Twenty years ago Eve and her husband Gary, set out for a cup of tea. Their journey, which started in Cornwall, ended when the couple were introduced by their best friend, Mr H Linn,
to a small tea plantation high in the mountains of in an idyllic tropical paradise, Taiwan.
Eve noticed that the farmer used peanut shells as a fertilizer and that he frowned on the senseless use of pesticides. The farmer explained that he did not want to upset the small leaf hopper insects. These natural allies changed an enzyme in the leaves, and this helped to give them a naturally sweet taste which negated the need for sugar or milk.
The farmer encouraged weeds, as he said that the softer vegetation was far more attractive to slugs and caterpillars than his treasured tea plants. The tea plants were planted amongst the palm trees to protect them from the wind, and his farm was bathed in a nutrient rich mist, carried from the warm Pacific ocean. This, he explained stopped the delicate roots of the plants from drying out.
The tea garden was situated at an altitude of between 1100 and 1800 meters. This meant that there was an ambient all year round temperature of between 16 and 27 degrees Celsius. This the farmer continued, meant that his ancient plants grew slowly and steadily in a manner synonymous with the Japanese art of Bonsai, and this meant that his tea plants developed richer flavors and significantly higher quantities of polyphenols and catechins, which are an essential component in maintaining good health. He went on to explain that, with a perfect climate his tea, especially during harvesting and sun withering produced less astringency or bitterness than most of teas.
His tea garden, as with several others in the area, tended to be small holdings and so, the farmer explained, his ancestors had concentrated in the production of small but impressive batches of oolong and black tea. These were sold directly through an extensive network of friends and family, and he went on, some Harvests were sold out before the tea was even picked.
It was at the edge of a mountain spring, that the farmer drew a pale of water. This was warmed over a log fire. The farmer told Eve that the process of tea making "Gong Fu" or the "way of tea" was based on four elements; Earth in the shape of his small clay tea pot, water from the spring, fire from the glowing embers that were heating the water and air, in the way that the tea would fall from the spout of the tea pot to the small glass cups below.
His tea was incredible; fruity, fresh and sweet to taste and to the couples surprise there was no tannic aftertaste. The farmer pointed out that tannins occur in mass produced teas (such as those grown in China and India) as they are encouraged to grow rapidly in areas of hot weather and high rainfall.
Since that day in 2002, Eve has been introduced to a network of tea masters throughout the island and tasted over 125 different Oolongs from the various areas of island.
Eve, has personally inspected several tea gardens, and with assistance of some of Taiwans leading tea masters, procured access to a limited amount of this most treasured beverage. Eve is so convinced as to the quality of her tea, that she offers a 21 day money back guarantee if not completely satisfied.
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