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.”