Nantou County's seventh annual Global Tea Expo happened last week, with TV news reporting that the event drew around 400,000 visitors over its 9 days of various performances, presentations, demonstrations, and contests to complement the 300 vendors who set up shop to sell their produce. It is by far the largest and most representative event in Taiwan promoting its specialty tea and thriving tea culture.
Above is the 1000 People Tea Party which has been a main attraction at the Expo since the first year. We see this as representing the lifestyle orientation that Taiwan's tea culture embodies. The cultural significance of tea and the way it enriches our lives is well understood here in Taiwan, and people really appreciate the community spirit on which this event is based. Eco-Cha's sourcing director Andy has brewed tea at this gathering every year since the Expo began.
The 1000 People Rolling Tea is the second most popular attraction, where folks both young and old can sign up for a DIY experience of rolling fresh tea leaves — an essential step in the making of Black Tea.
We are always eager to attend the event below to taste Taiwan's highest quality teas as determined by the regional competitions. Professional tea judges guide their guests through a tasting of 12 Champion Prize winning teas, with an introduction to each tea type and the competition they entered. Some of these prize winning teas sell for as much as US$10,000/600g!
Below is a snapshot of our friend and source of traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea hosting an interactive demonstration of the premodern method of curing tea. He, and all of our older generation tea farmer friends grew up with this activity.
Another fun and rejuvenating activity at the Expo is the tea leaf facial treatment. Brewed tea leaves are placed over the eyes and the tea is absorbed by a facial mask to cleanse and condition the skin. This is something we've enjoyed doing at home for decades now, and know how refreshing the effect can be. If you try it, be sure to let the tea leaves cool down enough before facial application!
And finally, we want to share a snapshot of the core group of producers and facilitators who make this event run smoothly and successfully year after year. Andy took this shot in the very last moments of the staff packing up to leave the venue on the last day. The energy of the group was full of positivity, and we admire our mentor Tony Lin all-the-more for being the man behind the scenes who facilitates it all.
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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!