Floating Leaves Tea Home ---Shiuwen's Blog!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Taiwan Tea and High Mountain Oolong

After the typhoon in Taiwan, there has been some news about closing some high mountain tea farms so they won't cause more damages in the mountains. I heard about this many years ago. I recently called some tea friends to see if they are doing alright and to ask about the news. They also said they have heard about these closures many years ago.

There were some tea farms "behind the Alishan region, and one in the YuShan region" that have been shut down. It was very dangerous to go up there. They said the government has isn't likely to shut down an existing tea farm. However, it will be difficult to develop new tea regions.

My tea contacts heard some rumors that are quite disturbing. They heard that some wealthy businessmen from China were talking about buying up the whole Lishan region! I have also heard about Starbucks wanting to buy a lot of tea from Taiwan. For the selfish part of me, I hope none of the deals will go through.

The beauty of some Taiwanese tea is that many of tea farms are owned by individual farmers and Taiwanese Oolongs are quite labor intensive. Having been in the tea business for several years, one of my great joys is to go the tea growing areas and talk to farmers, to see their hard work, to see their proud faces, and to exchange that smile when we all agree on a good tea.

Taiwanese tea compared to the rest of the world's tea is not cheap. So once again let's pray that those big business deals will not go through. Let some of the tea art remain alive!


Maitre_Tea said...

Guang from Hou De mentioned this Starbucks rumor briefly on a recent entry on his store's blog...and I think that this is related to the balance between promoting a product/culture while trying to be a profitable business, a balance that I think you have been able to achieve. Kudos on the great work you've done!

Eric G. said...

I also have herd about Starbucks. Do you think they will ruin the tea by over-storing it or blending it? Do you think they might pay the farmers a bit more? This would be good for the farmer's way of life but perhaps not for their pride. Do you think China will boost production and lower the quality of the processing? And I hardly think that it's selfish of you to worry about this.

Shiuwen said...


Thank you!

I guess the news has been spreading. I just don't know why they will want to pick Taiwan. Sigb...

MPG said...

I'm with you! I don't want those big guys to buy out the oolong tea farms. It would be so nice to go meet these farmers whose tea you bring so far. We enjoy it every moment. Thank you!

Shiuwen said...

Hi Eric,

I have to keep my faith. I want to believe there are tea farmers who will make good oolong, not just the massive produced tea.
And I will always do my best to search for good oolong from Taiwan!

Shiuwen said...

Hi Mango Power Girl,

Thank you for the comment. I hope it is just a rumor and Lishan tea will be still Lishan tea.

Perhaps someday you can go to Taiwan with me to visit some of tea farmers. It's really fun!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I wouldn't want Starbucks to get any land in Taiwan though I'm not worried about the Chinese moving in there. They'd still have a chance to do tea right. But the Starbucks McTea is an ugly prospect. --Teaternity

Xenia H said...

"So once again let's pray that those big business deals will not go through. Let some of the tea art remain alive! "
Amen to that. Starbucks kills any beverage it touches. How can taste buds corrupted by harshly overroasted coffee appreciate the subtle beauty of a high mountain oolong?

Maitre_Tea said...

You may or may not already know this, but here's an article about speculation and Taiwanese teas:

Shiuwen said...

To Maitre_Tea,

Thank you for the link.
It's quite scary news.