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Don't Miss a Cup of Black Tea or Coffee and Experience the Spirits of Shokunin

Written by senior editor, Xue-yao KUO, and foodie blogger, Ann CHANG<br/><br/>The blessed central Taiwan has basin and hill landscape with the mild and moist climate that is good to grow tea trees; the black tea produced here, Darjeeling India and that from Sri Lanka are neck to neck. After the 921 earthquake in Y1999, the black tea quality is pushed further due to the revitalization of the industry. The stricken area was damaged severely by plenty of landslides so local people decided to cut down betel nut trees that were not ideal for soil and water conservation and instead grew coffee that is widely accepted. Now there are both traditional tea culture and coffee drinking fashion and each gives full play to its strong point on this land. And they also become people’s leisure options.

Tasting Black Tea Sticking to the Taste

Since the Japanese occupation era, Yuchih township in Nantou county is the main place of production of Taiwanese black tea. The climate and geological environment here are similar to Assam in India, so the Var. assamica of Assam Black Tea is grown and becomes one of Taiwan’s main exportation products. It was even top ranked in the London auctions. After Taiwan’s restoration from Japan, Yuchih Substation, Tea Research and Extension Station chose varieties to cultivate and in 1973 “TTES No.8” (TTES is short for Taiwan Tea Experiment Station) , a kind with improved stronger flavor and good for making milk tea was introduced; in 1999, the hybrid of the Burma black tea and Taiwan common camellia was chosen to grow and named “TTES No.18”, the well known Ruby Black Tea.

Don't Miss a Cup of Black Tea or Coffee and Experience the Spirits of Shokunin

Dayan Village in Yuchih Township is near “Dayan Leisure Farm” with advantageous mountains and water, an ideal geological environment to grow tea trees. We visited the class leader of the 6th Black Tea production and marketing class, Jin-long YEH who runs “Forest Black Tea”. In recent years, the ruby black tea has received positive feedbacks so there are plenty of tea farms in Yuchih and Sun Moon Lake areas. There used to be a long period of time in the past that farmers grew betel nut trees for higher economic values and few stuck with tea, Mr. Yeh is one of the few farmers who stayed and protected the tea farms.

Don't Miss a Cup of Black Tea or Coffee and Experience the Spirits of Shokunin

In Y2002, with the cooperation of Mr. Yeh and his wife, Yuchih Substation, Tea Research and Extension Station, National Yunlin University of Science and Technology and Se-Shui Reconstruction Station, the 6th black tea production and marketing class of Yuchih Township was founded and set the principles of “High Quality, Generic Brand Building, No Pesticides or Chemical Fertilizers, and One Tip Two Leaves Picked Manually”. “Forest Black Tea” is the generic brand from the production and marketing class and plants mainly TTES No.8 and No. 18.

Don't Miss a Cup of Black Tea or Coffee and Experience the Spirits of Shokunin

Mrs. Yeh especially prepared TTES No.18, the Ruby Black Tea to treat us. The tea has a ruby color and carries aromas of cinnamon and peppermint. The most important is the tea is grown organically; there is no concern of pesticide residue. Besides, black tea is completely fermented tea that brings least burden to the body and therefore drinking the black tea can be a good option as a lifetime habit.

Don't Miss a Cup of Black Tea or Coffee and Experience the Spirits of Shokunin

The manually picked “one tip two leaves” tea has to be placed still till the water content is less before the tea leaves are rolled and the leaf cell structures are damaged in order to curl the leaves to release the aroma, and then waiting for the tea fermentation and complete dryness. Finally cutting it into blocks for package. Depending on the temperature and moisture, the tea making time varies from 16 hours to a whole day.

Don't Miss a Cup of Black Tea or Coffee and Experience the Spirits of Shokunin

“Forest Black Tea ” also tries to grow coffee plants and the indigenous common camellia in Sun Moon Lake area; however, the quantity is fewer that only a limited amount can be supplied. Seeing the purple red camellia tea leaves, we really admire Mr. and Mrs. Yeh’s spirit of not giving up, daring to try and overcoming the obstacles.

Don't Miss a Cup of Black Tea or Coffee and Experience the Spirits of Shokunin

Please visit Dayan village in Yuchih township when you are Nantou county. Before touring the black tea farm, the modest Mr. and Mrs. Yeh will treat you with their best black tea with the greeting: take a sip!

Enjoy Coffee and Enjoy Hospitality

Tea serving is a Chinese traditional culture. As drinking coffee becomes a fashion, Taichung started to hold “coffee serving” activity on every 1ST October, the International Coffee Day. Gratitude is conveyed through “Bean grinding, Extraction and Devotion & Serving ”, the activity also makes the public have a deeper understanding on coffee. <br/><br/>When you come to Dongshi in Taichung, it may be hard to imagine there is a place, just 10 –some-minute drive away from the hustle bustle Fengyuan city, having a coffee farm with a size around 1 hectare and 1,000 trees; the annual harvest of coffee beans can reach hundreds of kilograms. “Doufeng Farm” located in Dongshi not only grows coffee plants, but also offers the coffee farm for leisure, ecological observation, fruit picking, adoption, experiences, guided tour and teaching so the visitors can have a taste of good coffee and know what coffee is like before it is served. Besides, in response to the accommodation needs, Doufeng Farm also has B&B for people who would like to learn coffee further. It is really a good place for a 2-day-one-night trip.

Don't Miss a Cup of Black Tea or Coffee and Experience the Spirits of Shokunin

As hospitable as other farmers, for visitors coming to Doufeng Farm as guests, the host will brew the best homemade coffee to serve. There is no extra refurbishment or sophisticated equipment that strongly contrasts the farmer’s sincerity and ease.

Don't Miss a Cup of Black Tea or Coffee and Experience the Spirits of Shokunin

Doufeng Farm plants coffee Arabica, indigenous to Central and South America, introduced to Gukeng, Yunlin county. Mr. Zhang, the owner of the farm, brought the seedlings back to grow in Dongshi. He becomes the one and only organic coffee farmer who got the MOD certification of organic products in the transitional period because his growing process is all natural and no pesticide residue found. Mr. Zhang said, partial shade is the most emphasized when it comes to growing coffee, full sun should be avoided. In addition, the moisture and temperature are important as well. In general, coffee is grown in mountain area. If it is grown in the flat ground, various details shall be adjusted with great care so to have quality not yields to that in the mountains.

Don't Miss a Cup of Black Tea or Coffee and Experience the Spirits of Shokunin

When the coffee cherry turn red from green, it is about time to harvest. But it is not the redder, the better; the appearance should be intact with even and saturated color. Ordinary people can tell the bean quality by water washing, as the good beans will sink and the bad ones float.

Don't Miss a Cup of Black Tea or Coffee and Experience the Spirits of Shokunin

In order to make visitors understand the production process from cultivation to roasting, Mr. Zhang always tours the group visitors in person and explains every stage- flowering, fruit bearing, harvest, skin separation, fermentation, sun drying, husk removal and roasting- each seemingly simple step is far from simple.

Don't Miss a Cup of Black Tea or Coffee and Experience the Spirits of Shokunin

Doufeng Farm sells coffee of its own production, from planting, harvesting, grinding to brewing, all attended by the owner. The smooth mouth feel is not astringent at all, even without sugar and milk, just tasting the black coffee is a great enjoyment. The strong flavor of the coffee lingers in the mouth with a long aftertaste. Besides, the caffeine is not high in content that there is no concern over heart palpitation or stomach upset even having a few more cups of coffee.

Don't Miss a Cup of Black Tea or Coffee and Experience the Spirits of Shokunin

Doufeng Farm’s generic coffee brand “Dongshi Corner” is actually “Dongshi” in Hakka language. Mr. Zhang names his private brand after the region because he would like the public to know that asides from the picturesque scenery in Dongshi, Taichung, there is also high quality coffee with strong aroma and flavor grown here. Of course, if you come visit, the cordial Zhangs will serve their own coffee with the greeting, “Welcome and have a cup of coffee!”

Dayan Forest Black Tea(大雁森林紅茶)

ADD: No. 20-1, Lane Xianzhajiao, Dayan Village, Yuchih Township, Nantou County<br/>TEL: (049)2898228<br/>Website: http://www.forestblacktea.tw/ec99/shop1396/default.asp <br/>

Dayan Leisure Farm Area(大雁休閒農業區)

ADD: No. 36-1, Lane Dayan, Dayan Village, Yuchih Township, Nantou County<br/>TEL: 049-2895938<br/>Website: http://www.gont.com.tw/da-yan-xiu-xian-nong-ye-qu <br/>

Doufeng Farm(豆豐農家)

ADD: No. 27-1, Lane Shihshan, Street ShihCheng, Dongshi District, Taichung City<br/>TEL: 0910-495474, 0972-059096<br/>Website: http://doufeng.okgo.tw/ <br/>

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