Last Saturday, at the second floor of Wang Yo Ji's tea house, tea lovers gathered to drink tea, listen to Chinese music, watch a tea packaging exhibition and hear several speeches and presentations about Formosa Oolong Tea.
Margot, a French reader of my blog, came to the event following my invitation and it was a delight to meet her. For all those who couldn't come, I'm posting this article and pictures to share the best moments with you.
The Cha Xis were exquisite and the spring 2011 High Moutain Oolongs came from 1500 meters up to 2200 meters elevations! Jason (from Penn State's Tea Institute) demonstrated his competition set skills.
The first speaker was Geow Yong Tea's president (left). He heads an old tea house (since 1842!), but decided in 2003 to rejuvenate its image, location and packaging. He told us how difficult this was, because it meant abandoning some of its (very old) customers while not having new customers yet!
Mr He, editor of the Artist Magazine (middle, standing), also shared his thoughts on the artistic side of ancient tea culture and packaging. Then Mr Lin, the journalist sitting in the middle, spoke about ancient tea postcards. Approximately 20 postcards like the one below are shown in the exhibition.
The first thing that surprises us is that we see Mt Fuji and Japanese tea gardens in Suruga, Japan. So, why is it 'Compliments of Formosa Oolong Tea'? Hokusai is a famous Japanese painter and printmaker (1760-1849). Then, why is this text under the postcard written in English?
If you know the answers, please leave a comment. The first 3 best answers will receive a free sample of my spring 2010 Shan Lin Shi Luanze Oolong.
Listening to people telling us stories about the excellence of Formosa Oolong Tea makes us thirsty. Luckily, several of Teaparker's students brewed Oolong with style.
Nankuan traditional music brought us back in time!
Mr. Wang, the owner of the place, took the guests on tour of his tea house (lien en français). Until the early 1960s, this tea house was mostly exporting flower scented Baozhong to Thailand and East Asia. Then, as this business stopped, they started to focus on the local Taiwanese tea market.
One of the speciality of such old places was their traditional charcoal roasting. Mr. Wang even had 2 baskets in 'action' for us to see and smell. They were releasing a lot of heat. It felt almost like in a sauna! No wonder the workers used to only wear their underpants.
There are 4 stages (from right to left) for the charcoal. The charcoal is broken in pieces to reduce the presence of oxygen. This helps preventing flames.
The roasting only happens on the last stage, when the fire has disappeared and all that remains are hot ashes on top.
The charcoal used comes from fruit trees (longan, for instance), because their fragrance are the sweetest.
The afternoon continued with more Formosa Oolong and talk between tea friends!
At the end of the day, Teaparker gave us a guided tour of the exhibit. They include very rare and old tea packages. One tea package even commemorates the Boston tea party! This exhibit will remain open to the public until the end of June. (Sundays are usually closed).
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