Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Comparing Taiwan's Tea Culture to China's

I am still wired up by the Lao Ban Zhang raw pu from this afternoon. Well I had some Dan Cong after the orchid auction as well. They both had to share the blame. :)

An article by Choudoufu at http://www.squidoo.com/TaiwanTea/ caught my attention. The difference between China and Taiwan tea culture. I don't know how to post my comments on that site, so I write it up on mine.

When speaking of Taiwan tea culture, the main stream is Kung Fu tea using tea sets made specifically for this purpose, and the most suitable tea are ooglong, pu-erh, dan cong to name a few. Due to Taiwan's geographic size, there are limited varietals grown on the island.

China on the other hand is a very large country geographically, each region/climate produces its own specialty, suitable to drink with kung fu tea ware or not. Kung fu tea originate in Fu Jian, also popular in Chao Zhou, yunnan, mainly the southern provinces. For reasons that the type of tea produced in the region can be complimented by such method and tea ware. Other regions such as Zhe Jiang, Si Chuan produce Lung Jing and other green tea, which doesn't last infusions after infusions, a cup brewing method is sufficient enough. Shang Hai is a Lung Jing drinking city, that's why mostly brewed in a cup both for visitors and at home. I was growing up drinking Hong Cha (red/black tea) brewed in a large teapot, then poured into cups. Yum Cha with dim sum is a typical Cantonese - Guang Dong province style of tea drinking. Interestingly enough, many Cantonese categorizes loose cooked pu-erh as black tea due to its color.

I don't think we are comparing apples to apples here.

The development of the tea culture are different between the shores of strait, dictated by political economical influence mostly. War fare since late Ching had slowed down the development in China as a whole. Particularly during Cultural Revolution in mainland China, all forms of art was banished. While trees were still growing and producing, techniques and quality were regressing, only to meet the basic demand of consumers, no more different than salt or rice, it's a necessity. Taiwan had a new crowd of tea drinkers since the independence of the communist party. The relatively calm political environment and international business establishments in Taiwan provided the means to create demands for high quality tea and tea wares. One progressed and the other regressed for a good 30 40 years. Looking back in Chinese tea history, tea culture flourished during Tang, Song, Ming and Ching, dynasties where economically and politically stable. Other times during Chun Chiu, San Guo, Liao, Jin, tea culture development were hauled to a stop mostly. Any forms of art requires financing and demand to flourish, just like the Romans. In the last 20 years, China is catching up although not yet revived in every corner. Bidding for 700g (entire crop) of Da Hong Pao from a 800 years old mother tree was 168k RMB years ago. Tea houses are spung up like bamboo shoots after a spring shower in major cities across China nowadays. With modern transportations, it's much easier to mix and blend regional specialties than ever, even though locals might still prefer their regional tea.

Tea drinking is a simple pleasure in life, however it is not simple behind the scene. I am thankful for the availability during my life time to pursuit the finer art of such simple pleasure. Drink up every one!

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