Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Farmer Chen and Baozhong tea

Meet Farmer Chen from Pinglin, Taiwan.
Farmer Chen was showing us an award he was happy to receive for his beautiful Baozhong teas.
We visited Farmer Chen and his wife on our first full day in Taiwan.
Stepping into their tea shop bags and bags of tea greeted us.
Each of the farms we visited had a tea shop either at their farm or nearby.
I described their tea shops as their living rooms.
A large door, such as a garage door, would open to the sidewalk.
As people would walk by, they would come inside and sit for awhile over small cups of tea.
Peeking inside from the sidewalk you can see people sitting at the table sipping tea.
After sipping tea for awhile we had lunch together.
I will show our lunch tomorrow.
Here Farmer Chen and his wife have taken us up the mountain to their farm.
They are demonstrating machine cutting of the tea with something similar to a lawn mower.
The tea was caught in a large bag, then bundled, and taken to his home to be processed.
At his home he weighs it, then begins the process.
His wife said they would be up all night processing the tea.
She stays up with him, so he doesn't fall asleep.
The fresh picked tea is poured onto these baskets to begin the oxidation process.
Though there was no tea in this machine he was explaining how during the process
the tea is put into this mixer and heated up, then again poured into the baskets.
This may be done one time or many times depending on the results and type of tea they are processing.
As we visit other farms I will show this again with tea being poured from it.

After visiting the farm we returned to the teashop for more tea tastings with Farmer Chen's wife.
Their specialty was Baozhong tea, which is a lightly oxidized floral tea.
I came home with tea from Farmer Chen's farm, which I am thoroughly enjoying.
He was also the only farmer we visited that is also experimenting with black tea, which
is fairly new for Taiwan tea farmers.  So beside the Baozhong tea, I brought home
a black tea, and a lovely aged (20 years) Buddha Hand oolong tea.
The Buddha Hand is so named because 1. the leaves can grow to the size as big as a hand. 2. this specific tea
varietal tastes like the fruit: Buddha Hand.
All these teas are full leaf, so when they have been steeped you can unfurl the full leaf and see
the beauty of a lovely tea.