We recently spent the day with Pei Ketron - pioneer of Instagram photography (@pketron) and freelance photographer from the U.S.A. who has family in Taipei. Pei was recently featured on PHOTOSHELTER in a live webinar about her Instagram expertise.
While staying with relatives in Taipei, she hopped around Asia on different jobs for a few months. And taking a day trip from Taipei via the High Speed Rail, public bus, and my motorcycle - Lugu was one of her last stops before getting on plane back to the States. The bus that Pei had to take from the Taichung HSR station was a public service tour bus that took city folks to a recreational forest park high up in the central mountain range, passing through Lugu along the way. Pei soon found out that there were no set bus stops along the way. Passengers had to push a button to notify the driver that they wanted to get off. Sounds convenient, but not when you have no idea where you are or where you are going! I found Pei easily enough on the side of the rode between Lugu and the forest park where she abruptly got dropped off! From there it was relatively smooth travels for the rest of the day. We visited a couple scenic spots and a few of our tea friends, then rode back down the mountain and all the way back to the Taichung HSR station, as the buses had stopped running in the afternoon.
Here are some shots Pei took at Lu Ding Manor, a nice B&B/ Conference Center at the top of Dong Ding Mountain:
Above, an activity of children brewing tea for a group of guests was being prepared for when we arrived. And below, Pei framed a nice shot of Andy taking in the view from the second floor veranda.
The view below is from the vista point that our local friend and tea artisan took us up to overlooking Qilin Lake (麒麟潭) and Phoenix Village (鳳凰村) on this summer afternoon of intermittent thunder showers. Pei caught the afternoon light just as the sun shined through for a brief moment. This ridge above Dong Ding Mountain has some of the earliest history of tea cultivation on Taiwan, and for us is the heart of tea country.
Here is a sneaky pic that Pei took of our friend Young (who produced our current batch of Dong Ding Oolong) and I on our way back down from the vista point:
Pei and I stopped for one last pot of tea at the home of my tea mentors Tony and Lisa Lin before heading back to Taichung in the evening to make sure Pei could catch the HSR back up to Taipei. Luckily, Pei found her very long and weary day of travels into tea country to be well worth it! We look forward to her next visit and more fun tea adventures. Here's Pei's impromptu selfie shot of us fueling up on the way back into the city:
All photos courtesy of Pei Ketron
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The appearance of the brewed tea has gained substance, and become a deeper yellowish gold in comparison to the thinner, lighter unroasted brew. This coincides with the flavor profile in that the roasted version is heartier, with a more balanced character. The aroma coming off the leaves from the initial rinse is reminiscent of buttered carrots or yams. After the first brew, the aroma is more like grilled corn, cooling off into freshly baked scones. The second pour brought on stronger roasted vegetable notes, but again cooling off into a pastry aroma.
Red Oolong offers a smooth, balanced, mildly sweet, rich but not quite bold flavor profile, with elements of fruit compote, pumpkin pie, and a hint of dried flowers. This ultra-friendly character, combined with the fact that almost all Red Oolong is cultivated naturally on the southeast coast of Taiwan, facing the wide open Pacific, where the sky reminds a North American of the northern west coast, is no wonder why it is rapidly gaining popularity on the international market. Once again, Taiwan leads the way in Oolong Tea innovation!