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From The Archives | Who Cares About Tea?
Each year, as we concerned ourselves about the fact that artisan teas are rapidly disappearing, we are overlooking the fact that tea in America is comprised mostly of commodity teas. Who really cares about real artisan made teas hailing from century old traditions? Who really cares if harvesting the Baochong leaves one by one means that the leaf texture and size and shape will fit a certain criteria to make it competition worthy? Most teas in the world are machine cut, and then cut again to make BOP, fannings, etc to fit into teabags. Most people don’t even know where Taiwan is probably, let alone caring if this little island nation produces some of the richest, most complex, and astounding oolongs in the world. And that’s a tall order, as oolongs are the master’s tea. So here we are again, at Wenshan, looking at our Baochong crop. Baochong, that fragrant tea that makes one understand why this island was named ‘Formosa’, lives amidst giant osmanthus trees, large gardenia flowers, and wafting ginger flowers that make both osmanthus and gardenia smell like distilled water in comparison. We joined the tea pickers this morning in plucking the soft stems sets of one mature leaf, one young leaf, and some baby buds. Not much changes here in Hobbitton as they say, for Taiwan seems to live in a time capsule. Not much really changes here however the world turns. The people here care, they care about their land, their tea, and they even care about you. One old gentlemen came up to me when I was in a street market, and as I braced for some kind of confrontation, he told me kindly that if I needed a trash receptacle, it is over in that corner. I was holding some plastic bags and remnants of Taiwan street food and looked like I was uncomfortably not willing to litter. I reminded myself I was no longer in China, this was Taiwan.
- October 29, 2011