茶事When it comes to tea
The origin and development of Taiwanese
The origin and development of Taiwanese tea and the culture of it, blended with the sincere spirit of co-prosperity of our mother earth, plus the combination with the oriental concept of Zen, which has become a unique meditation-tea spirit. Professionals in tea pursues perfection and the teaism (which is also known as chadou) has become the cultural representative of Taiwan. Taiwanese tea has integrated many innovative features over the past 20 years, upon the developments of foamed black tea, pearl milk tea and various tea drinks, blazing a trail internationally and has become a part of the trend.
(The Grand View of Wen-Shan County, 1953)
During the Qing Dynasty in Taiwan, year 1866, a Scottish businessman John Dodd imported “Oolong” tea seedlings from China and named it: FORMOSA Oolong Tea, which has begun the path of trading upon Taiwanese tea internationally. From 1881-1894, the total export volume of tea accounted for more than 50% of the whole exportation at that time. Between 1885-1887, it was even over 70% of the above mentioned for three consecutive years. Tea was the leading industrial representative of Taiwan at that stage, moreover, it represented passion and warmth of this land towards tea. “FORMOSA Tea” has been sold to more than 50 countries overseas, which has created outstanding achievements in the economic developments of Taiwan, also made Da-dao-cheng area of Taipei a major economic heartland upon tea culture. The narrative of tea within this land is just about to get more excited.
Lee, Chun-Sheng, who has the title of “Father of Taiwanese Tea”, made, labelled and sold “Formosa Oolong Tea” in 1869, shipped it to New York under the name of “Taiwanese Tea”. It was highly praised and sold successfully within European and American markets. Da-dao-cheng is then in the position of an international trading city while it’s also the first tea-based city in Taiwan. It is full of tea and cultural humanistic scent, which makes people yearn. During the period of 1890, there were more than 60 tea factories in Da-dao-cheng especially in producing Oolong tea, and a furthermore of 250 tea merchants or more. At that time, the two major economic crops were sugar and tea in Taiwan, therefore, there is a saying of ‘Southern Sugar / Northern Tea’, which Northern Tea is known as Da-dao-cheng. ‘Taipei Tea Merchants Association’ is also known as the oldest business guild so far. As for promoting internationally, every package began to illustrate proposal writing being printed by the guide, the ones being exported to Europe and the States, also had English translations, which illustrates the strategic vision of developments at that time, it is the vision, which has made the economy in Taiwan valuable.
The ‘Tea Research and Extension Station’ could be mentioned as the heart of the research and development towards the Taiwanese tea culture. It has contributed hugely to the promotion of culture and education of Taiwanese tea. Formerly known as the ‘Governor’s Bureau of Tea Production and Experimental Laboratory in Cao-nan-po of Taiwan’ which was established in 1903, at the year of 1968, merged the Experimental Institute in Ping-zhen town, the Tea Industrial Experimental branch in Yu-chi town, the Tea of Lin-kou county, and related authorities like Industrial Training Institute and established the name of ‘Taiwanese Tea Industrial and Extension Station’. Finally, in 1999, it was renamed as the ‘Tea Research and Extension Station’. Due to the emergence of the field for tea reformation, that is when the culture of Taiwanese tea commences a systematic education program, and genetically modified various kinds of tea leaves successfully, to fit the local conditions and flavors better, which is an important driving force of Taiwanese tea culture.
In 1983, after a hundred years of historical developments in the culture of tea, profound cultural humanistic and creative heritage have been accumulated, under the unique cultural atmosphere of Taiwan, and developed its own characteristics. The initiate method that time was to use a shaker to cool the drinks down rapidly. When the first cup of foamed black tea was being made, its taste was highly praised, it was later re-mixed again with milk tea powder and tapioca balls in 1987, that created the worldwide known “Pearl Milk Tea”, which opened a new era of cold tea drinks. Nowadays, cold tea shops selling various flavors that could be seen all over Taiwan, and similar shops are often seen all over the world under the names of Taiwanese brands. It represents achievements in changing the way of drinking tea amongst the world on behalf of Taiwanese tea culture.
Cold tea drinks have already been flourishing in Taiwan when it comes to 2001, the way on how the culture of tea exported had been changed as well. From the exportation of tea in the past to the exportation of the brands, it has become a boom internationally, not only had it swept Vietnam, Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries, but also the establishment of the first ever store upon handmade tea in New York in 2016, enjoyed equal popularity with the boutique coffee brands. The well-known handmade tea does not only open aboard, it also brought a strong after-effect, upon sightseeing and tourism, visitors not only drink cold tea drinks in Taiwan, but also ‘takeaway’ Taiwanese tea. It has become a new highlight of Taiwanese tea culture internationally.
Tea industry used to create amazing economic achievements in Taiwan. Though it was once muted by historical changes, many tea factories have also been transformed or closed. As for now, under the trend of cold tea drinks, handmade cold tea has become the new miracle of Taiwanese economy. As far as 2016, the beverage store industry broke through 20,000 in Taiwan, not to mention a 10% growth rate every year, more than 5,000 stores have been opened amongst the top 10 brands overseas, the pace of expanding Taiwanese tea culture in the global distribution continues. According to the statistics in 2017, the production value of Taiwanese tea has reached 150 billion New Taiwanese Dollars. Taiwanese people drink 1.2 billion cups of handmade tea in a year. The culture of Taiwanese tea is not only a taste of enjoyment, but also becomes part of our daily life.
The Art of Tea
The trips of tea, the banquet of tea
Taiwan is located at the tropics and subtropics, surrounded by the sea, with more than 200 peaks over 3,000 meters above sea level. With the unique geographical location, vast alpine hilly terrain and island-type climate it becomes the most suitable area for the growth of tea trees in the world. In addition, the high-humidity environment plus a low fogging point, brews a special aroma, on top of the soothing taste and other nice qualities of Taiwanese tea.
The unusual environment of the soil creates different flavors of teas characteristically distributed in northern, central, southern and eastern Taiwan. The distinguished tea produced in each region has its unique aromas and taste.
The culture of Taiwanese tea has been going on for more than a hundred years. It’s an indispensable part of local life. From adulthood to weddings, daily life to businesses, life centers tea. Sip tea in life. May quality tea accompany you during every moment.
The Significance of Tea
Taiwanese tea culture has changed the way how people used to understand tea. It swifts from the characteristics of tea itself to the mental state of ‘tea artists’. They’re messengers between tea lovers and the actual tea, leads appreciation to the aesthetics of the space and to sense the conception of ‘Zen’. Through the elegant atmosphere, the scent transforms and lifts the level of drinkers, a feast for the souls and spirits
The development of its culture has extended from drinking to the creativity of aesthetics in life, producing a great quantity of related goods.