Traditional Oolong Tea Making Workshop In Taiwan
Eco-Cha recently attended a Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea making workshop conducted by the (Taiwan) Lugu Farmers' Association Dong Ding Oolong Tea Competition judging team.
We recognize this as a significant event in that it is perhaps the most effective systematized effort to preserve this traditional product of regional origin.
Not only is this the world's largest Oolong Tea competition, it is a pioneer and precedent for contemporary tea competitions worldwide.
This team of professional tea judges is now comprised of 80 members, from which about half are hired to participate in each semi annual competition.
Director of the Lugu Farmer's Association, and our tea mentor Tony Lin, has developed this competition over the last 30 years. Last year he decided it was important to educate the new generation of tea judges on traditional tea making.
So he created this workshop where 4 or 5 elder tea masters are invited to demonstrate their methods to the newer generations. The younger tea judges are are organized into teams of about 12 apprentices each.
Tony believes that only by experience of what is involved in making Traditional Dong Ding Oolong Tea, will this next generation be able to recognize the best characteristics of this local specialty, and thereby preserve and protect the quality standards on which this competition is based.
Here is a video of this event for you to Enjoy a “live window” into a 100 year old traditional tea culture, that is still thriving in 21st Century Lugu, Taiwan.
Above is a photo of Tony Lin (far right) with the four elder tea masters who demonstrated at this year's event. We felt honored that 3 of these 4 elders are tea makers who we've befriended and sourced tea from for years.
We weren't really aware of their status in the local community. We just knew these were our favorite people to visit and learn from and feel privileged to have a share in the tea they craft seasonally.
In a word, they make the best tea we've found over over the past 25 years!
The above is Eco-Cha co-founder and sourcing director, Andy Kincart, standing proudly next to his all-time favorite tea master Mr. Liu, and his Taiwanese mentor Tony Lin.
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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.