Posted by: Winnie of Teance | April 22, 2012

New Blog is now at Tumblr

It is teaadventures.tumblr.com

Why did I move the blog? Well, even WordPress was attracting attention in China now, and who knows when they will block it too. Also, Tumblr will feed directly into the new website up and coming so it might work better. Anyway, this year’s blog posts are already on Tumblr so please check it out!

Posted by: Winnie of Teance | October 30, 2011

Just in the nick of time

The tea adventures continue, but on a different blog, which fortunately I moved to because there was again, no access to WordPress in China.
It is now at:

Teaadventures.tumblr.com

Posted by: Winnie of Teance | June 21, 2011

A cyclone!

Haven’t been in a cyclone tornado for a while, and here is one brewing up nicely all morning. Hoping not to have too much trouble boarding my flight from HK! Typhoons and tornados are a fact of life on these islands, and the sound and fury is less than the actual situation. I remember as a kid, these were the days home from school, watching whole windows getting blown away, and hoping yours won’t.

Hope to see everyone on July 8th to the Summer Harvest Party, where we will taste Competition winner Taiwan Beauty, Old Beauty, lots of the new batches of Royal Courtesan and High Mountain and Tung Ting Oolongs, as well as the Japan greens, all teas we have worked very hard to obtain this year!

http://www.teance.com/Classes_Events_Teance_s/60.htm

Posted by: Winnie of Teance | June 21, 2011

Ren Ching Wei II

Mrs Su of Tung Ting Mtn

My friends gasped: Mrs Su is so cool! she’s a super woman!

They could not help but taste the difference in her tea, her vegetables she pickled, the big old bunch of bananas that she grew, the super sized squash she made the restaurant cook for us. Everything has her generosity and earthiness, her lack of need for return (except she wanted some seeds to grow the best looking foreign vegetables in her garden!).  My friends have never met someone they had just met, who was so considerate, capable, and caring all at once.

Our bus driver heard that my friends were food fanatics, so he droved us around to the best local tofu stand (twice), the oldest  mochi stand, meat dumplings, pineapple stall (super sweet), bakery, and others.  Mr. Su’s friend heard that I was vegetarian, so he made okra, bitter melons, and wild wood ears for me.

The people of Taiwan wear their heart on their sleeves, and hardly afraid to connect with people, even those they just met. They jump at the chance to share and revel at your happiness and enjoyment. They love to be hospitable. Even the city people in Taipei, slightly less tolerant and inundated with too many foreigners (read: mainland Chinese) are still really helpful. They invite you in to their circles without question.

I have never been quite as struck by the quality of the people here, and in Japan as well last week. Although less formal and polite, the Taiwanese hover a bit more, but all because they really, really want to make sure you are taken care of. This had nothing to do with business. The old guy at the mochi stand gave us three free bowls of mochi for me, my cousin, and the driver because we couldn’t park and stayed in the bus, while my friends went to buy mochi. For 4 bowls of mochi, the old vendor gave us 3 more so no one was left out.

I depart from Taiwan this evening to return to HK, another lovely, efficient, city.

Posted by: Winnie of Teance | June 20, 2011

High Mountain, Bright Sun, Dense Fog

Steep hills,

Rolling thunder,

a mid-summer typhoon,

Gotta get this tea through U.S. Customs

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Posted by: Winnie of Teance | June 20, 2011

and how was the tea?

Four Seasons Nantou ‘Si ji Chun’: perfectly custom made for us: Check.

Jin Shuan Oolong: Got that creamy milky fragrance this year! : Check

Tung Ting Oolong: High floral fragrance, Taiwan undertow of spicy notes, exceptional as always: Check

Charcoal Roast Tung Ting: Spiffy and fresh out of the  charcoal pit, roasted for 20 hours or so. Excellent now but should let it sit for 3-4 more months for the fire taste to subside.

High Mountain Light Roast: Exceptional, but compared to what? There are hardly other teas on the planet in its league.  Have never fallen below my expectations. Never had to downgrade.  It’s lonely at the top.

High Mountain Dark Roast: aside from fiery, it is intense and fragrant at the same time. Breathe through upper palate to appreciate the layers.

and…

the  Royal Courtesan I fought with my life for? (exaggeration. I had merely not spray enough DEET on myself)

Perfumey and elegant as always, but very intoxicating, this batch.  No other tea is quite like it. Mrs. Su, our producer-wonder, says the bugs were plentiful but chewed on the leaves a bit haphazardly this year, so the worst looking bites produced the best tasting tea, but some leaves still looked presentable. “Hen Xiang” is all she will say about it, meaning very fragrant. We know better. A Courtesan is temperamental, shows up when she feels like it, and her presence is announced well in advance with her fragrance. Then she intoxicates you. What a more apt namesake for this tea?

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Posted by: Winnie of Teance | June 20, 2011

Suffering vs. Reward

Not sure when it happened, but the teabuyer, me, succumbed to the dreaded CENTIPEDE sometime during one of the hikes, probably through the forest with all the amazing creatures, on the way to see the Taiwan Beauty field.  When I was a child living on the island of Hainan, I came face to face with a centipede when I was a toddler, and stopped in my tracks, and pointed it out to my mom. Smart, mom said, that I knew better, at age one, not to want to cross paths with a furry, deadly crawler. I have however, been bitten by a scorpion on my neck some years later when it dropped from a tree on me. These were everlasting memories.

So I haven’t been on a tropical island in the summer since I was 4; this year, I decided to brave out the horrors, since two of my favorite teas are made at this time and I have never dared to come photograph it during production season before.

My centipede attack was almost deadly. The bite itself became increasingly painful and hot to the touch. But worst of all, a rash started to spread in a radius. This was the mother of all rashes. Huge and frightfully disfiguring, the swells and eruptions full of puss, itchy, painful, and  second degree in burn sensation. Blisters form and reform.

The hospitality and the Ren Ching Wei of the island people show themselves during this painful attack. Each person I met, including the bus driver, had some ready made concoction they felt would work. Our B and B landlady gave me some oil she saved for insect bites that looks like stuff from the 1970s. The bus driver had some homemade cream. Mr. Su had an ointment he saved from his army days, all purpose, particularly for really nasty stuff.

At the end, we went to the local farm clinic, where the doc laughed it off. Centipede, he said, and some very bad allergic reactions. I got a shot, and some unknown drugs. The whole ordeal took 10 minutes and 400 NT  (roughly $13 USD) at the clinic.

My last photo of the mosquito bites was ill received, so I will post some nicer photos here, for the second half:  Reward. More reward than the tea? Did I mention it’s around 36 C but feels like 40 C? and the flying bugs, did I mention those yet? Tea can make up for a lot of suffering, but for this level, we have to supplement:

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Posted by: Winnie of Teance | June 19, 2011

Extreme Stress

Produces great tea?

First, the bushes grow without fertilizer and pesticide. Then,  they grow on hot, bug filled jungle like fields. They are runty and not pretty, and the Leaf Hoppers eat the leaves, making the buds even uglier.  Then, they sit in a very sunny, very hot room to wilt, and then oxidized in even hotter temperatures.

The result? The ugly duckling grows up into an indescribably perfumey oolong called Taiwan Beauty.

Hand made from start to finish, and only small quantities can be made each year, nonetheless both production and demand are on the rise year after year, as Taiwan gets hotter and hotter, the season now stretches from June to November!  And the older  leaves that don’t qualify as Taiwan Beauty are made into Black tea, sold to China and the Chinese sell it as….Taiwan Beauty.

 

Posted by: Winnie of Teance | June 18, 2011

Addendum to Old Beauty

The Old Beauty was Taiwan Beauty, aged somewhere since the early 90s, so anywhere between 20 to 6 years old.  As for the taste, well, it is like really sweet honey water with an ending note of Hinoki wood, less spicy than the young Beauties.  In real life though, do women get sweeter or spicier with age? Judging from the women I have met in Japan and Taiwan, the younger women keep up the appearances of being sweeter, but once they passed 40, all appearances are off!

Thank goodness the Taiwan Beauty teas age really well.

Posted by: Winnie of Teance | June 18, 2011

An Old Beauty

Ms Lin, the tea master who wins competitions every year in 3-4 categories at a time (as in, she wins first, second, third, and also runner up), joked that the older the Beauty, the better. She is an indeterminate age, looking somewhere between 28 and 58. Her knowledge and history of making this tea famously though, puts her probably in her early fifties. No one gets that good at any sort of early age.  We tasted her 1990s Taiwan Beauty, the original batch made over charcoal fire like the best of them do today. Sealed off almost completely from air, the Old Beauty has this sort of very pronounced sweet honey taste, really as if you have added honey, finishing in a strong fragrance of hinoki wood.

Ms Lin, teamaster

I have some Second place winner from the winter, and the Old Beauty with me to taste at the summer Harvest Party!

 

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