Discovering Taiwan’s teas and people – Day 2

A day seems like a week. 24 hours is so rich in human encounters that I’ve lost track of time

What a 2nd day! The one that materializes my vision, planted a few months ago by Daniel Tremblay, of traveling to this master country in the art of tea, especially Wulong… I finally got to meet and learn from tea masters with freshly picked leaves!

The day is already off to a good start: I leave my hotel in Taipei and head for Roy Chiu’s tea house. (Thanks Daniel!), passing through a Buddhist temple of exceptional art. He welcomes me with a delicious Darjeeling iced tea. Very welcoming. I don’t have much time to drop off when Simon Chang (a young Taiwanese tea grower who speaks English very well, which is rare here) gets into his car with a bang (or should I say fly)… On to Pingling, the famous village where baozhong is produced. The same baozhong that Quebec tea professionals tell me my Wulong-style fireweed tea so closely resembles… At last I’m getting there!

Simon drives a madman down winding mountain roads… The.hills are as green as ever!

We reach the village where the fresh tea leaves he has dearly bought await him for his Wulong production.

We stop at Aka Feng 馮懷謹, a well-known village producer, 1 year my senior. (Thank you to Josephine Pan for the contact!). He is mind-blown by the existence of my teas and appreciates them very much. My 1kg of teas compacted in my backpack is literally my passport to the interest of Taiwanese tea producers! My Canadian oxydized herbal tea! As I call it. Just like Tsutomu Suga, Japanese visitor.

Still not knowing where I was going to spend the night, Aka took me on foot to the only hotel in the village, where he translated for me in his broken English. I put my stuff down and quickly join him: off to his tea factory!

We arrive at Aka’s factory and meet his father, a veteran tea master who barely looks at me. We’re waiting for the day’s harvest to arrive any minute…
I try not to be too intrusive and don’t really know where to put myself in this singular situation. All the tea growers are exhausted from this spring marathon where hours of sleep are scarce for 2-3 weeks. Aka is already very kind to let me come,.it’s more relaxed today, tomorrow will be more intense and I won’t be able to come.
The truck arrives from the gardens with the leaves: at last I can make myself useful and move the few pockets of leaves with them. I then realize how harvesting my fireweed leaves is 4 times faster!!!! What’s more, I don’t even have to cultivate them, they grow by themselves! At least for now (to be continued…).
They put them to wither inside, in the heat. I watch carefully. The old man kindly pulls out a chair for me.
It’s not often that I get to watch people at work without putting my hands to the paper! I’m not the type to twiddle my thumbs… but hey, I’m on vacation, so I take advantage, I observe, I film and I smile with joy to see my vision materialize! Finally!
When the work is done, I take the opportunity to ask him a few questions. I like it! We look alike… well, I’m not talking about size, anyway. Lol
He takes me back to the village to join Simon Chang, who has found his beloved leaves and has begun the process of inner withering that will continue… until 3am!!! He and his assistant, Pang, keep a close eye on things, stirring the leaves in all sorts of clever ways! He’s the master and I’m his Padawan for a night.
Before that, we’re going to dinner at a nice restaurant with lots of Asian greenery that I don’t know!
Simon teaches me not just to smell with my nostrils, but to feel with my whole being.


Picture of Julien


Passionate about local plants and producer of Quebec's first teas

To be continued

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