A few months back we were asked to give the keynote presentation at Taiwan’s Organic Tea Forum — part of the tea expo that's happening at the Taipei World Trade Center this weekend. We're humbled and excited to help give back to the community of tea growers whom we’re privileged to work with and also call friends. Here we feature some of the fantastic people we've met and the stories they shared with us during our preparation for this event.
During our research, we interviewed 14 organic tea farmers and recorded their responses, including their answers to questions such as:
- When did you decide to go organic? Why?
- What have been the biggest challenges you have faced since you went organic?
- Beyond the certification, how have you differentiated your brand and your products?
We then compiled their answers for the presentation.
Here, we interviewed a very interesting father/son team. They have generations of conventional tea farming experience, as well as being retailers of both conventional and organic farm products. Their experience in farm management has allowed them to succeed beyond any other organic farm production we’ve seen to date. Looking forward to checking out the farm after seeing photos of it.
Ms. Chen sought out her own ground in the tea industry here in Taiwan. After years of high mountain tea farm production, she found this idyllic plot of tea with a cottage style house above a nature reserve river/watershed to settle down and go organic. “Power Culture” is her brand name, solely managing her farm with her three adopted stray dogs — she’s living the dream. We interviewed Ms. Chen as one of the case studies for our Tea Forum presentation. In classic Taiwanese generosity fashion, we were gifted her award-winning tea in this year’s first annual national organic tea competition.
New blood on the local organic tea scene — Mr. Lin decided to clear a plot of family land and start growing Red Jade #18 for organic specialty black tea production and make England his target market. He’s currently in graduate school researching the science of tea processing and its effect on the chemical compounds that provide flavor and aroma. He says it’s already known by experienced tea makers without having the data, but he wants to get scientific with that traditional wisdom. Cool stuff! But what most impressed us overall about meeting Mr. Lin was the fact that he decided independently to become a tea farmer and tea maker with no family ties to the industry.
OK, now here’s a story! We interviewed the young Mr. Lin as part of our research for our presentation. We had met more than once before but never really got to know each other. So we not only learned about his new organic tea project. But we also learned that he is a direct descendant of the original Mr. Lin who brought the legendary 36 plants back from mainland China, 12 of which were planted on Dong Ding Mountain c. 1855. He is now in the process of establishing an organic tea farm on his family land which is on the historic slopes of Dong Ding Mountain. He also has plans to renovate his family home at the entrance to this quaint yet fading historic site. He has modest but clear and substantial plans to bring this history back to life for tea lovers from around the world to appreciate in the near future! We're looking forwarding checking in on the progress of his plans!
We first met Zhang Hao Yan when he was a university student. We visited his parents who managed a small organic tea farm, and he happened to be home on holiday. At that time, he had not planned to inherit his parents’ farm. But he went on to study soil science and, as it unfolded, he has become the representative organic tea farmer that he is now. It’s been a beautiful thing to watch. Having this sense of familiarity with the younger generation of tea professionals is a new level of fulfillment for us in our involvement with the local tea industry. Mr. Zhang’s responses to our questions provided some of the most poignant data for this weekend's presentation.
Visited a new fave tea person in the Yushan High Mountain Oolong Tea growing region. Well into his sixties and 10 years certified organic. Top award winning tea maker — even with the challenges of competing against commercial growers to meet the standard of quality based on conventional farming methods. In a word — BADASS! We love Oolong Country in Taiwan — because beautiful people created it.
We know no better way to get to know someone than to stand with them on their land and listen to their story of how they’ve worked with the elements for decades. Farmers rule... Correction: organic farmers rule! Mr. Chen has impressed us the most of all the new organic tea farmers we’ve met in our research.
A quick selfie snapshot with the next generation of organic tea farmers. This is the son of one of our most respected sources of organic tea. His dad is in the background talking to a good friend who does the same work. We’ve recently met four next-generation tea farmers — all committed to organic farming. Great to be able to talk about these subjects in our presentation.
This is a certified organic tea farm in the Yushan High Mountain Tea growing region. We met the farmer of this plot as a result of being asked to give the keynote address at Taiwan’s Organic Tea Forum and took this as an opportunity to do some field research. It has been a very fulfilling and meaningful experience. Can’t wait to meet many more organic tea growers at the expo this weekend!
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