Taiwan Tea Picking Competition
The Lugu Farmers' Association organized a groundbreaking event in an effort to maintain a high quality standard of hand-picked tea in Taiwan. After developing the world's largest Oolong Tea competition (est. 1976), and nine years of producing the Nantou Global Tea Expo, our mentor Tony Lin (林獻堂) said that this is his latest effort to preserve the quality of Oolong Tea in Taiwan.
Twenty teams of six members each from all of Taiwan's major tea producing regions were organized to participate in the first competition of its kind. Each team had 50 minutes to pick a row tea bushes 50m in length. The scoring is shown below.
The amount of tea leaves picked acounted for 30% of each team's score. The quality of picked tea leaves accounted for 40%. After all, the competition was designed to preserve quality over quantity! The quality of leaves was determined by collecting 100g of picked leaves from each picker, and mixing all six team members' 100g samples together. Then, 100g of leaves were extracted from the mix to be examined for proper maturity, and that the length of the stems was not too long. Over-mature leaves with too much stem is the key point of quality control, both in competition and in general. 20% of the score was based on how thoroughly the rows of bushes were picked. In other words, leaves fit for picking could not be left on the bush. Finally, 10% of the score was based on the speed/efficiency of each team in completing the task.
There were monetary prizes given to the top 6 teams, and awards for these teams will be presented by government officials at the upcoming Nantou Global Tea Expo. The event was primarily intended to boost the pride and respect of being a skilled tea picker. Local culture is alive and well in these tea producing regions and there is a collective support among the members of these communities. The atmosphere was light and everyone seemed to be having fun. We were pleased to see that our most revered community of Phoenix Village in the heart of Dong Ding Oolong country won first place the competition!
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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.