Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Taiwan Tea

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Homage to the Art of Tea 

Continuing on my tours near Taipei, I thank you for sticking with me on this journey!

The art of serving tea is quite a formal affair in Asia, and my education continues… 

housand Island Lake–a river winding. Homage to the Art of Tea. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Taiwan Tea
Thousand Island Lake–a river winding

The next day, a different tour and a different guide, but all things tea. We began by driving through winding mountain roads up to a tea plantation near a winding river that looked like the coils of a dragon. Pinglin tea plantation is located in such a beautiful location that, again, it is hard to describe. The area is called “Thousand Island Lake,” but our guide explains that it is actually a river, winding into itself so that people see it as a lake. I’m thinking that to “wind into oneself” is not a bad idea.

Looking at this marvel of nature, one can imagine that each curve and crevice has an ancient history, hidden and yet calling out to be explored.

On the top of this place, a bagua shape of sculpted tea trees, eight-sided for perfect balance, holds me as a catch my breath from beauty exposure. At the nearby shoppe, a woman makes a special tea brew, and sells a variety of tea products, including tea powder for scrubbing skin. I buy some tea soap, that smells like the place I am standing. I don’t want to leave, but the tour is moving forward. 

Sculpted rows of tea trees. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Taiwan Tea
Sculpted rows of tea trees

Tea plantation shoppe. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Taiwan Tea
Tea plantation shoppe 

Bagua of tea - good Feng Shui! From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Taiwan Tea
Bagua of tea - good Feng Shui! 

Our next stop is to a master tea purveyor who has won first place for several years in a tea contest that occurs locally, every six months. He explains to us that there are three types of tea harvested in Taiwan: green tea, which is not fermented at all; oolong tea, which is partially fermented; and black tea, which is 100% fermented. He shows us how to prepare each type of tea, and which vessels to use to rinse the tea, warm the cups, and then serve the tea.

The most important tidbit of information he shares is that tea is best brewed when the hot water is not boiling - about 95 degrees. He also shares that tea should only steep for about 30 seconds.

Who knew?! There are five persons on this tour (I am the only American), and we all have differing opinions about which tea is our favorite. I buy a small bag of black tea, which our guide indicates, “will cure all issues of digestion.” Sounds too good to be true, but it has since been true for me. I am a big believer in the power of intention and suggestion, but I also believe that drinking a beverage that is fermented is the key to many cultures in the digestion of their foods. 

Green tea from a master. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Taiwan Tea
Green tea from a master

Tea service in Taiwan . From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Taiwan Tea
Tea service in Taiwan 

Our final stop is Pingling tea museum in New Taipei City. Yes, a museum dedicated to the art of growing, harvesting, processing, and drinking tea. On display were many pieces of equipment used historically (some ancient) for picking and drying tea leaves. A remarkable special exhibit in the museum depicts this ancient ritual in various countries, from a Tibetan yurt to high tea in Russia.

This was one of the highlights of my entire trip, and I offer you these photos to pay homage to the art of tea. 

Tea manufacturing over the years. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Taiwan Tea
Tea manufacturing over the years 

A formal feeling comes. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Taiwan Tea
A formal feeling comes

Tea alchemy display. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Taiwan Tea
Tea alchemy display 

Nepalese teatime in yurt. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Taiwan Tea
Nepalese teatime in yurt 

Teatime in Iran. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Taiwan Tea
Teatime in Iran 

Teatime in Turkey. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Taiwan Tea
Teatime in Turkey

Russian Teatime. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Taiwan Tea
Russian Teatime

Outside of the Pingling tea museum, I look up to the mountains to see the golden statue of a deity, perhaps a Taoist God of the Sun. He watches over the weather to be sure there is a good harvest, and a large bridge spans over the river, which allows a levy to pour water in falls down to the basin below.

The railing at the top of the bridge has a tea pot ensconced on each pillar, as if to remind us all that to pour tea is a sacred act, and that to engage in teatime is to engage in peace. 

Many pots, many moments. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Taiwan Tea
Many pots, many moments 

A good harvest for all things tea. From Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Taiwan Tea
A good harvest for all things tea 

Join me next time for travels in Japan, where tea is also a most beloved ritual, and cherry blossoms are just beginning to bloom…

 

The Travel to Asia: A new understanding Series

Travel to Asia: A new understanding–Hong Kong

Travel to Asia: A New Understanding–Taipei, Taiwan

Becky Burns, our Soulful Travel Guide, is a retired educator living in Sarasota, Florida. Her travel stories provide an interpretation of her trips around the globe on a soulful level, where she muses about coincidences, connections, and life lessons. You may follow her here at wandering educators, where she posts periodically. 

All photos courtesy and copyright Becky Burns

 

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