Taiwan Tea Culture 1 Day Tour - $140

Tour Overview
If you’re lucky enough to have visited Taiwan, then wherever you go, it stays with you, for all of Taiwan is a moveable feast. Be astounded at the variety of dishes and snacks at Old Street. Appreciate the world’s most popular drink in one of the world’s supreme tea-growing regions. Enjoy the beautifully lush landscapes of the Bagua tea plantations and the fertile backdrop of Qiandao Lake located in the upper reaches of the Jade Reservoir. And be swept away in a gondola through the mountains of Maokong.

Highlights Include:

  • Overlook the lush green landscape of Bagua Tea Plantation and Thousand Island Lake.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of authentic Taiwanese tea
  • Visit a tea farm and have the chance to pick tea leaves (if in season).
  • Enjoy a scenic ride over the mountains on the Maokong Gondola.
  • Participate in a traditional Taiwanese tea ceremony with a tea expert
  • Enjoy a cup of Taiwanese tea in the cozy atmosphere of an old tea house and learn how to steep the perfect pot of tea

 

Tour Schedule:

  • 09:30 Pick up from your accommodation
  • 10:00 Maokong Gondola
  • 10:30 Explore the background of Taiwanese Tea
  • 11:50 Lunch time
  • 13:30 Thousand Island Lake
  • 14:30 Take a walk through the tea fields
  • 15:30 Tea taste and learn tea ceremony in the tea house
  • 17:30 Drop off at your accommodation

 



ABOUT TAIWAN TEA CULTURE 
 

Video of The Tea Culture of Taiwan

 

Introduction

Do you love to drink tea?
Have you heard of Oolong tea?
If you love drinking tea and know tea
Then you should know about Taiwanese tea culture
For it has become an integral part of global tea culture
And its aroma is quietly spreading all over the world….

 

A History of Tea in Taiwan


Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (TAIWAN). Photography by Jenn-tai Hao (郝振泰), Kun-ru Chuang (莊坤儒).

 

Qing dynasty (1796-1895)

Two wild, indigenous tea subspecies, Taiwan Mountain Tea and Red Sprout Mountain Tea, were discovered in Taiwan as early as the 17th century. However, they had little economic value and were not widely used due to their bitter taste and thin, brittle leaves.

During the Qing dynasty, different tea varieties were imported from the Fujian area and cultivated in northern Taiwan. During his 1865 visit to observe Taiwan’s camphor industry, British merchant John Dodd discovered the Taiwanese tea market. The tea he exported to New York became a surprise hit, making Taiwanese tea famous internationally and attracting other exporters to Taiwan. Thus began the prosperity of Taiwan’s tea industry and its role as a major industry in northern Taiwan.
 

Japanese Colonial Period (1895-1945)

During their occupation of Taiwan, the Japanese expanded Taiwanese tea farms and encouraged the cultivation of local varieties including the four main varieties: Qingxin Oolong (green-hearted oolong), Qingxin Damo, Daye Oolong (big-leaf oolong), Ying Zhi Hongxin (“hard-stemmed red-hearted”). In addition, a tea research institute was established to advance the cultivation and production of black tea.
In 1926, the Japanese introduced the Assam variety to Taiwan and experimented with its cultivation in Yuchih Township, Nantou County. The successful results gave birth to the now renowned specialty tea of Sun Moon Lake.
 

Retrocession to the Present (After 1945)

In the 1980s, the tea-drinking population and tea consumption rose sharply in Taiwan as its economy advanced. Coupled with the active promotion of tea culture, consumers began to place more emphasis on the art of tea and became selective about its quality. Consequently, the tea industry in Taiwan shifted its focus from export to internal consumption.
 

In recent years, bottled tea drinks and “bubble tea” shops have gained wide popularity, new tea products have been brought in from other countries, and convenient tea bags and related products are booming due to market demand. The Taiwanese tea culture is become more and more specialized and refined.

 

Varieties of Tea

Wenshan Pouchong Tea

Wenshan Pouchong Tea

String-shaped, dark green leaves, honey-colored cup, full-bodied with a clean finish, elegant floral aroma; described as “a maiden ready to come into full bloom”.
 

 

Tie Guanyin (Also known as Oriental Beauty tea, Penghong tea or “bragger’s tea”)

Tie Guanyin (Also known as Oriental Beauty tea, Penghong tea or “bragger’s tea”)

Dark brownish-green leaves curled into beads, amber liquor, full-bodied with delicate astringency, aroma of fully fired leaves; requires longer time and specialized panfrying techniques in leaf-processing.
 

 

Bi Luo Chun

Bi Luo Chun

Attributes: Emerald green leaves, greenish-honey-colored liquor, natural and fresh taste with fruity aroma. A premium early spring tea made with buds and rich with catechins; known for the use of young shoots and bright color, aroma and taste.
 

 

Bai Hao Oolong  Tea

Bai Hao Oolong Tea

Stem-attached, rainbow-colored (white, green, yellow, red and brown) leaves, reddish-orange liquor, full-bodied and smooth taste, aroma of honey and ripe fruits
 

 

Dong Ding Oolong Tea

Dong Ding Oolong Tea

Dark green leaves tightly wrapped into a semi-spherical shape, shiny golden-colored liquor, full-bodied, smooth and brisk taste, potent and long-lingering after taste, throat-soothing, intense aroma. More heavily fermented than Wenshan Pouchong; requ
 

 

Black Tea

Black Tea

Shiny reddish brown leaves in a string shape or broken sticks, scarlet cup, brisk and full-bodied taste, sweet caramel aroma.
 

 

High Mountain (Gaoshan) Tea

High Mountain (Gaoshan) Tea

Bright emerald green leaves, greenish-honey-colored liquor, full-bodied and vigorous taste, delicate and elegant aroma. Alishan produces the most acclaimed highly mountain tea.
 

 

Tea Processing

In the Taiwanese dialect, tea leaves are referred to as “tea rice” because of the rice-sized, semi-spherical or spherical shapes of fermented tea leaves. The processing of tea requires a complex, intricate procedure to produce the perfect cup of tea in color, aroma and taste. The following are the ten steps of tea processing:

Step 1【Picking】

 

第一步驟 【採茶】 Photo:Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (TAIWAN).

Tea-leaves nowadays are picked either manually or with machines. Hand picking, however, has always been the exclusive way to harvest premium leaves. In the past, tea farmers would harvest the leaves by clamping the stem using the index finger and thumb and breaking the leaves off with a quick flick; today, many farmers have adopted the time- and labor-saving method of attaching a blade to the index finger for snipping the stem.

Tea-leaves are harvested mainly as buds and young leaves. Depending on the variety, there is the choice of harvesting “one bud one leaf”, “one bud two leaves” and “one bud three leaves”. The intactness of the leaf surface is critical to the quality of the final product, so close attention must be paid to not damage the leaves when harvesting.

Step 2 【Wilting】

 

第二步驟 【萎凋】 Photo:Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (TAIWAN).

Picked leaves are placed in bamboo baskets and “sun-wilted” or wilted in a hot air blowing machine to remove the moisture in the leaves and oxidize (ferment) them. The leaves turn progressively darker as they wilt under the sun and soften from moisture loss.

When the baskets are relocated indoors for “indoor-wilting”, the leaves are gently stirred to rub against each other and bruise their edges-in order to fill their cells with air and facilitate fermentation. This stirring action is called “waving the leaves” and can now be performed using a machine.

 

Step 3 【Fermenting】

Fermenting is the oxidation process that takes place when the cells of tea leaves lose part of their moisture content and come into contact with the air. If the moisture loss during wilting is too rapid, the cells will die without sufficient time to ferment—this is called “dehydration” and produces tasteless tea. On the other hand, once moisture has dissipated from the leaf edges, excessive force in stirring will prematurely turn the edges red, preventing the leaf cells from releasing moisture to complete the fermentation process—the resulting tea leaves are “bloated” and give a bitter, “puckery” taste.
In addition, the intactness of the tea leaves is also key. Any scar or bending or breakage of the leaf will affect the ideal fermenting conditions and result in inferior taste.

Step 4【Panning】

 

第四步驟 【殺菁(炒菁)】Photo:Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (TAIWAN).Photography by Ko-li Lin(林格立)

 

To stop fermenting, tea leaves must be pan fried or steamed to destroy the enzymes responsible for the fermentation—this is called “killing” or “steaming” the leaves. This step eliminates the leaves’ grassy odor to form an aroma. The stems and veins of the leaves become flexible and slightly viscous as moisture dissipates from the leaves, leaving them less susceptible to breaking in the next step.

 

Step 5【Kneading】

 

第五步驟 【揉捻】Photo:Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (TAIWAN). Photography by Ko-li Lin(林格立)

To expedite steeping, fired leaves are moved into the roller,where they slowly curl up and tighten as they roll around. The sap released from the rolling action adheres to the leaves and during steeping, quickly dissolves into the hot water to produce a fragrant cup of tea.
Different tea varieties require different levels of kneading. For example, semi-spherical Pouchong tea acquires its shape from an additional kneading step-they are wrapped in cloth to form a ball and then kneaded and pressed manually or with a machine. Throughout the process, the cloths must be periodically unrolled and the leaves spread out to release heat; the more frequently this is repeated, the more tightly wrapped the end product.
 

Step 6【Drying】

To completely stop fermentation and reduce volume for easy storage, kneaded leaves are machine dried, using high temperature to destroy any remaining enzymes and decreasing the moisture content of the leaves to less than 5%. Kneaded leaves are laid out flat on trays, which are and loaded one by one into the dryer. To ensure thorough drying, the leaves are usually dried twice: 70-80% of drying is done during round one, after which leaves are removed from the machine to cool, and then dried for a second time. Dried leaves are called “rough tea” or “base tea”.

 

Step 7【Refining】

Refining is an integral step in tea processing. In this step “rough” tea-leaves are classified to ensure consistency of appearance, a major factor in a consumer’s purchasing decision, and great care is taken not to affect the taste of the tea in the process.
Refining begins with classification based on the size of the leaves; oversized leaves are cut into desired sizes. Impurities such as stems are removed, and the shapes of the leaves are refined using a reshaping machine. Finally, loose tea powder formed during processing is blown out; producing tea leaves with consisitently high quality.

 

Step 8【Roasting】

 

第八步驟 【焙火】Photo:Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (TAIWAN). Photography by Ko-li Lin(林格立)

Refined leaves are slowly roasted to release their natural fragrance. Depending on the leaf variety, light roasting (raw tea), medium roasting (raw-ripe tea) and heavy roasting (ripe tea) are used.
“Raw tea” gives off a rich fragrance and produces a lighter-colored liquor; “Ripe tea” may not compare to raw tea in fragrance but offers a unique taste.

 

Step 9【Scenting】

The ever-popular jasmine tea is a good example of oriental flower-scented tea, though not every tea goes through this step. Commonly used flowers such as jasmine, osmanthus and chrysanthemum are picked in full bloom, and tea-leaves are infused with their floral fragrance. The scenting process can be repeated two or-three times or more to increase the effect.

 

Step 10【Packaging】

 

第十步驟 【包裝】Photo:Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (TAIWAN). Photography by Ko-li Lin(林格立)

Roasting and scenting completes the processing of the tea. Finished tea leaves are usually stored in large cans at tea shops, ready for customers’ to select. One final step remains after a customer has selected his or her desired tea—packaging. There are many packaging methods, most commonly using a plastic bag, either sealed with an elastic band or twist tie or vacuum-sealed. Vacuum-sealed tea keeps longer, but if the tea is to be used right away the packaging method is not particularly important.

 

Tips for Tea Tasting

Do you want to have a cup of fresh tea? Brewing is the key. The type of tea, the amount of tea leaves, the temperature, and the duration of infusion all affect the flavor of the tea. Here are some details on tea brewing:

 

The three elements of tea brewing

First, the amount of tea leaves: It is suggested that the amount of leaves should equal one fourth of the capacity of your teapot. Too many leaves might mean the leaves have insufficient room to unfold in the pot. The appearance and tightness of leaves also affect the flavor of the tea. If the leaves are loose and elongated, you may put more leaves in. On the other hand, if they are tight and closely clumped, use less tea.

Second, temperature: Not all teas are suitable for boiling water. For example, the water temperature for unfermented green tea should be below 80°C. Leaves with sharp buds or shredded leaves should use water between 80 to 90°C. Tight leaves, such as the leaves of black tea, are suitable for hot water above 90°C.

Third, time: The brewing time determines the flavor of the tea. If you prefer strong tea, the time of brewing should be longer. If you want to smell the aroma of tea, you should shorten your brewing time.



How to make a cup of good tea:
 

  • Warm the teapot-Pouring hot water over the teapot is the first thing to remember. Increasing the temperature inside the teapot not only removes any odors inside but also releases the aroma of the tea leaves. The fragrance may stay in the tea without being affected by water temperature. Additionally, after warming the teapot, the water in the teapot can be used to warm up the tea cups.

  • Insert tea leaves-Take a small amount of leaves and put them inside the teapot. While transferring the leaves, you may tell your guests about the quality of your leaves, asking them to observe the fragrance, appearance, and color of the leaves. *Some teas with tighter leaves should be warmed with a small amount of hot water first. The water should be poured out immediately, to allow the leaves to unfold. This way, the tea will taste better and more even. However, this approach is not suitable for all kinds of tea.

  • Brewing with hot water-Pour hot water into the teapot and wait for one minute. If you prefer strong tea, you may prolong the time. However, not all kinds of tea are suitable for boiling water.

  • Presenting the tea and smelling the fragrance-Pour the tea into the scent cup, to about two-thirds full, and then pour it from the scent cup into the tea cups. Then, you may smell the remaining fragrance of tea from the scent cup.

  • Tasting tea-Taste your fresh and fragrant tea. It is suggested to drink the tea in three different stages. From hot tea to warm tea and cold tea, you may taste completely different flavors at the three different temperatures.

 

How to store tea:

Tea leaves in an unsealed container are easily affected by environmental factors such as light, temperature, humidity, the water content of the leaves, microorganisms, and foreign bodies. All of these factors may affect the flavor and fragrance of leaves, so how tea is stored after the packaging has been opened is an issue of critical importance.

Recommended preservation methods are: Putting leaves into a sealed iron or aluminum can, placing leaves inside plastic bags, squeezing the air out and then storing them in a dark place, or storing the leaves at a low temperature.

 


To Book or Enquire

Please call us now on +612 9267 1308.
Toll Free:
1300 TAIPEI (1300 824 734)

Alternatively, you can enquire with us by clicking the button below.

 

 

Price guide

Adult: AU$140
Child: AU$TBA
   
Product Code: T1D4
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
Duration: 8-10 hours
Departure:

 

Everyday

except Monday & public holidays

Pick-Up Time: 8:30AM~9:00AM  
Pick-Up  &
Drop-Off:
Hotels Lobby in
Taipei City only

 

 

INCLUSIONS:
♦ English tour guide
♦ Tickets for the Gondola
♦ Transporations
♦ Admission Fees
♦ Tour Insurance
♦ Tea Tasting

EXCLUSIONS:
♦ Personal Expenses
♦ Meals
♦ Tips to Guide / Driver