Thursday, January 24, 2013

Old Woman And The Tea


Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.
― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea (1951) 
PIndong 屏東 in south Taiwan is perhaps the most untouched part of the Taiwanese tea scene. Some would say the undefeated part of the Taiwanese tea. There is just a small patch of tea growing totally isolated from the main tea growing areas of Taiwan.

It seems that the tea gardens were established during the Qing dynasty 清朝 period when the governor of the area allowed some tea farmers from Fujian 福建省 to establish tea gardens there. As per the matriarch who showed us around, the tea plants were brought over from Wuyi mountains 武夷山. She is the 5th generation tea farmer.

Till now the tea farmers of Pindong have shunned all new varieties (cultivars) of tea plants. They still plant new tea from seeds from the original tea trees from Wuyi Shan. No cuttings or clonal plants for them.  They tried the clonal technique 30-40 years ago but gave it up because the tea bushes became too weak. 

What makes it a unique place is that just a kilometer or so away is the Pacific Ocean blowing all the salty air to the tea gardens. 

As for the tea, it has a strange and unique taste and may not be everyone's cup of tea.

Top two images: The matriarch and her tea garden in Pindong, Taiwan
3rd and 4th images: The garden is organic and there were lots of insects and bees. The two buds and the shoot / leaves were small to tiny.
Bottom image: Taiwan rises dramatically from the Pacific Ocean on the east coast at Pindong not far from Eluanbi 鵝卵鼻, the southern most point of Taiwan. 
All images from January 2013

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