Tea Stories

Tea Stories

Story | Tea Picking

Tea picking has always been a dreamy job to me. Imagine being surrounded by tea trees every day and working in the sun, who wouldn't want to do that everyday? 

Do you know what tea pickers do? 

Tea picking is a physical demanding job, in the past and in the present too. Premium Taiwanese teas are hand picked so the leaves are wholesome instead of missing the stem or missing half the leaf. The tea pickers carry big bamboo baskets on their back, get up to work before dawn and then spend entire mornings working up and down the hilly tea farms. Sometimes the pickers also help with oxidizing the tea leaves on bamboo trays and sorting out the quality of the leaves in the afternoon and evenings.

Did you know Taiwan had tea picking competitions?

In early and mid 90s, Taiwan held annual tea picking competitions. It gathers all the best tea pickers in Taiwan. They competed on 3 things:
1. Cleanly pick all the good leaves from the section they are assigned.

2. Two leaf one bud standard with first leaf 70% of the second leaf.
3. The weight of the leaves they picked.

Let's hear it from a retired tea picker...

My grandma was a professional tea picker. In mandarin it's called "採茶女" which means "picking tea lady". One weekend afternoon, she sat down and told us all about her passion.

She use to attend tea picking competitions every year. There's one summer she'll never forget. She picked long and hard under the summer heat along with the other contestants. She was so confident her teas would be the best thus winning the grand prize however, all the contestants were asked to put down their tea baskets to take a few photos. When she return to find her basket, she realized the tea baskets were all mixed up! No one knew which is which anymore. Grandma was so upset about what happened she remembered till this day. 

Tea picking ladies wearing big bamboo hats and bamboo baskets.

Tea picking ladies wearing big bamboo hats and bamboo baskets.

Tea ladies doing quality control. They are sorting through tea leaves and picking out the teas that are not up to standard.

Tea ladies doing quality control. They are sorting through tea leaves and picking out the teas that are not up to standard.

Next time you sip tea, treasure it and appreciate it! Every single leaf was picked by by hand with passion and dedication for tea. It's an essential element to amazing Taiwanese teas.

That's all for now everyone! Thank you for reading, next week, we'll talk about the different kinds of Taiwanese teas!

With tea,
Jenny

Tea Stories

The beginning...

Welcome to the inaugural blog post of the Formosa Tea Story Project! We like to start by introducing ourselves and why are we doing this project.

Our family come from a long line of Hakka tea farmers in  Hsinchu, Taiwan. What is Hakka you ask?  客家人 literally means The Guest People. Hakka is a subgroup of Han Chinese who moved from North China to Central China and settled largely in Canton, Taiwan and Hong Kong. (We'll tell you more about Hakka people later.) 

Our great great grandpa started tea farming in early 1900s. Our Lo family tea farm produced baihao oolong, black teas and green teas. The love for Taiwan tea extended down the line and now me, Jenny, the 17th generation, is continuing the passion for Taiwan tea.

Our tea factory, Golden Mountain established 1923 April 16. 

Our tea factory, Golden Mountain established 1923 April 16. 

Formosa Tea Story Project originated from the long afternoons of my grandpa telling me about his tea stories. One day, I wonder to myself, what if we share these stories and collect more stories to share with everyone? Formosa Tea Story's sole goal is to document and share the wonderful tea stories that happened and are happening in the beautiful Formosa Taiwan.  

Come, join us in this journey, taking us way way back in time. Let's begin with one of my grandma's stories "Tea picking competition" Read about it next week. Make sure to subscribe below so you don't miss a single story!

With tea,
Jenny