East Coast Ride

Now that I’m back in the US, one of the most common questions I hear is, “What do you miss about Taiwan?” While I could probably come up with a list a mile long if I thought about it enough, I think one of the things I haven’t had a chance to do is just take a ‘tea ride’, cruising some side roads through the hills and finding a nice spot to enjoy a cup of tea. The last such ride I had was last spring, when I went for a solo ride out to Taiwan’s east coast.

 

I headed out on the old Taipei County Highway 106, changing over to the 102 and following it out to the coast. It’s a great ride on a smooth, curvy 2-lane road through lush, jungle-covered hills. Just the thing to get me in the mood for an inspired roadside tea party. The highway cuts through Shr Ding township (now Shr Ding District of New Taipei City), which is Bao Jong tea country. When you pass the giant teapot, you know you’re there.

One of my favorite things about Taiwan is the east coast. The mountains rise steeply right out of the water, and the highway hugs the cliffs as it follows the coastline, providing numerous vantage points with sweeping vistas of the Pacific. One of my favorites is a coastal park near the village of Longdong. There are several walking trails that follow the hills, leading up to 2 gazebos overlooking the ocean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While enjoying my tea break, I watched some fishermen angling from the rocks below me ( friend of mine who grew up in this area says they actually swim out to the outcroppings, where they can cast into the deeper waters). Although it was a Saturday, I was there early enough (about 10am) that there wasn’t much traffic out yet, so I had the area all to myself until about noon.

 

 

 

After enjoying my tea, I continued up the coast towards the port of Keelung. To avoid the traffic congestion of the harbor area there, I turned off a few miles south and climbed up through the hills past the mining town of Jiu Fen. This was originally a silver mining area, and the town was founded by nine families, who agreed to share expenses as they developed the area (this is where the name comes from – the literal translation is ‘nine parts’). There is a great tea house in the town, but in the past 10 years the area has become over-developed, with coffee houses and tourist businesses moving in, ruining the tranquil, rustic setting that made this small village famous in the first place. I just gave it a drive by on this trip, only stopping for a view and photo of ‘tea pot mountain’, which is dear to my heart for obvious reasons.

 

 

 

 

 

From there, it was back through the northeast hills into New Taipei City, and home by the middle of the afternoon. It wasn’t a long ride by any means – about 50 miles – but it gave me a chance to get away from the city, enjoy some great scenery, and spend some quiet time alone with the leaf, which is what I really miss the most about ‘the beautiful isle’.

     

 

 

 

 

 

Back at It!

Hey guys! Apologies to my devoted followers for the ‘disappearing act’. Had a lot going on the past year, and blogging kind of took a back seat to other stuff. I’m happy to let y’all know I’m getting back in the saddle, and will begin catching up on all the tea stuff I’ve been collecting. The big news for now is that I’ve moved back to the US, and am working on setting up some tea classes and seminars in the States, while also developing the site here with more teas and tea wares to sell online. Fortunately, I’ve still got some good tea buddies in Taiwan, so we will be able to continue direct sourcing of Taiwan’s great oolongs, blacks, and greens for you. I’ll have more on that soon, as well as a Taiwan Tea Tour that we are organizing for next year in May or early June, in which we will be inviting tea enthusiasts from everywhere to join us in Taiwan to experience the amazing tea culture there first hand.

For today, I’d just like to catch up a bit on what’s been going on. I’m still getting myself settled in and have found quite a bit I need to do, starting with some yard work. We’ve moved back to the house I grew up in, which is very exciting for the teaboy. Over the summer, we’ve had a yard sale, taken out some shrubs in front, and cut down a tree in the back yard. Now that the weather here is turning colder, we’re focusing more on the inside, where I’m planning out my new tea room.

 

Here are a few photos of some of the work we’ve been doing:

 

The front yard:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ready, set, . . .

 

GO !!!

                       

 

The back yard:

 

 

Of course, it wasn’t all just hard work. We also had a yard sale, and naturally the teaboy wanted to help out. Since our iced tea sales last summer weren’t that good, we switched to KoolAid and homemade popsicles this time around. The economy must have been better this year because sales were definitely up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll also be adding some more ‘stuff’ from our summer, as well as catching up on organizing the 5G of photos from the past year of Taiwan activities I need to get on here as well, so expect more  tea-related material in the near future! Promise!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Merry Christmas

We didn’t have a real big Christmas here this year – the Teaboy and I were both a bit sick, and besides, there’s never any snow! Luckily, Santa was pretty good this year. He brought me an iron kettle set so I can start working on my charcoal water boiling here at home. Now I just need some coal in my stocking and I’m all set!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Hey dad – there’s a hole in your bowl”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“That makes a big pot of tea!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll be blogging about my charcoal adventures as I go along, so stay tuned for more, and happy holidays!

Local Scenery

On our trip to make Black Tea with Master Tsai, we took time out for a well-deserved break in Suei Li, a small farming community just south of Sun Moon Lake. Among other things, the town is famous for its ice cream, which we naturally just had to sample!  Read the rest of this entry »

Picking Black Tea

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On the second morning of our Black Tea Workshop, we  went up to some of the Assam tea fields in the Yu Chr area to pick tea.  It’s in a very unassuming area – just a narrow concrete road winding into the hills. There wasn’t even room to turn the car around! Read the rest of this entry »

Gettin’ Our Kicks on Route 66

      

No, not that Route 66! On our trip to make Taiwan Black Tea with Tsai Lao Shr (see Making Black Tea), we stayed at a small bed & breakfast in  Yu Chr Township, near Sun Moon Lake. Since the big earthquake in 1999 (I was here for that!), the area has struggled to recover, but eco-tourism is becoming popular now, so things seem to be improving in the area economically.     

      

Read the rest of this entry »

Making Black Tea

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Master Tsai offered me space in one of his Nantou tea-making workshops, so of course I jumped at the chance. We rode the high-speed train to Taichung, then by car to Yu Chr, a black tea growing area around the north end of Sun Moon Lake.  The first day consisted of actually producing our own hand-rolled organic Assam tea in the local style, a group dinner, and then a late-night tea session at a local bed & breakfast. The second day we picked tea in the mountains, toured the Sun Moon Lake area (including a visit to the Tea Research Center near the lake), then held an informal competition to taste and discuss our tea before heading back to Taipei. This post focuses on the actual processing of our black tea. Read the rest of this entry »

Formosa Garden Tea Room

dsc_0020To those of my loyal readers who’ve been wondering what happened to me the past few months, thanks for your concern. No, I wasn’t on an extended tea-picking trip to Nantou (although reports on that are coming soon), and no, I wasn’t flattened by a city bus running a light on Chung Shan N. road (almost – I was just a bit too quick for him!!). I was, in all honesty, hanging out around the house. We’ve moved into a new place, and I have been converting the main living room and balcony into a tea room, which is now open for business! 

  Read the rest of this entry »

Organic Taiwan Teas Now Available

Teaguy is very happy to let you know he now has his own line of organic teas from Taiwan available through this site. You can check out the Mystic Grove Teas under the ‘Tea’ heading on the left side of the page there.

 

We are also going to carry ChaTei brand teas, and the prices & descriptions for those will be added soon. ChaTei is the flagship line of Master Aliang’s Hsi Tang Tea Company. They are all hand-selected personally by Aliang to meet his high standards, and  include:

 

          Alishan and Shan Lin Hsi Oolongs

          4 Seasons Oolong

          Jade Oolong

          Jin Xuen (Silk or Milk Oolong)

          Wen Shan Baojong

          Oriental Beauty (Dong Fang Mei Ren)

          Mucha Tie Kuan Yin (Aliang’s signature tea)

 

I’m very excited about these new additions to the website, and I’d like to thank all of you who have supported the Teaguy since it’s inception. Your comments and patronage have been a great inspiration to me, and I look forward to expanding and developing this site. I look forward to helping you with your tea needs in the coming year!!!

2009 Zoo Exhibition

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Ran across these photos the other day, and realized I hadn’t posted this up from last June! The Mucha Farmer’s Association sponsored an event to showcase the area’s agricultural goods, so of course Aliang and I were there representing Tie Kuan Yin (Iron Goddess) and Bao Jong teas. Read the rest of this entry »