Taiwan Tea Festival
So far, the tours have sparked a lot of interest from international tourists and have generated a warm response from Asian tourists. In particular, tour groups from Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and other parts of Asia will visit Taiwan from Sept. 7-10 to experience the “Taiwan Tea Adventure.” These overseas tourists will transform themselves into tea picking ladies and visit Taiwan’s famous tea farms to experience a different side of Taiwanese scenery and culture.
Since the Tourism Bureau began promoting the “Taiwan Tea Adventure” tours in July in nine target markets, including Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia, nearly 20 tour groups, with altogether more than 400 tourists, have purchased the tour packages.
The “Taiwan Tea Adventure” tours take tourists to tea farms in the northern, central, southern and eastern parts of Taiwan. The tours will focus on introducing tourists to famous Taiwanese teas such as oolong and black teas. Five tea tour routes have been planned to cater specifically to international tourists. On the tours, the tourists will get to experience tea picking, tea making and tea tasting. They will also be able to try the special cuisine and see the unique cultural performances of the local areas where they will be visiting.
Tourists will be able to choose from a selection of one or two-day tours that feature: Yuchi Assam Black Tea in the Sun Moon Lake area, Honey-flavored Black Tea in Ruisui, Hualien, Wenshan Baozhong Tea (also known as Wenshan Pouchong Tea) in Taipei, Alishan High Mountain Tea in Chiayi County, and Oriental Beauty Tea in Hsinchu County. By learning about tea, we hope overseas tourists, especially those who love drinking tea, can further understand the hometowns of Taiwan’s most famous teas.
“Taiwan Tea Adventure” is the first activity created by the Tourism Bureau that features tea as a theme for sightseeing. We hope that through these tours, Taiwan’s beautiful tea scenery and culture will become a tourism product that international travel agencies will sell on a long-term basis. We also hope that the tours will attract many overseas tourists to Taiwan to not only taste its famous teas but learn about its tea culture in a meaningful and fun-filled way.
The 10-day event, held at the Huashan 1914 Creative Park, provides an introduction to many facets of tea drinking in Taiwan, organizers said.
“In western countries, tea is at most a drink,” Lin Ku-fang, the festival’s general advisor, said during the opening ceremony. “But in Asian societies, tea is closely allied with aesthetics and a philosophical way of life.”
The festival can be seen as a welcoming ceremony for the Taipei International Flora Expo, according to Hsieh Hsiao-yun, commissioner of Taipei City’s Department of Cultural Affairs, one of the two sponsors of the activities.
“For Taiwanese locals, it is customary to serve guests a cup of hot tea as a warm welcome,” Hsieh said, adding that she wished to extend an invitation to domestic and international visitors to the Flora Expo to stop by the tea festival.
Called Joyful Life with Tea, the festival incorporates several exhibitions, including an introduction to the history of tea in Chinese culture and other parts of the world, a display of traditional Chinese tea utensils and demonstrations of Japanese and Korean tea ceremonies carried out by tea professionals.
Visitors will be regaled to 30 different types of carefully chosen tea, organizers said, adding that 30 classes hosted by tea experts are also up to demonstrate how to develop a discriminating tea palette and how to brew tea.
Three tea seminars and 16 plays on the subject of tea are included as well, they noted.
The festival is co-sponsored by the Taiwan Cultural-Creative Development Foundation.
Taiwan Tea Master
“I am the resident master for the Longtan Farmers' Association and Taoyuan County Government,” Chuang said, adding that she also owns the Famous Tea Daily tea shop in Longtan Township.
According to Chuang, after her father received his master's license back in 1983, she decided to follow suit, wining Taiwan’s national tea tasting championships along the way.
“I grew up among the scent of tea leaves and my knowledge of the product and thorough grasp of brewing techniques were learned at father's knee,” she said. “This base of knowledge, along with my own hard work, has given me a sense of mission regarding the promotion of tea.”
While still in middle school, Chuang began helping her father brew tea for customers. She learned to recognize various varieties of tea, studied proper brewing times for each, and even delved into the differences in materials used to make teapots and containers.
In 2006, she entered the Taiwan Tea Competition, held simultaneously in four far-flung areas of the island. Chuang made it through the preliminaries, then to the finals, and continued on as the contest extended through the year to the next spring.
“The judges ended up choosing me as national champion based on the colors of my teas and technique,” Chuang said.
The victory inspired Chuang to dedicate her life to promoting tea, and she often receives invitations to appear at universities to share her knowledge. While a student at the University of Sydney in Australia, she never stopped spreading the word, and today her host family is an avowed consumer of Taiwan's finest teas.