Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Colorado College Students enjoy a tea experience in Taipei

This was in Taipei, Taiwan......

Tea Master Jackson Huang was very tied up with a group of students from Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA on 04/28/2010.

Arranged by Professor Yunyu Wang, these 25 students who were in Taiwan attending exchange students study program at the Taipei Univeristy of Arts met up with Tea Master Jackson Huang.

They took MRT from Chien-Tan to Chungshan Station, walked to the office of Taipei City Tea Merchants Association (TCTMA), and had tea lecture that conducted by Master Huang.

After the briefing of Taiwan tea history and the current status of tea consumption in Taiwan...the students cupped taste 5 different teas (Three Oolongs, one Black and one Green tea) produced in Taiwan with Master Huang.

The Chairwoman of TCTMA, Ms. Yvonne Kao, was also at the facility to introduce the organization and activities of her members. Students were extremely fond of the story about Cha-Giao Matsu, Godess of Tea, who would be considered the protector for all tea men. These students were also very interested in learning how to make decision by throwing the two pieces Divination blocks (筊杯).

After leaving TCTMA, Master Huang led the students for a walking tour around the oldest tea district in Taipei - Da-Dou-Cheng. Master Huang gave all tea legends at each historical sites. The students also visited an old tea refinery factory, Jinzi Tea Plant.

The one hour walking tour ended at the last stop, ABC Tea's store, where all the students got a group photo and presented the appreciation card to Master Huang.

The following comments are from the students, very touching and interesting.

I have to tell you it was very cool to meet the Tea Master. I spent all of fifth block studying Japanese art, including tea and the tea master sen no Rikyu. I'm not sure what the status of tea masters is today, but I imagine this man commands a great deal of respect. I was amazed by how friendly and kind he was. He spoke French with me for a few minutes; he speaks five different languages fluently. Thanks for giving us that experience.
Dear Tea Master, I want to personally thank you for donating your time and wisdom to our class. You were beyond generous by sharing with us your stories, showingus around the city, and giving us the massive oolong tea boxes. I'm sure that I still do not understand the full appreciation for what you do, but I have heard from friends who have studied Asian culture that tea masters are some of the most respected positions in the world. In any case, I fully enjoyed listening to you speak about the historical significance of Taiwan in tea culture. Visiting this country has been a very profound experience for me since I was born in Kaoshiung, and have not been back for many years; You have helped me to become even prouder of my heritage by teaching me about something I could not learn anywhere else. Your passion for tea is very admirable and inspiring, and I can only hope that I find something in the future that I too can master so well.
Thanks again for a once in a lifetime experience.
Sincerely, Amy Lin

Coming from an economic background, I thought the tea walk was especially interesting because many of the topics that the tea master discussed areapplicable to my major. Not only is tea particularly important to the Taiwanese culture but also tea is vital to the local economy. The domestic demand for tea is so large that Taiwanese tea companies can survive on the demand for domestic market alone and therefore they are not reliant on importing tea to other countries. In this sense tea seems to stand as asymbol of independence for Taiwan as it is a good doesn’t rely on thedemand from foreign countries. Also, I thought it was interesting that Taiwan is unique because it has the perfect climate for growing three different types of tea: Jasmine, Oolong, and Green tea. Hence, the tea growers can substitute their crops from year to year in order to fit a higher or lower demand of certain types of tea. All in all, the tea walk was very informative and I was able to relate some of what I have learned in my previous classes to understand how important tea is to the Taiwanese economy.
- Hannah Evans

The Drinking of the Tea

I myself have never been much of a tea drinker at all. On occasion, for instance on a old winter evening, I will drink a cup of tea that is often very sweet. The obsession and the passion that some people share for this earthly drink has always been a mystery to me. I have always found myself asking why anyone would ever want to drink something that tastes like leaves. Our trip to the Tea Master, however, not only gave me a better understanding of tea, it also may have changed my mind about the taste.
Walking through the streets of the old tea market really made me wonder what it must have felt like on the day when the first shipment of tea set out for the Americas almost 250 years ago. Coming from an island myself, I understand the power of exports and trade because it was Puerto Rico’s ports and trade that made my country grow the way it did. The most powerful moment of the walking tour for me came when we visited the Wharf. It was very moving to be in a place that held so much importance for Formosa and its history. Tea really made this country great. I became nostalgic for my own home and was able to appreciate what Formosa has done in terms of giving something great to the world.
From giving us information on how tea is made to the preparation of the tea itself, the tea tour was highly insightful. This drink goes back thousands of years, and it wasn’t until a few days ago that I realized the true passion someone can have not only for its taste, but also for its tradition. I realized as we were being lectured that tea isn’t something that you can solely drink. Tea is a way of life. And as we were lectured it came through very clearly that this man lives through tea. Behind his words and smiling eyes, it was easy to see that he was treating us to everything because he wanted to share this part of his life with us. He did it because he wanted to and it means a lot, especially to a foreigner, to be treated with such respect. We all felt very welcome there, and it really opened my eyes about this once mysterious drink.
As a confession, I can honestly say that before the tea tasting there had not been a tea that I genuinely enjoyed drinking. Formosa Oolong tea changed all of that. Its texture and taste made me appreciate the history behind it and then it let me appreciate its flavor. I would have it again any day. Tea Master, thank you for your time and passion.

- Jose Montijo
In college, most people become coffee addicts; I, however, became a tea addict. My friends and I regularly go to coffee shops to study and socialize and because I dislike the taste of coffee I always order tea. From always ordering tea, I learned to love the taste of tea and I make myself a cup (oolong, green, or black) every day before class. This past summer I had an internship and my boss was also a tea lover and we would take a break every day at 3:00 to enjoy a cup of tea. He always bought very nice and expensive teas, giving me my first taste of fancy oolongs and black teas. He also introduced me to some Taiwanese oolongs that he said were his favorite. I told him that I would be going to Taiwan in the spring and he told me of several teas that I absolutely had to try. For the past couple weeks in Taiwan I have been looking for the teas he mentioned and I found several, but I was really looking forward to our tea visit to learn a little more about Taiwanese teas and to try and find the elusive “Oriental Beauty.” The tea trip went above and beyond my expectations. I really enjoyed hearing about the history of Taiwanese tea because along with the tea history I was able to learn more about the history of Taiwan, including different colonial periods and different country influences on Taiwan. The historical field trip was also fascinating and I really enjoyed seeing an old quarter of Taipei. I loved how the tea master was able to paint with his words a beautiful depiction of what the area was like back in the day. From seeing and learning about Taiwan history during this visit, I feel like things I have seen and experienced in Taipei over the past two weeks have now been contextualized. The best part of the tea visit, however, was trying the teas and being able to purchase Oriental Beauty, the tea I had been looking for over the past couple weeks. I bought a package for myself as well as one for my old boss, so I can now return the favor and share some wonderful Taiwanese tea with him!
- Kie Riedel
Thank you very much for teaching us about tea! I have alwayd loved tea but did not know very much about it. I like knowing what it is I am drinking, and now I feel as though I do more. I know now not to drink too much green or black tea without a meal because that will make my stomach hurt, but drinking oolong tea alone is fine. I also know that I have no idea what is in Lipton tea, and I would rather drink tea that I know wkat kind it is. I loved testing all the different teas. Black Tea and Formosan Oolong were my favorites. Thank you so much for teaching us! It was wonderful.
- Hilary Kennedy