In Taiwan for tea – first part

Nearly a year ago, we started importing teas from an entirely new area, Taiwan, to our shop. Thanks to great contacts, we thus can select from a large number of excellent teas from small farmers from around the country. All selected farmers grow their teas in a completely unique and very environmental-friendly way. In tea growing, they use no chemical growth enhancers or pesticides. The tea plants grow in the unspoiled countryside of the Taiwanese mountains. The farmers have been certified by the Taiwanese certification authority, which is unfortunately not accepted by the EU, thus we do not label them as organic.
As it is our habit to get to know the farmers and places where the tea is grown, this time we set out to visit picturesque Taiwan. We set out on our journey with our friend, great ceramist and tea-lover, Petr Novak. With the upcoming spring, tea harvests started not only in Darjeeling or Japan, but also here on this island, which the Portuguese called the Ihla Formosa, the Beautiful Island.
We flew to Taipei and settled with our friend Dan, who became our guide for the local tea subculture for the following days. We visited teashops, big and small, there are hundreds of them in Taipei, we went to local tearooms and drank lots and lots of miniature cups of great tea.
We were lucky to meet several wonderful people, Taipei’s tea celebrities.
We were hugely impressed by a meeting with Mr. Cheng, who invited us to his beautiful house he himself designed, where he also has his clothes studio. Mister Cheng is a huge supporter of culture and organizer of many social (and tea) events, he has a publishing house where he publishes cultural brochures and artists’ catalogues in small quantities. He is also well-known as a connoisseur of tea, Taiwanese culture and history. We learnt lots of interesting pieces of information about the current search for Taiwanese identity. The clothes Mr. Cheng designs are very traditional, with a reference to the Chinese and Taiwanese history, and he is at the top of his branch.
The place we probably liked the most in Taipei was an old tearoom of Wistaria, which is situated in a historic house in Japanese style. It is one of the very few places in the world where you may order and taste very, but really very old pu-erhs. The place has a great style with history breathing on you. Our hosts, Dan and his wife Min, work occasionally in Wistaria, thus we learnt a lot of pokies online its history and present day.
Another very nice meeting was prepared for us by Dan on the following day. He took us to visit a tea master and businessman, Mr. Tsai. In his tearoom in old Chinese style, he treated us to excellent Taiwanese and Chinese teas from his produce. Among others, a completely genius traditionally processed Tie Guan Jin, or a very delicious tea of Lapsan Souchong type, accompanied with a detailed explanation. This famous Chinese red tea, which we know with very intense smoke aroma, was traditionally processed similarly to other oxidized teas. As heating was on in the rooms (mostly using dry pine wood), the tea acquired very faint and fine smoke aroma. It was only later when the tea started to be exported to Europe and ships used heating (firing often with moist wood) to prevent the tea from going mouldy, when the oversmoked tea started to appear as we know it today. The tea we drank had a very bright, brisk and fruity taste with a mild hint of smoke in later brews. We would very much like this tea to appear in our offer in the future. However, the price was somewhat astronomical.
All of our hosts admired Petr’s ceramics a lot as he showed it on photographs. Whoever saw it, appreciated it a lot.
We were very surprised when Mr. Tsai called us on the next day that he organized a meeting for us with his friend Mr. Zhou Yu. Mr. Zhou Yu owns the Wistaria tearoom and he is a great tea master, he had even visited the Czech Republic a few years ago, promoting Taiwanese teas in the world. It was a programme organized by the Taipei University. We were very much looking forward to meeting Mr. Zhou Yu.
A pleasant and intense meeting with Mr. Zhou and his friend Mr. Tsai took place in a cosy lounge of the Wistariatearoom, with a huge tree with massive roots growing behind its glass wall. Mr. Zhou is a very lively and nice person with experience and insight, which is rarely seen. He remembered his journey to Czech tearooms and how a tearoom in Brno brought their own water from a forest spring which was fantastic. Over a cup of tea, he talked about what tea drinking is giving him, about the insight tea gives to a person, making the outlook on life easier. It was a very pleasant and intense talk, by no means shallow as it often happens during similar meetings, but it was really deep, touching us all.
Meanwhile we had lots of great tea. Among others, a sixty-year-old pu-erh from the period when Chiang Kai-shek came to Taiwan from China.
It was an exceptional meeting at an exceptional place. If you ever visit Taipei, do not miss the Wistaria tearoom.

Comments are closed.

Klasek Tea
Přístavní 39
1710 00 Praha 7
tel.: +420 777 052 974

© Daniel Klásek / Design Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS)