the tea garden shredder in action

For those of you who landed here attracted by our tongue in cheek Halloween themed promotion of this post, you may be disappointed not to hear us reveal stories of Taiwanese haunted tea gardens or evil spirits lurking along the rows of bushes in our tea growing town, although I am sure the local folklore must have a full repertoire of them. Rest assured, our post remains entertaining and reveals not often seen images of how tea gardens die, cruelly we admit, but sometimes, get a new lease on life like in the case of this one. The element of surprise is present, horror is also there but not through primal emotions. The story we are telling today exemplifies the consequences of the prevailing conventional ways of tea farming that rely heavily and systematically on fertilizers and pesticides and, in a soon to be published second part, how new approaches to tea farming are making their way with practices that have a good foothold in tradition but also consider new ideas like sustainability as a guiding factor. This is a story that we’ve followed closely for the last year as it concerns one of our family’s newly leased tea gardens.

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Last May 24th, we were graced with a beautiful full moon night in our little tea making village of Songboling, on the edge of the Baguashan ridge in Nantou County. Coincidentally, this was also a busy night in the village, not in the bars (there are none) or in other hangouts, but in the tea making workshops all lined-up next to each other along the Main Street. All the ground levels of the typical 3 story concrete dwellings that make up the street were lit-up and workers were busy feeding the chirping drum heaters, dryers and ball rolling machines required to process and make Taiwan oolong tea. In one of those workshops, a special tea was being made: it was ours. Made from leaves freshly picked earlier that day from our recently acquired fields of Si Ji Chun bushes, it was now in the skillful hands of the Yi family to turn it into a finished tea. Follow-us today as we give a chronological account in pictures and video on the making of our Four Seasons Oolong Tea, Lot 244 and pay a well-deserved homage to the people that make your tea.

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Tea Field of Cui Yu Tea Cultivar in Nantou, Taiwan

In our quest to secure reliable sources of organic and low pesticide teas, we’ve taken a logical but nonetheless bold step of acquiring tea gardens recently. Being able to fully control the source of your raw leaf material has become a key concern in order to ensure a quality supply of tea that meets our highest standards as well as the required conformity to certification norms. Very soon Taiwan Tea Crafts will be able to propose tailor-made teas for which we will be 100% accountable and responsible for the end result… as I write this, part of me is freaking out at this prospect. In any event, here’s the story of how we got to give a new lease on life to some abandoned tea fields in the hope of making not so bad tea with them. If all fails, at least it will give me something to write about for a few more chronicles.

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It’s been not even 2 weeks since rows of young tea bushes have found a new home in the red earth adjacent to our compound and consequently changed life’s pace for this writer. Just like a proud new father who is struck with the responsibility of caring for new living creatures, one gets up much earlier than usual since then, and without any additional effort might I add. The giddy pride and simple pleasure of witnessing life taking root get’s us out of bed and into our wellies for an attentionate daily hand watering before it gets too hot. Read more

What started off as a construction project for a new tea factory a few months ago has taken a new twist in the last weeks. Thanks to goodwill, a long-term vision and a bit of government regulation, a new tea garden is taking shape in our own backyard. Here’s a first picture instalment in a new series of articles chronicling the activities surrounding this new venture as we slowly move towards the goal of sampling the first cups made from our backyard bushes. Make yourselves comfortable as the ride will take a good two years to reach that step! Read more