A few weeks back we had some friends over for dinner. My lovely wife, Chia-Ling (Sunshine), put together a fantastic dinner with so many traditional Taiwanese dishes our bellies were bursting by the time the 4th dish was served. We sat around most of the evening eating, sipping on our drinks, talking, laughing and so on. A perfect night, no doubt!
After dinner came to an end I prepared an after dinner assortment of teas and desserts. With the kettle heating up and the leaves splayed across the table for everyone to enjoy, I posed a question to our friends who were over that night.
"What makes Taiwan tea so special and different from so many of the other types of tea on the market?"
Answers came from all directions and with ample consideration and discussion given to each one: Knowledge and experience of the farmers. Climate. Soil. Air. Rain. Ours is better than theirs! Taste. Smell.
And so on. And so on.
Then I weighed in on the subject with a point that was missed by everyone in attendance.
"The fact that the tea drinker can steep, re steep and steep yet again makes Taiwan tea very unique," I shouted with glee. A few heads nodded up and down, and a couple others grinned with pleasure.
I'm certainly not going to say that all Taiwan tea not only trumps but puts to shame all other teas. Certainly not. I've enjoyed many different types of tea - herbal, blends, you name it - from around the world. Some of these beverages are exquisite in taste, aroma and appearance. I even have a few in my own personal collection.
Nevertheless, the degree to which you can steep and re steep a tea is very important to me and should be to the customer, too. Most high-quality teas can be steeped at the very minimum 3 times; some teas even more. Of course, there are some important considerations when it comes to how many times one can use the same tea leaves:
1. Length of time one steeps their tea leaves.
2. Quantity of leaves used.
3. Temperature one steeps their leaves.
4. Quality and type of tea (This being the standard benchmark.)
So, the next time you walk the aisles of your local market in search of the best tea at the best price, consider not only the price you are paying for your tea but the quality, taste and the number of times that you can steep this very special drink.
If you would like to learn more about tea, the best ways to steep or just have a question you'd like answered, feel free to comment on this Blog or write Ashley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week!
When I look back on the many years I called Taiwan "my home" I can't help but think about so many incredible experiences. Some great, some good, some so-so and others, well, decent. (Let me tell you, those 'decent' times were usually found at the end of a fun-filled road trip when work was only hours away or after a long fought battle on the baseball field only to see our team lose by 1-run!)
At the moment I call Toronto, Canada home. A wonderful city. A wonderful country. However, it's very far removed from the life I once lived on the island formerly called Formosa.
In 2004 I set out on an adventure that I had never considered playing out even as a child with all the fascination and wonder that a globe or map could bring a young and healthy mind. So it was, on a warm and breezy evening, I boarded China Airlines in pursuit of a tiny 'dot' on the map.
Growing up in a country like Canada can influence your perception of the rest of the world. Canada, with its vast land, infinite (or so it seems) natural resources and wide streets, gives birth to the idea that the rest of the world "must be the same." However, I was a 'veteran' of the movie circuit and knew better than to think that the world is only different in the way Macintosh is different from Granny Smith is different from Red Delicious.
Let me tell you that I was shocked with what I found, 16 hours and 2 flights later...
It didn't take long for me to discover this incredible island and all of it's many valuable assets. From beachfront views of the ocean to mountain-scapes that go on for miles and miles. From big city lights and sounds to busy restaurants filled with sensational dishes and an atmosphere of chaos and excitement, Taiwan really does have it all. But what really sets Taiwan apart from a handful of other countries that I've visited is the generosity and friendships of the very people that make up the communities, neighbourhoods, cities and the island as a whole. Because of this very generosity I speak of, I discovered my love and passion for a leaf that brings this nation together as a whole.
The Tea Leaf!
Tea, for it's beauty, it's taste and aroma, it's simple qualities and it's ability to bring people from all walks of life together, has brought together the Taiwanese for so many generations. This simplest of drinks captures the hearts and collective conscience of a society that is constantly evolving, modernizing, shedding the traditions of the past for the fads of the future. Still, it exists as a whole - even if the young up and comers like to splash a little sugar or mix their tea with a piece of dried fruit! No matter how one takes their tea, the leaf and what it represents will always speak of the way Taiwan is as a family and as a society.
I challenged myself to board a plane for new lands and I returned to my 'homeland' with so many incredible memories, long lasting friendships and a wonderful family. I will never forget, however, the one passion that will always round out my day and that is the tea leaf and so much that it represents.
Thank you Taiwan. Thank you friends and family. Thank you tea!
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”