MAN CHA TEAS

Purveyor of Premium Chinese Tea and education provider to children in need.

Beipu and my liason with Taiwan’s Oriental Beauty

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Next on the agenda was to taste Oriental Beauty Tea and visit Beipu. Beipu is northwest of Taipei and takes about an hour and half on the train and then forty minutes by bus. Luckily Scott was with me and even if I wanted to get lost there was no chance of it 🙂

Beipu Shop

Scott stayed in Beipu for a while so he was very familiar with it and knew many of the locals. We visited the tea shop first and was greeted by the future of oriental Beauty, the owner’s son!

Beipu son

I was shown the actual tea Scott helped to make in 2011. It stands proudly on the shelf and I am not certain money could even buy the tea or the memories.

OB tin

The land on which the tea shop and restaurant sits, takes up one small quarter of the largest residence in Beipu. I am not certain, so correct me if I am wrong, but as far as I know the landowners who now reside elsewhere lent this land to the shop owner on the terms that he would refurbish and take care of it.

Beipu Men

In fact the shop owner did more than that. With some backing from the town council he has made Beipu into a popular tourist destination bringing in a lot of commerce and has elevated Beipu as a centre of Oriental Beauty production. In my eyes he is a hero of the region, but modestly he tells us it is what any one born in Beipu would have done.

Beipu shop 2

The shop owner has also renovated a guest house in which he let us stay at. Scott says he doesn’t let anybody stay there. So I was honoured to be giving the opportunity, otherwise I would have been stumped as there were no other obvious places to stay. People usually visit Beipu just for the day and leave after dinner.

At night I made my first acquaintance with this prestigious Oriental Beauty. Wow! In my eyes Mrs. Man is my only “Oriental Beauty,” but I now understand why other people have named this tea Oriental Beauty.

OB

It smelt flowery with the depth of black tea. The leaves were brittle and long unlike the rolled dong dings and Wulongs we had been drinking. The taste was sweet, honey like and had layers of depth. My vocabulary for tea tastes needs to improve but my words cannot justify the impression it made.

The production of this tea is very special too. It gets it honey taste from the Jaccids biting the tea leaf. The plant defends itself by secreting a specific hormone. The sweet hormone is then released by the oxidation during production. Generally Jaccids come during summer and only the bitten leaves are picked, so harvest is limited. The tea is totally free of pesticides otherwise the insects would not bite the leaves.

To end, another Oriental Beauty has further enriched my passion for tea.


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Tea in the Walled City

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This is the entrance to the Kowloon Walled City. I have heard and read briefly about this place. I heard that during the 1950’s it was neither governed by the Chinese nor the British and so became a lawless haven for triads, brothels and opium dens. Armed with only a bottle of water, I was ready for action.

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Thankfully since the 1990’s much has changed, so there was no need to defend myself with spraying my assailants with tepid water. Infact with huge government backing, residents were re-housed and a serene garden modelled on the Jiangnan gardens of the early Qing Dynasty was built.

Actually, the real reason I came to the park was to sample some of the tea served in the park. For the next 2 months there will be 4 tea stations situated around the park every saturday. All the tea served is either funded by tea enthusiasts or tea shops and the water supplied by the district council. I was told that sometimes very old and exceptional tea was donated. Anyone is allowed to sit on one of the stools and sample as much tea as they want…free of charge!

What a great example of tea giving back to the community. Excellent!

IMG_20130523_172921Here a lady is making some red tea. It was the 4-5th brew and so the best flavour had already been extracted. Still it was interesting to see her brewing technique and chat to some Australian tourists.

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Next it was some green tea, Longjing or Dragon’s Well. Again we arrived too late and all the flavour of this delicate tea had been drunk already. Shame but again its so nice to witness respect amongst strangers. Everytime anyone new who came to the pagoda people shifted around or offered their seat. Its just lovely to see people enjoying and sharing their tea experience courteously.

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Next it was Taiwanese Wu-long (Oolong) tea. This was the best tasting so far, but I might be biased as its one of my favourites. I love the hint of grass and velvety taste. Plus the smell is amazingly divine.

The way this lady made the tea was so elegant and fluid. Not one drop was spilt and the steeping was timed to perfection. I have much to learn in the elegance of making tea.

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Finally it was the Puer tea station supervised by secondary students. I feel that I’m a student to tea appreciation but these are real students who are learning to appreciate tea. They were so polite and respectful. Great to see and imagine how refined their judgement of the will be by the time they get to my ripe age! Its encouraging to see tea and education merging positively.

All in all a fantastic tea day, a real eye opener and its great to be able to appreciate tea in such serene settings. A must visit for any tea enthusiast.

Mr.Man