Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Taiwan East Coast Tea Pickers

The focus of this blog is Chinese tea, its successful brewing, appreciation and all the tea culture that tea has inspired.

Today, though, I just want to post a few recent pictures of those brave, strong, happy Taiwanese women who pick our leaves when the sun is high in the sky. Without them, still willing to do a tough manual work, picking leaves one by one, we would have to satisfy ourselves with machine cut leaves. So, if your hand harvested tea is particularly sweet, it's in small part thanks to them.
Most important to them is a good protection against the strong sun.
A well deserved pause after the first round of harvesting. Here comes there second breakfast at 9AM: congee (overcooked rice). This will give them strength to continue the harvest while being easy to digest. And they love it!

Like everywhere else on the planet, most young people don't stay to work in the countryside. Besides, tea picking is very seasonal. So, the farmers are relying mostly on 55+ year old women to harvest their plantations. Most are family related to the farmer or (old) friends with the farmer's wife.

There were some who were shy and didn't want to have their picture taken. But most were happy and proud to show a foreigner what they do and how they look like in their outfits.
Below is the only young harvesting woman I saw in this group. She's a Vietnamese and married a local Taiwanese farmer.
Thanks to all of you and bon appétit!

See also this beautiful picture of a picker in Ali Shan.

8 comments:

Bruno said...

To all of these Brave workers, without them we cannot have a little bit Paradise in our cups, so Live Long and Prosper.

christian said...

Superbes images! Lorsque tu reverras ces cueilleuses,assures leur que là bas, en France, en buvant "le fruit de leur travail" nous pensons à elles.

Paul Shoul said...

ck in the future for more Taiwan images and for my coming story on my recent trip to Alisan.
http://www.gonomad.com/roundworldphoto/
http://www.paulshoulphotography.com/

Stephane said...

Thanks for your comments.

And thank you Paul for your link. I see that you have posted one new picture of Ali Shan tea pickers on your blog today. Great pictures in your blog, BTW! And that picker looks like she could be my great grand mother!

lionel said...

Je voulais delivrer le meme message que Christian, à savoir que j'adresse toute ma reconnaissance à ces femmes, taiwanaises, ou chinoises, qui au prix d'un travail physique difficile que l'on ressent au travers de ces images, sont un maillon essentiel grâce auquel nous européens pouvons bénéficier de si belles recoltes, de si belles feuilles...
Stéphane, dès que tu les rencontreras à nouveau , merci de temoigner toute notre gratitude à ces courageuses femmes...

Xtreem said...

Please thank them for me Stephane nex time you vis it them. I really appreciate what they do, Im sure all of us do!

Naruwan said...

I love your photos out in the field, especially the ones which include these hardworking ladies. Any idea what kind of income a typical tea picker earns?

Also I was wondering if you had ever heard of any tourist tea farms in Taiwan where tourists can have a go at picking tea. I'd like to try! I bet I won't last more than half an hour before I start complaining about the heat or my aching limbs!

Stephane said...

Naruwan,
I have no idea how much they make. My best guess is somewhere around 1500-2000 NTD per day.

I don't know of any tourist tea farm. Sometimes, there are some tours that are organized by the local farmer's association. Maybe that's a place to ask if you don't know a tea farmer. Otherwise, I think almost any farmer would be glad to show the process to a foreigner.