To optimize my time in Taipei and to get as much tea influence as I can, I decided to go to Pinglin to the Tea Museum. I did some vague research the night before and plotted my route. Through my research there seemed to be two ways. I decided on the most direct and simplest from my location. After my initial mishap on the first day, anything was possible.
So all I had to do was go to Xindian station by the efficient MRT and then catch a bus there. Simple enough! When I got there, there was the option of 2 buses that could take me there. Yikes, which one do I take? The dilemma was solved by the tourist info lady and she politely told me that the next bus was in 20 minutes.
Jumping on the bus I had no idea how long it would take. The bus bumped and wind its way through the mountain. Around 30 minutes later I arrived.
Still not sure where to go I followed my un-directional nose. It led me to a statue, so I went nearer. With closer inspection I discovered she was a tea picker and the blue railing had individual teapots at each intersection.
If I were to design railings I would definitely use this same teapot effect. Every teapot was different!
Even the streetlights were in the shape of teapots! I love these surprising details in Taiwan. Always a pleasure to discover.
My eyes strayed across the river and there the tea museum was! Many hundreds of people must have gone through the same process of jumping off the bus, seeing the statue and teapots and then finding the tea museum. I felt the tea gods were smiling on me and although well trodden I felt enchanted with my discovery!
The tea museum itself was impressive. The first floor showed the different types of tea in Taiwan and how it was produced. Then downstairs the museum talked more of the history of tea. It took a good hour and half to see it all before I got to the gardens.
Here was where I arrived at the disappointment. Not so much with the garden itself but the neglect. In its heyday the place must have been heaving with people. I could imagine lots of families wandering around. With parents sitting at tables under the trees keeping an eye out as kids run around the many paths. Now the grass and vegetation is a little overgrown, the statues withered and a little sad. I get unhappy when I sense a place in decline and not up kept well.
It made me think about whether this represented the stature of tea and culture as a whole in Taiwan and in the world. Was tea the once trendy thing for everyone to do and now like the museum the young don’t have time or care for. Do they mostly prefer an express cup of coffee with the press of a button, over a soothing cup of tea.
Time to change that! It’s my duty to bring tea back!