"1000 People Brew Tea" at the Nantou Global Tea Expo
Last Sunday was the annual gathering of tea lovers from all over Taiwan to partake in the largest tea party on the island, and perhaps in the world. Roughly 2500 people of all ages sat down on a field to simply enjoy tea together. Each designated host brought their own style of tea brewing to the event to share with their guests. Here is our friend Penny, the national champion in the Elementary School Tea Brewing Competition representing her local culture from Lugu, Taiwan.
This is the first year since the event began 6 years ago that I did not brew tea, but instead was part of the working staff. This afforded me the opportunity to walk around and see the seemingly endless variety of tea brewing styles that each host designed and performed for their guests. It was really an amazing spectacle to behold. And it represented in living form the pervasive tea culture that is alive and thriving in Taiwan.
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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.