Like in the UK
, tea in Taiwan
is not just a warm comforting beverage but it is part of daily life, an artistic ritual, a bit like a good old cuppa of English breakfast tea whilst watching EastEnders! However, needless to say that Taiwanese tea rituals
are a little more meaningful; there are very precise rules to learn which have been practiced for centuries. Tea is drunk with every meal and is very good for general health and digestion. There is no a kettle in sight ? the preparation of tea is a very slow process. There are specific tools to be used at each stage of tea-making. Tea is also drunk in clay cups, which gives a better flavour-the older the recipient, the better the tea tastes, and sometimes the recipients are hundreds of years old. Before the tea is served, it is poured into various recipients in turn, to help the brewing process. Water is drunk between every tea tasted to get the full flavour of each, much like wine-tasting. This ritual dates back to the Ming dynasty during the 16th century.
Taiwanese people drink green tea, without milk or sugar, with lunch or dinner but not in the morning or afternoon. Oolong tea, often known as the champagne of teas in Britain, is the most renowned; it is between black and green tea and is partially fermented (unlike black tea which is 100% fermented and green tea which is not fermented at all). Taiwan is one of the largest producers of tea in the world. If you are interested in the process of traditional Taiwanese tea-making, Wang Tea House in the capital, Taipei is the place to go; set in an old 19th century house, the atmosphere is just right to learn, about ancient Taiwanese tea rituals. You can also visit a tea plantation at 400m of altitude in Taipei
, just a couple of miles from the business district- the Mujhan plantations are among the most sought-after among Taiwanese tourists; these are accessible via cable car 20 minutes away from Tapei zoo tube station, to Maokung station, passing by the Zhinan temple. There are some great walks to embark on across the plantations...you will notice lots of little houses scattered across the land, or perched in a background of lush green trees. The harvest takes place every three months which means four pickings a year, which is a great time to visit, so it's worth doing some research before booking.