From The Archives | "Ugly" Tea

The story goes that a tea farmer in Taiwan whose crop was devastated by little leaf hoppers sold his ‘ugly’ tea anyway, and at surprising reception. His villagers refused to believe that he’s made a fortune so unconventionally, and abused it as Pong Fong Cha, the bullshit tea. Later, the Queen of England gave it an alternate name of Taiwan Beauty.

The farmers I visited today, the Yangs, were quite honest. The crop made in early June was very very limited and was submitted to the competition. Through some error the entire crop was rejected and sent back. They would rather sell me the more abundant September crop, but, they admitted, there were no leaf hoppers in Sept. And they worry if any of it would sell, for those bugs are the secret to the fabulous taste of Taiwan Beauty. I was highly sympathetic, but bought that limited summer crop anyway, competition error or not. One’s palate beats one’s heart and sense of sympathy!

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