So I managed to meet the farmer who makes this incredibly aromatic black tea, no 18, just with name of the village, a farmer's name and a telephone number on a business card!!
I had this business card from a farmer who was at the tea tasting session that the Taitung tea research institute’s staff set up on the first day I went on August 21, the first day in Taiwan. Since then, I tasted quite a bit of Taiwanese teas, and was able to narrow down to what I like to pursue, and one of the tea was just happen to be this particular farmer’s strength. So, I set my GPS just to arrive at the village where this farmer is hoping to be able to locate a sign. I was circling around the village center 3-4 times, and was just about to give up on it when I asked just a woman passing by on the street showed the farmer’s business card and asked if she knows where it is. She said no, but she asked why don’t I call. When she heard my Chinese more, naturally...... nodded, but, instead of just walking away before getting into trouble of helping the stranger who does not speak her language well, she offered to call the farmer herself and find out where they located. I could not believe this kindness. And what’s more is that, she took note of the address and direction, she offered to ask her husband who was in the neighborhood about to meet her, to come and guide me to the place. I just could not believe this happened.
Tea that I was looking for is called “Hong Yu Hong Cha”, red jade black tea. It has rich layer of aroma and flavor, and strong overtone of cinnamon or anise, with beautiful amber color brew. This rich and beautiful tea with plentiful of natural sweetness had to be nurtured by something extraordinary like this unsuspecting kindness like this. The farmer’s wife was there making tea. The place was her office, store space and tea atelier. She invited me in and fed me and gave me teas to taste. And, she drove me to her orchard to show me her tea plants. All her teas are lined with date trees. These date trees are everywhere. Instead of cutting them down completely to cultivate whatever the farmers are growing, they cut down little by little. Young tea plants are planted just besides these date trees. I asked why, and she told me the date tree give young tea plants a natural shelter from the strong sun and wind. What a fantastic way of coexisting!!! When we arrived at her orchard with tea No18, I got out of the car, and could not believe that entire air around the area was filled with Jasmine like aroma. She told me it’s from the tea plants. (Actually, I think now it's mostly from the f date palm flowers... read these yellow flowers releases jasmine like sweet smell in the evening, so was around 3pm, beginning to give off the sweet scent into the air..) When wind shakes the tea leaves releases such aroma. I looked around and around to see if there are flowers in sight that I missed. There were no flowering plants, just tea plants and date trees. I wished there was a devise to record the moment with the scent in the air. I was ready to purchase small amount to take back, but, the farmer refused to take any money from me, they treated me completely as a guest came from afar looking to see their son. It was their son I saw at the institute, doing research in tea. This village is so rich in air, soil, and natural vegetation. Her garden was filled with fruit trees, beautiful flowers, and of course tea plants that she loves so much. She filled my water bottle with her No 18 tea brew for the road. Another incredible and joyful encounter with tea enthusiast.