The most meaningful aspect of our work in the specialty tea industry is living here in Taiwan and developing friendships with local tea 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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This month's batch of tea being shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club was made by Mr. Su — an 80 year-old artisan of traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea. He planted a plot of the Tie Guan Yin strain in his backyard several years ago, and this is the second time we've sourced this tea type from him. Mr. Su is our favorite representative of traditionally made tea in Taiwan, and it brings us a special kind of joy to be able to share his tea with our tea club members.
This batch has a particularly sweet character, with slightly tangy, fruity notes and a pleasantly clean lingering aftertaste. It has just enough of that cured, almost fermented character that makes it reminiscent of a traditionally made Tie Guan Yin Oolong. But given that it was only roasted once, it maintains a mild flavor profile similar to a Hong Shui Oolong.