Wednesday, October 8, 2008

High Mountain Tea Story - 高山茶故事

Once upon a time in the magical island of Taiwan there lived a little tea leaf named Yezi (葉子).

你好. 我是葉子:

Because Yezi was grown at 1600 meters in elevation in the town of Shizhuo, Taiwan, it was his destiny to become "High Mountain Tea!" On a clear cool morning in spring Yezi was "plucked" by an expert tea picker who had come up by bus from Chiayi (嘉義) to pick tea.

After Yezi was picked he and his friends were carried back to Farmer Liu's house to begin their journey. The first thing Liu did was spread them out on a tarp to wither outdoors for several hours.

After Yezi and the other leaves had withered outdoors they were brought inside and put in the basket shaker to tumble. This broke the cells around their edges and started the oxidation process.

Yezi and his friends were then weighed and placed on woven rattan baskets to oxidize for 12 to 16 hours!

The tea makers had to mix the leaves every 30 or so minutes so that the leaves would oxidize evenly.

After the oxidation period the room was beginning to smell very nice. When the leaves were finally deemed ready, Farmer Liu stopped the oxidation by tossing the leaves into the "kill green machine." This machine cooks the leaves for about 6 minutes thus stopping the oxidation. Our brave hero Yezi was feeling hot and dizzy!

After the leaves were cooked they were placed on to this machine in small batches to be mashed up even more by the spinning green arm. This process helped develop the juices in the leaves so that the flavors will come out more easily when the tea is eventually brewed.

At this point Yezi and his friends are looking pretty beat up and limp but their adventure is not over yet! Now they are placed in small canvas bags, rolled up, and placed on this machine to help "shape" them into little twisted balls.

Finally Yezi and his friends are baked in a large electric oven. This cooks out the remaining moisture and finishes the product. They are now called Maocha (毛茶) and ready to be sold and enjoyed, but first they may be subjected to further roasting.

Small production electric tea roaster:

Large production electric tea roaster with conveyor belts:

In the end Yezi and his friends were bagged up by this cute foreign couple and flown to Seattle. Where they lived happily ever after.


Disclaimer - I feel confident that the information above is true and mostly complete, but if you are a real oolong tea expert, and you think that somethings should be added, removed, changed or expanded, please let me know in a comment. Thanks!


Philippe said...


I'm Philippe from the french tea blog "La Galette de Thé". I find your blog very intersting. I just discovered it today !! So I added your site to my english tea-links !!

Good continuation.

T.alain said...

a real pleasure...

Alanna said...

I highly enjoyed this informative and entertaining post! I was rooting for little Yezi all the way....

Tiffany Picard said...

This would be a great children's story book! Yezi & Friends. With each book being about a different kind of tea.