Day two of my tour of Taiwan's amazing tea started with a trip to a beautiful nursery, where cultivars are grown for the tea farms. Cultivars are simply a cultivated variety of a tea plant. Desirable variations in a plant have been noticed and this plant has then been cultivated (new plants grown from the original) to maintain these variations. At this nursery seven cultivars were being grown, all for farmers who wanted the best plant for their chosen type of tea.
From the nursery we travelled to the Taiwan Research and Extension Station. This is a centre for the development of Taiwanese tea. Their land covers area from 100m above sea level up to 1000m. This allows them the plant and evaluate different variations of tea at different elevations to advise farmers on the best choice. This is a major reason why Taiwanese tea is so great.
We then moved on to a small estate where I hand rolled a Brandy oolong. This is a heavily oxidised oolong with many of the characteristics of a black tea. Freshly picked leaves are rolled in a circular motion in one direction for around one and a half hours until they form long thin shapes and the leaf cells are bruised to speed up oxidation. They are then left for a period of time to oxidise further until heat is used to stop the process. I will be bringing my tea home and sampling it in the tea house. There are no promises on its quality!
To finish off the day I tasted exquisite teas served by a tea master. As always a phenomenal experience but made even more interesting when his 11 year old son, himself a junior tea master champion, took over and continued to brew perfect tea. Tomorrow I will visit the gardens where the tea came from and that are farmed by the tea master. In the afternoon and into the night I will again make tea, this time looking at baking oolongs.