I must admit that I am not a big fan of tea. I am much more a coffee drinker. But I drank more tea in less than a year than I lived here than during my 18 years in my country. The reason is the important place occupied by the tea in the Taiwanese culture. There are thousands of shops just in Taichung. Pearl milk tea is a must for a stranger visiting here. But I had the opportunity to taste the true flavors of Oolong and Black teas from Taiwan.
Since my first week here, I participate in many free tours or activities offered by the international office of my university. And one thing they all had in common is that they always concerned tea. In the short time I lived here, I prepared my own tea (rolling, drying leaves and the like), I had to drink more than twelve cups of tea in a row to see if I could tell the difference between them and I took part in many kinds of tea ceremony and this part was what really impressed me.
Gongfu Tea Ceremony
Tea is at the heart of Taiwanese culture. Taiwanese tea is known and appreciated all over the world. Oolong Teas like Alishan or Lishan are very common. But Black tea and Green tea are also widely consumed. Traditional tea ceremonies obeyed rules dating back centuries. It is a pleasure in itself to watch all the rituals, how they unfold in the deepest calm and silence. This is the Gongfu Tea Ceremony, originating in China. It includes both the preparation and the presentation of the tea. Hot water is used (and no sugar to my biggest disappointment). The temperature is a very important factor and the master of ceremonies will choose the optimal temperature for each type of tea. Mixing with the tea leaves is done in several stages, using different utensils. The tea is then served in small cups and yet, to drink it there are certain principles. You must sometimes enjoy the smell in a perfume cup before using your own cup to drink.
Make your choice
Much attention is paid to tea production, mainly in the high mountains, to produce the best tea. The tea we drink daily in our bubble milk tea or in any flavored iced tea is mainly imported. “Real” Taiwanese tea can be very expensive and available in many varieties such as Oriental Beauty Tea, grown in the northern part of Taiwan and which is said to have received its name from Queen Elizabeth II, Alishan High Mountain Tea, considered the best Taiwanese tea, Dayuling Tea or Pouchong Tea. It means that you have a lot of options. If you ever come to Taiwan, you will have to take some time to immerse yourself in the Taiwanese culture and enjoy the beauty of Taiwanese tea ceremony.