FREE SHIPPING ON ORDERS OVER $75

A Ride Into Alishan Country To Dragon's Eye Village

There are many remote mountain villages in the foothills of Alishan that are surrounded by tea gardens sprawling over their slopes. The other day we finally got to visit a farm that was referred to us by the proprietor of our favorite neighborhood restaurant a while ago. Last year, they mailed us two samples each from their most recent harvest of Qing Xin Oolong and Tai Cha #12 a.k.a. Jin Xuan tea, and we liked them. The home was comprised of four brothers who all grow tea in and around the village called Dragon's Eye.

Above is a shot of the road signs at the last turn of the road halfway up the mountainside to the tea farm we were seeking out for the first time. We couldn't help but muse about how there were virtually no road signs at all in this countryside when we started exploring it more than 15 years ago. The roads haven't changed however, often only a one-lane winding thread up the steep slopes to tiny clusters of residences surrounded by farms and bamboo forest. Below is the collective family home we visited at the bottom of this mountainside of thriving Oolong tea trees.

We learned while chatting with Mrs. Wang and her mother-in-law over a pot of tea that this village was the earliest area where tea cultivation was promoted by the county government in cooperation with the Tea Research And Extension Station about 40 years ago. These four brothers took their father's pioneering efforts in cultivating tea to a new generation of development that now supports four families that descended from one. The area has experienced a population drain rather than increase since these four brothers raised their own children some twenty years ago.

The elementary school that the blue road sign in the photo above points to has been closed. This is a common occurrence in many of the remote, mountainous tea farming regions of Taiwan that flourished a generation ago. This makes the future of these dwindling communities somewhat tenuous. The developing local industry of agricultural tourism combined with a steady demand for high mountain tea offers hope for a new, perhaps more sustainable cycle of land use and rural communities. Below is the same plot, turning to the right and looking southeast across the slope as the clouds closed in overhead but the sun peeked through across the valley.

It was an educational and enjoyable visit to yet another new farm in the remote hills of central Taiwan, where some of the world's best tea is grown. We look forward to further visits during the coming spring's harvest and beyond. When we return, we intend to seek out the road leading to this very attractive looking plot of tea that we spotted from the road just below the Wang Family's home. Then we have the fun task of finding the farmer who cultivates it. Such is the nature of our explorations in Oolong Country, and the heart of our reason for being here.

Have you heard of the
Eco-Cha Tea Club?

We've been sourcing tea for 25 years and we often come across small, special batches that are not available in our shop. Join the Eco-Cha Tea Club to experience these teas each month.

JOIN NOW

1 Response

Jim
Jim

March 29, 2016

Wonderful things happening there.
I am so grateful for you sharing this story and beautiful photos. It inspires me to pack my bags and come help on the farm, raise a family to increase population, and help in some way for the next stage of evolution of tea in that region.
How old approximately are the four brothers now?

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.