|Helping You to Travel the Tea Areas Of Taiwan|
to Taiwan Tea Tours/Packages/Trips,& Info -
Taiwan's Tea Regions
(Pouchong, Jade Oolong, Amber Oolong)
(Oriental Beauty, Jade Oolong)
(Tung Ting Oolong, Jade Oolong)
(Paoli Pouchong, Paoli Oolong)
High Mountain Regions:
Wenshan Pouchong tea: Pouchong tea usually refers to semi-fermented tea. After the process of tea-making is finished, 150 grams of tea leaves are wrapped with two pieces of rectangular Chinese writing paper into a square pack containing a seal of the name of the tea and its maker. Thus, it gained the name "pouchong" that means "wrapped kind" in Chinese.
Wenshan District in Taipei City grows some
of the best pouchong teas, since it has fertile soil and the surrounding
mountains contribute to the cool and moist climate all year round.
Oriental Beauty Tea: It is said that in the old days, the Queen of England was amazed by this type of tea¡¦s unique flavor and named it ¡§oriental beauty¡¨. In Taiwan, it is called champagne oolong tea, pekoe tea, oolong tea or pong hong tea.
The harvest season is limited to the summer.
Bitten by the tea green leafhopper (Jacobiasca Formosana), the leaves
do not grow after the summer. The leaves can be fermented and baked into
rich, yet sweet tea with a honey or ripe fruit aroma. The unique cultivation
process is essential to its quality.
Yuchi Assam Black Tea: During the Japanese occupation period, superior tea seeds were imported from India to Yuchi (fish pond) Township in Nantou County by the Japanese government. Since then, Yuchi has been an ideal area to cultivate black tea. During the Japanese colonial era, tea produced in Yuchi, was served to the Japanese Emperor.
Tea trees of the first generation are over
80 years of age, and the black tea is beautiful, colorful, and fragrant
with the sweet aroma of flowers. The mellow taste lingers and makes the
black tea a treasure.
Ruisui Honey-flavored Black Tea: The East Rift Valley, the so-called last untouched land in Taiwan, has promoted pesticide-free organic farming in recent years, and produces excellent-quality honey-flavored black tea after leaves are sucked by tea green leafhoppers (Jacobiasca Formosana).
Premium honey tea has a strong aroma of
fruit, honey, and flowers. One sip distributes the subtle aroma in the
mouth. In 2006, Ruisui Township in Hualien County won the gold medal in
a world tea competition among more than 700 varieties of tea from 15 countries.
Alishan High Mountain Tea: The Alishan area is well-known both for its scenery and tea making, and the high mountain tea grown there represents Taiwan.
High altitude brings a cold climate and
large temperature differences between the day and night. This climate
slows the growth of tea trees that and irrigation from mountain springs
produce tea leaves that are thick and tender, and stems that are soft.
Alishan oolong tea and jinxuan tea are fragrant, rich, and lingering in
terms of smell and taste. Their superior quality helps them win championships
regularly in national tea competitions, earning them the international
reputation of being ¡§the best teas in Taiwan.¡¨
Click here for an old style Tea House in Taichung
Here's one of the ways to make Taiwanese tea:
1. Pour boiling water
over all the vessels ( cups , pot etc)
2. Place tea leaves in the warmed tea pot to one-fifth full. Pour boiling water into the tea pot to re-hydrate the tea leaves.
3. Replenish the tea pot with boiling water and allow tea to suffuse ( steep) for 1 minute. Pour the tea into the warmed jug ( decanter vessel) , in order to serve.The tea is received in the high cup ( smell cup) . Before drinking, the tea is transformed to a low cup, and the empty high cup ( smell cup) is lifted to enjoy the arome .
4. The tea pot may be refillled a further seven times. Each time the tea is allowed to soak for ten seconds to 15 seconds longer than the previous time.
The second time allow 1 min 10 sec
The 3rd tima allow 1 min 20 sec
5. Finally empty used tea leaves into a bowl using tea tongs.
Taking one of the first direct flights from the UK to
Taiwan, Simon Tisdall finds the calmer, greener side of a country better
known for its hi-tech brands
The Guardian, Saturday 22 May 2010
Reflected glory ... Taiwan's Sun Moon Lake is a holy place in aboriginal lore. Photograph: Getty
High above the noisy concrete and aluminium boulevards of Taipei, way beyond the city's vertiginous skyscrapers, neon lights and elevated high-speed railway tracks, almost floating in the clouds, distinct and apart, as if in another world, lies a garden of heavenly peace.
Its name is the Hongmuwu (Red Wood) Tea House, and it sits in the wooded hills above Taipei, its sudden tranquillity contrasting with the earnest urban bustle below. A soothing tonic for the worn of mind and spirit.
Seated on a shaded wooden chair beside a tinkling fountain that fed pools flickering with orange and silver carp, I watched Hongmuwu's jolly proprietress initiate afternoon tea with smiles and signs.
First, she poured boiling water into a large, brown, earthenware teapot with a bamboo handle. The pot was already primed with the famous, locally grown tie guan yin tea. This first infusion was poured off and more water was added. Then a second teapot came into play, round china cups were warmed and, after the requisite brewing period, the contents were transferred again, this time into a small jug. All this was done swiftly and deftly. Small bowls of sugared cashews, dried mango and sweet tea plums appeared on the table.
As at last the dark, light-tasting liquid was poured out, great beams of sunshine lanced down into the valleys below. The city's glass and steel glistened from afar. Tea was served.
Tie guan yin, the best known Chinese oolong tea, can be translated as "iron goddess of mercy", an appropriate name given that the most-fun way to reach the Hongmuwu Tea House high in the wooded hills above Taipei, is via a 4km cable-car ride that tops 300m at its highest point. Gondolas carrying up to eight people climb from the Jingmei river basin near Taipei Zoo station in a half-hour ride over treetops and gulleys to Maokong station. Numerous tea houses, temples, gardens and walking trails are then within easy reach.
Floating on the outer edge of Asia, looking west towards Red China and east into the blue Pacific, Taiwan has many ways of lifting the spirits.
Beyond its shores, the island is known for its unresolved, peaceful stand-off with Beijing, which regards Taiwan as a "renegade province" ¡V the dispute dates back to the Communist victory in the Chinese civil war.
It boasts a democratically elected government, a robust devotion to capitalism, and a cutting-edge, hi-tech export-led economy that has rendered "Made in Taiwan" a globally recognisable marque. It has world-class healthcare, an impressive high-speed rail network, and ambitions to become an Asian transport hub.
Today, a gradual improvement in relations between Taiwan and its giant neighbour is producing beneficial spin-offs, direct and indirect. Chinese tourism to Taiwan is booming. Bilateral trade and investment are growing. And in March, Taiwan-based China Airlines launched the first non-stop flight to Taiwan from the UK, with a new thrice-weekly service from Heathrow.
Downtown Taipei is a busy, modern-looking city that combines the energetic feel of Tokyo with an American-style grid system. But there is a lot more beneath the glitz. There is the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, a truly monumental, permanent tribute to the founding father of the Republic of China (Taiwan's official name). Among the displays are photographs of the great man with Churchill, Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Nixon. His 50s armoured Cadillac is preserved in all its glory, as is the Order of the Bath, presented to him by British admirers.
The National Palace Museum is home to the crown jewels of imperial China, brought to Taiwan from the mainland by Chiang's fleeing nationalists. I found it a place of great beauty, art and abounding treasure ¡V a bit like the Tower of London, the National Gallery and the V&A rolled into one. Taipei 101, until recently the world's tallest building, should not be missed: its elevators, travelling at about 60km/h are the fastest in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records. At the top is a giant, suspended damper, designed to compensate for unwanted movement caused by earthquakes (the last big one was in 1999).
And a walk on Taipei's wild side is incomplete without a visit to the Night Market in Shinlin district. Pig blood cakes, stinking tofu, coconut dough rolls, oyster omelettes, meat and spring onion steamed dumplings, and bitter melon juice drinks are some of the myriad delicacies (and staples) on sale amid much noisy chatter and startlingly low prices. Once sated, the itinerant gaijin (foreign) gourmet can try his luck at fairground shooting ranges or lose her shirt at mah jong.
But when city life begins to pall, Taiwan offers something else, something more that is sometimes amazing. A cheap, 35-minute domestic flight south and east to Hualien county, then a short drive into the Taroko national park, brought me into the heart of the spectacular Taroko gorge.
Mile after mile of narrow, twisting road tracks the tumbling, aquamarine waters of the Liwu river as it descends from a host of snow-capped mountains, including one of Taiwan's highest, Mount Nanhu, at 3,742m. The rock here is sheer marble, massive, glistening and immovable ¡V until an imperceptible tremor sends sharp shards crashing to the road. Signs warn, with good reason, "Do Not Linger". Hard hats are de rigueur.
The national park offers numerous walking trails, and the gorge is home to a wide range of plants, mammals, over-sized butterflies and birds, including tiny swallows that have colonised the many caves along the trail. The road runs through tunnels cut at great human cost by Chiang's demobilised soldiers. It follows a route developed by the Japanese imperial army during its pre-1945 occupation of Taiwan.
But the Japanese were interlopers here, too. Historically speaking, this land belonged to the indigenous Taroko (Truku) people, a Pacific islander race, now dispossessed like so many of their kind. At the Buluowan recreation area, roughly half-way up the gorge, their cultural heritage, or what's left of it, can be seen in reception area displays and for sale in handicraft shops.
Buluowan, meaning "echo", is a magical place, a natural river terrace surrounded by the almost vertical heavily wooded cliffs that the Taroko made their home. Like Taiwan's other aboriginal tribes, they have mostly lost their birthright. But high in this enchanted gorge, their spirits linger, defying the signs.
The magical feel of the region was continued in the serene environs of the Silks Place hotel, high in the Taroko gorge, a haven of inimitable calm, soft carpets, luxurious massage, hushed dining and elegantly minimalist Japanese-style rooms.
As I lay there with the screen doors drawn back, listening to the susurrating rush of the mountain stream, thinking randomly of the day's Buddhist temples and shaven monks, monkeys, hawks and incense, of lost dynasties of tattooed head-hunters chased out of their land, sleep came easily, an escape within an escape.
South and west from Taipei the vistas are dramatically different. One hour on the high-speed train to Taichung, then an hour's drive into the mountains, away from the industrialised, built-up coastal strip, brought me, round a final bend, to a memorable sight: the shimmering waters of famous Sun Moon Lake, a small, hidden sea in the heart of Taiwan, a secret Xanadu encircled by mountains.
This also is a place of trails and walking tours, cycle rides and boat trips, hotels and souvenir shops. But in aboriginal lore it is a holy place, too. This is where Chiang Kai-shek, by then an old man and dun dictatin', sat and contemplated all his works, like a latter-day Kubla Khan, listening for ancestral voices prophesying war.
Sun Moon Lake is where Chiang's personal stately pleasure dome, now transformed into the ultra-luxurious Lalu hotel, is situated. The hotel is worth the journey by itself. Its exquisite three-room suites with their shuttered balconies, its unbroken views across the lake to far-off pagodas and misted hills, its polished Burmese teak floors, its fishponds, lilies, and Japanese bonsai, its terraced restaurants and spas and, most of all, its modest, self-effacing architectural style combine to produce an almost transformative experience (at a price).
Lapping gently in the early morning air, shaded by newly
greening frangipani trees and red hibiscus blossom, the blue-green, over-spilling
waters of the Lalu's long outdoor pool seem to merge seamlessly with lake
and sky. For a moment, it was as if I was floating free, man and nature
made one. Of course, it is a trick of the eye, a conceit of the heart.
Or is it? As ever, Taiwan is more than it seems.
Tea Fun In Taiwan Package
tour is different and we are very flexible. On each tour we try
to find new places to visit and improve our understanding of tea.
Feel free to give input and to ask to vivit places along the way.
Here is a very good ( and now famous!) Tea house in Taichung :
Tea houses and tea rooms ... a big difference!
The history of tea in Taiwan is quite long - the first tea plants arrived from China in the 18th century. Surprisingly the history of what today we consider chinese tea houses is much more recent: these tea houses appeared in Taiwan during the '70s, just 30 years ago.
Before there were two different kinds of public spaces where people could drink tea. Both, for different reasons, were considered not acceptable by most Taiwanese.
The first was called "chashi" that means "tea room". "Chashi" tea rooms, beside tea and wine, provided also "nupei" - that are ... "escorts". So these "tea rooms" had strong connotations of sex and prostitutes.
The second public space has virtually disappeared today. It was called with the colorful name of "old man tea house" - "laoren chaguan".
"Old man tea houses" were simple and usually not very clean places. Their customers were mostly older "waishengren", the Mainlanders that followed Chang Kai-shek to Taiwan in 1949.
These retired and often lonely old men, former soldiers or public officers, used to get together in the "laoren chaguan". They killed the time chatting, eating pumpkin seeds and drinking cheap tea.
Many Taiwanese were not interested in these kind of premises.
Also, at that time, Taiwan was more americanized ... in a kind of funny way. Offering tea was considered "cheap", at least in the cities. The new elite proudly served Coke to their guests!
Renaissance of Taiwan tea culture.
The renaissance of chinese tea houses in the 70's was mainly due to two things.
First, the quality of Taiwan tea was improving all the time.
Farmers left the production of low and medium quality tea, where they could no longer compete. Instead they focused on creating and perfecting the best - and most profitable - teas.
Second, the so called "chayiguan" began to appear. "Chayiguan" means "Tea Art House". A tea art house provides teas of the best quality. The tea making follows the rules of the chinese tea art so the tea house also supplies proper and elegant utensils for brewing the tea.
These chinese tea houses cater the new sophisticated city dwellers. Here the people come to find their own roots, their own past, if real or idealized it does not really matter. Here they can come with the friends or the family to elope for a few hours from the stress of modern life.
The Tea Art Houses have been extremely successfull.
Nowadays "chayiguan" are spreaded everywhere in Taiwan, in the countryside and in the cities. In the latter case, these tea houses are designed to keep out the noise and the sight of the city.
In Taiwan, the best chinese tea houses are in Taichung and Taipei. Also, Taichung tea houses gave birth to phenomena as the "bubble tea" and "pearl milk tea".
So chinese tea houses are considered amongst the top attractions in Taichung. And I suggest, you like tea or not, a travel in Taiwan is not complete without a visit to a tea house. It might change your mind about tea.
Lets come to the point:
The best chinese tea houses in Taichung.
Wu Wei Tsao Tang Tea House
"Wu Wei" is a word that comes from Tao philosophy. It means "no action", "effortless action". It means to be in a state of "flow" ... like the artist when is creating or like kids that play in a long summer evening.
With such a name, it is obvious that Wu Wei aims to be a "classic" chinese tea house, a two stores wooden construction around a fish pond.
I have been in other tea houses of this kind. I think Wu Wei is one of the best example of "chayiguan" in Taichung. We had a good time here, thanks also to a quiet evening with a magic atmosphere.
Most of tables are with "tatami" (ouch!), Japanese style. They also have tables with "normal" chairs and many quiet compartments.
Wu Wei is not expensive at all. We ate and drank for two with 650 NTD (15 euro) - a "smoked duck" set menu and a few dim sums. Of course we drank tea, fragrant golden oolong from Alishan.
Live traditional music is played after 8 PM. Wu Wei also provide courses and tea tasting happenings.
The waitress showed us how to prepare the tea in the traditional way - she spoke a good english.
The Taiwanese method is quite simple indeed, unlike the Japanese tea ceremony. I will write about it later.
This all for the moment ... other chinese tea houses will follow soon!
Wu Wei Tsao Tang Teahouse
No. 106, Section 2, GongYi Rd, Nantun District
Website (chinese): Wuwei Teahouse
View Wu Wei Teahouse in Google Maps
There is of course wonderful coffee available in Taiwan too, so not to leave out our "coffee cousins" here's some information for them too:
Taipei makes list of top 10 global coffee destinations (Taipei Times, 2012/11/04)
Taipei was featured on a list compiled by a US travel service Web site of the top 10 cities around the world that offer unique and delicious coffee drinks.
¡§As surprising as it might seem to the uninitiated, great coffee is part of Taiwan¡¦s national heritage. Freshly roasted, high-quality beans are standard, and slow, labor-intensive brewing methods pave the way to genuinely good coffee,¡¨ Christine Sarkis said in her article, titled World¡¦s 10 Best Cities for Coffee and posted on SmarterTravel.com on Oct. 26.
Taipei is the only Asian city on the list that Sarkis, a senior editor at SmarterTravel, described as places that ¡§celebrate the essence of the bean, each in a unique and delicious way.¡¨
Other places that made it onto the list are Vienna, Austria; Seattle in the US state of Washington; Havana, Cuba; Melbourne, Australia; Lisbon, Portugal; Portland, Oregon; Oslo, Norway; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Vancouver, Canada.
As the author acknowledged, the list leaves off some favorites and has drawn critics, one of whom was upset over the absence of Italian cities from the list.
In response to the survey, people in the Taiwanese coffee business yesterday said they were glad their efforts have received recognition, adding that ¡§the glory today has been the result of our hard work.¡¨
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator-at-Large and owner
of Cafe Philo, Cheng Li-chun (¾GÄR§g), said the ¡§Taipei
coffee¡¨ the survey referred to may actually mean the coffee
industry across the country. She added that the survey shows that Taiwanese
have put great effort into making coffee, she said.
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