Wednesday, May 22, 2013
The pickers work hard at this job. They fill their baskets and then deliver them to be weighed. The results are recorded in the books. Note the picker's blade attached to her finger. Not everyone uses these, but my own attempt at picking showed me how strong the stalk can be. For these high mountain oolong teas, three leaves and a bud get harvested.
Hard work in a very beautiful setting! Thank you to all the people who bring the tea to life.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The trick is to find an incense that compliments the experience and does not overpower, cloy or cling to utensils. When I was in Taiwan over the last few weeks, I became a fan of aloeswood incense (also called agarwood). This wood develops a resin in response to a mold infestation. The resulting aroma is subtle and complex. Aloeswood is a limited (and protected) resource, and so it's pricey. I was very happy to bring home this box as a gift for the DH.
Do you know this incense?
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I am now spending a few days visiting with friends, drinking tea and meditating at the Tea Sage Hut, after a wonderful two weeks of traveling to tea farms in Taiwan. Today we visited the town of San Yi which is known for its wood carvings. Lots of beautiful, large-scale works of art in not only wood but also stone and metal. The textures, contrast and expressions drew me to these images.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Scooters are everywhere in Taiwan! They are the primary mode of transportation for many, many people. Makes me miss Stella, my former scooter.
Photos (click to enlarge): pink power!, doing business off the back of a scooter, temple entrance in background, row of scooters in foreground
Sunday, May 12, 2013
This tour should be called the tea AND food tour! Taiwan food is amazing, with its influence of Chinese, Japanese and local flavors, not to mention all the fresh fruit! We've had guava, pineapple, lychee, wax apple, peaches, cantaloupe, plum, watermelon, mango, papaya, and more different types of bananas than I knew existed. Taiwan is a very safe place to eat fruit and street foods.
Taiwan is famous for its night markets with stand after stand of snack food. These are very popular and lots of fun! We visited the night market on a warm and muggy evening. It reminded me of being at the county fair, except way better food and lots more people.
Some of the things our group tried (see below): Fish balls, Taiwanese sausage, sticky rice and peanuts in sausage skin, Taiwanese fried chicken (a specialty, really good!) and oyster/egg scramble, and stinky tofu! This infamous treat is fermented tofu that is deep fried and served with a sauce and cabbage. Our group described it as smelling a little barnyardish. I liked it, tho! The taste is milder than the smell. We also had fresh fruit juices, and cream, sesame and red bean fillings inside a waffle-like batter made into a shell.
Friday, May 10, 2013
Buddhist nun serving tea
We've just returned from four days on the Alishan mountain and at Sun Moon lake, both important tea growing areas in Taiwan. I'll focus first on Alishan. The region is so beautiful! We were welcomed by the tea farmer like family and stayed at the tea farm. Tea, tea and more tea!
Time for Wu-Wo, too. I'm learning of the concept of "affinity" - and under such, we spontaneously met a group of Buddhist nuns while doing Wu-Wo tea beside a beautiful rock. They invited us to have tea at their temple. (Which we did). Beautiful gardens at the temple and ironically, a treasure trove of Taiwanese crackers and cookies.
Witnessing the picking and making of tea is particularly exciting for me. We followed the lifecycle of tea from picking to processing to packaging. The tea at this farm for this season was picked in four days and we got to see the heart of the alchemy to turn it from picked leaf to dry tea. This included getting up at midnight to witness "killing the green" - stopping the oxidation with heat. We tasted teas that were finished just hours prior. Majestic views, wonderful people and fragrant, luscious tea. My heart is full of gratitude!
Photos (click to enlarge): view of Alishan mountains, tea fields and village; grandma and Granddaughter making tea; Wu-Wo; tea withering; "killing the green" to stop the oxidation (using heat tubes); Buddhist nun making tea