Rain, rain and more rain accompanies my travel in the mountainous area around Pin Lin in Wen-Shan where we source our Baozhong oolong tea - which we are out of. As my hosts and I wander up the mountain road, we come across Mr Cheng tending to his tea garden, actually hand weeding among the tea bushes
He stops his labor and invites us to join him in his house/factory for tea. The walls of his "cupping room" are filled with certificates and awards from local tea competitions.
Good to be out of the rain, we are joined by Mrs. Cheng who starts brewing gongfu style. (I'll add a video clip later, seems I'm having trouble with the upload)
Mr Cheng harvests 3-4 times a year and produces approximately 600kg of Baozhong Oolong per harvest. He is "old school" in that he does not have a retail store to support the sale of his tea, rather he sells it to wholesalers. He will start the November harvest in the next couple weeks which should be ready for sale in late November.
Next stop was the tea museum in Pin-Lin. Aside from the history of tea and tea making equipment, the main attraction was the restaurant. All dishes were prepared with tea oil or had tea leaves as part of the recipe. My favorite was a simple dish of tofu cooked with tea leaves, sesame seed, salt and scallions. Cooking with tea is very popular in the states, but this was the fist time I had seen raw tea leaves as an ingredient.
The afternoon took us to Yi-Lan on the Eastern coast of Taiwan. Here we visited with Tea Master Lung. He produces a rolled oolong, but not in the style of a Tung Ting or Ali-Shan, It is a loosely rolled oolong tea. He uses a Jin Xuan cultivar for this teas. During our visit, he was kind enough to prepare an aged oolong that was out of this world - I'm not sure if he knew how old it was. We also were treated to jello made with tea..
All and all an exciting day experiencnig tea in several ways that were new to me. Today I'm off to TaoYuan to visit a tea garden that produces Oriental Beauty oolong and is undergoing organic certification, a tea exhibition in the area (NW Taiwan) and possibably a factory that produces tea oil.