What a great day today was! I got a chance to get on a motorcycle and cruise through the mountains far from the city - and the noise - and the crowds - and the pace. Free as a bird throttling around curves up and down hills bathing in the cadence of the cicadas whose thunderous presence is a one-way ticket back to nature.
My main task today was to meet with Farmer Wen in Xinzhu. After a full morning of tropical-style down pour, the sky cleared a bit and I made for it. In time, the sun came out and the sky softened to a pale blue. I’ve wanted to meet Farmer Wen for a while now. An old friend found him for us and we’ve been selling his Matcha Powdered Green Tea for about a year now.
After some trial and error (his farm is not on google maps) and after asking the locals at the omnipresent Betel nut stands and the local 7-11’s, I finally found it and rolled into his processing steel pole-barn slash shop front.
A watchful dog took notice and I didn’t know if it was friendly or not. Somebody called out from within the building and the dog immediately softened, wagging its tail measuring me up as a possible friend.
Farmer Wen appeared with a smile and I immediately liked him. After a brief introduction, I straight away noticed how clean and orderly everything was. This is a man after my own heart – a minimalist with an eye for design. He invited me to his tea table which was typical of many of the farmers and even many of my friends in Taiwan who have country homes: a giant driftwood slab expertly carved to serve as a tea compliment.
Over tea he took me through the process he uses. First the leaves are picked only at certain times of the year. Then they are roasted in giant Chinese-style woks to get rid of the moisture and stop the oxidization. Finally, he uses a machine that rubs the tea into the fine powder that has become his specialty – Matcha Powdered Green Tea.
Farmer Wen is exactly the farmer we are looking for at Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co. His father started the business and is now in his 80’s. They own the land and have planted the trees themselves. Farmer Wen grew up on the tea farm and knows his stuff inside and out. He’s really doing it right. First of all, his farm is in a very good area. We look for tea gardens that are far from cities and factories. The air is clean and his gardens are surrounded by nature. Secondly, he grows organically without the use of pesticides at all. He was very passionate about the responsibility of tea farmers to provide healthy teas for their customers. He drinks his tea every day himself and genuinely believes in the healthful benefits of his tea.
What’s the difference between his tea and strictly-termed Japanese Matcha? “Japanese Matcha is usually steamed while ours is roasted”, he explained. “Japanese tea is great but you must consider the vulnerability of the tea leaf to its environment and more recently, radiation in Japan. Tea should be a very healthy addition to your lifestyle. I feel we are achieving that”.
I was very impressed with Farmer Wen and I think I have a new life-long friend. His tea can be taken cold or hot or warm, it doesn’t matter. But… but… BUT… be careful NOT to use too much tea powder or to use boiling water – Cooler is better. This tea is delicate and deserves some leeway.
Another way to enjoy his tea is in a teabag. He has a production technique that grinds his tea into a VERY fine powder. He showed me the advantage by pulling out a fresh bottle of water from the fridge. He put a bag of fine tea powder into the bottle, shaking it for about 10 seconds and the water turned a nice green hue. That fast. Add a little honey to it or, if you wish, a little lemon and BOOM, you have a simple and healthy daily drinker for the Summer. If you would like to purchase this tea (it’s not expensive), email me and we’ll make it happen for you. I’m hooked.
I'm really sorry, I can't figure out why this picture is coming up sideways!
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