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DAY 5 - Razor blades in the high mountains

tea picking

The fifth day of my time in Taiwan started with a visit to one of the most extraordinary tea estates I have been to. Nestled high in the mountains amongst breathtaking scenery and run by Master Chen and his son, this estate was very much worth the twisty precipitous journey.

I was immensely fortunate that our visit coincided with a plucking day. A small swarm of pickers just happened to be close enough to the paths to experience  close up what an art tea picking is. The speed and accuracy with which they moved amongst the bushes was incredible. A first for me was spotting a male tea picker. Seeing up close the use of razors taped to the pickers fingers was also fascinating.

Razor blades

Once finished they returned to the factory to have their tea weighed, before it was taken from them to start processing.  After much banter their yield had been recorded and were heading back to their homes. Very soon a blanket of green covered the outdoor withering area as the factory team took over.

Picked leaf

After tasting the estates beautiful teas it was time to (unwillingly) leave and head back down the mountain. Next stop was another Tea Research and Extension Station, this was primarily involved in the testing of teas for pesticide levels. This is a vital part of Taiwan's tea programme and is very impressive.

Very soon it was time to depart, this time to the home of one of the new generation of tea professionals. Tommy Tang (along with his sister) has been in the tea business for three years and is already taking Taiwanese tea to a new audience. His house has four different tea houses (or sets) in it to bring his clients to and introduce them to his teas. Baking Amber oolongs is his passion. After taking the tour of his baking room (where he will spend 3 days at a time sometimes) and  tasting his exceptional teas it was sadly time to depart and bring another packed day to a close.

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