Eco-Cha's Andy shares the same birthday with his tea mentor and closest friend in Taiwan. So for most of the last 30 years, Andy has been celebrating his birthday in the home of Tony and Lisa Lin in Lugu. Lugu is the home of Taiwan's famous Dong Ding Oolong Tea. The other two guys in the photo above are tea makers and professional tea judges with whom Andy has become lifelong friends as well. Tony retired last year from his 40-year career at the Lugu Farmers' Association — where his most notable work was developing the world's largest Oolong Tea competition. His wife Lisa was also a tea judge in this competition for over 20 years. In a word, they are all tea pros in their own right.
While Tony and Lisa are mostly busy with their four grandsons now, Andy first stayed in this same house when Tony and Lisa were processing their winter 1993 harvest from their family tea farm with Tony's mom and dad. That night left an indelible impression on Andy that set the course of his life path. This is Andy's Taiwanese family, and as he has told them, if he had not met them early on, he would not have continued to live in Taiwan. So in response to the question "What does tea mean to you?" Andy says: "Tea connects." Because, above and beyond all else that tea has meant, this is the most profound aspect. So many subsequent experiences have reinforced this truth for him throughout this journey that has traversed three decades.
This is Tony giving a mutual friend a gift of calligraphy. Mr. Chen asked Tony to choose a phrase and do the brush work that will be engraved on a large wooden plaque with an old-school balance scale mounted on it. Tony chose the following proverb/phrase that is most familiar in the local Taiwanese dialect 人生嗨嗨，甭計較 which loosely translates as: "Life is fleeting, best not to haggle."
Mr. Chen also happens to be Eco-Cha's source of Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Tea, Small Leaf Black Tea, AND Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea! After Tony and Lisa, he has become Andy's closest local friend and primary teacher. Andy often shows up in his home tea factory to observe, and lend a hand in processing the day's harvest. Mr. Chen's 30 years of hands-on experience in tea making for his family and community along with over 20 years as a tea judge in the world's largest Oolong competition have made him a world-class tea professional. Andy appreciates his friendship enough to have given him his motorcycle that he himself rode for 20 years!
Essentially, Eco-Cha's roots all come from these two individuals. Both Tony and Lisa Lin, in their own distinct ways, have shared their knowledge, connections, and their family in a way that has allowed this life story to unfold — and for Eco-Cha to become a prominent representative of Taiwan's tea industry and culture on the international platform. This couple is the source of our inspiration as well as our proficiency in sharing our love for Taiwan Tea.
We'll conclude this biographical sketch with one of our favorite views. In the distance below are the 3 neighborhoods that comprise the heart of Dong Ding Oolong Tea Country. Fenghuang, Yonglong, and Zhangya Villages are the historical origins of this renowned Taiwanese tea. This area hosts the densest population of traditional Oolong Tea makers in Taiwan. It is also where Eco-Cha was born and raised. Heartfelt gratitude for this local culture that has shaped our lives!
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