at last year's Global Tea Expo. This father and son team had just finished pruning back their tea trees after spring harvest, and they invited us to stay for a lovely country style midday meal.
We were struck (once again) on this ride by how many riverbeds and ravines run throughout this mountain landscape! Beautiful, rugged, steep, high mountain valleys and ridges literally in every direction!
This is the view as we ascended the northern side of the basin on our return home. The distant falls that are barely visible are perhaps the true geographic gateway into the Alishan region from the northern side. Every time we pass by this view we feel blessed. Taiwan's mountains offer some of the most dramatic and striking landscapes we've ever seen. This is a significant part of why Oolong Country in Taiwan has become our home.
One thing we've learned quite well in our 25 years of exploring Taiwan's mountains is that the weather can change instantly from one valley into another. This is a shot coming out of the tunnel on the north side of the ridge above those falls in the picture above. Thick fog and mist for miles until we got low enough to get below the clouds. In a word, these adventures are invigorating. And the batches of tea that we find along the way are our own versions of "the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow".
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Batch 65 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club was initially sourced by our friend for entry into the largest Oolong Tea Competition in the world. The standard of this competition is a medium/heavy roast, so it requires a significant level of oxidation in processing the tea leaves for optimal results. This is where this batch of tea varies most significantly from the market standard of Taiwan's High Mountain Tea. High Mountain Tea is minimally oxidized and unroasted — offering a fresh green character with a floral bouquet. This batch was not only more oxidized, but also delicately roasted to offer a more balanced, sweeter character with fruity and pastry components to compliment the floral notes.