Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Paper Wrapped Tea in Tainan City

A month ago, my friend and former boss Brian Keating sent me this must-read article on Taiwanese tea history. The last paragraph of the article highlights a Tainan (台南)-based tea shop called Cheng-fa* that started way back in 1860. I got really excited when I saw the photos that went along with the article because I recognized the Cheng-fa tea shop as a place I had visited back in 2005.

It was during my first Taiwan tea trek when I was treated to an unforgettable scooter tour of Tainan by my friend Josh Chamberlain. Josh took me to Cheng-fa and explained that it was a very old tea shop and that the owner still packaged his teas in the "old paper-wrapped style."

The owner wrapping tea in paper:

After the tea is measured out, it is carefully wrapped by hand. Then the bundle is labeled using beautiful antique stamps. I purchased several ounces of a delicious traditional roasted Dong Ding (凍頂) oolong and a sublime baked Wenshan Baozhong tea.

This package contained the Dong Ding:

It makes sense to me that before the Taiwanese had vacuum packed foil bags or other modern packaging options, the best teas would be wrapped in paper... but I have also read from multiple sources that Baozhong (包種) (sometimes spelled Pouchong) tea was wrapped in paper as one step in its production. The Wikipedia entry for Pouchong tea also mentions this step but adds that it is no longer used. I wonder if Baozhong, which literally means "wrapped type," may also have some connection to this old school packaging method still used by Cheng-fa tea shop? Do any readers know?

*I don't know the Chinese characters for Cheng-fa tea shop. If you happen to know, please leave them in the comments.


Gingko said...

Wow the tea shop looks so nice! That's what I read too, the name Bao Zhong came from the practice that every 4 liang (about 150g) tea is wrapped in paper. I guess it used to be a common practice for oolong but can hardly be seen nowadays. Once a teachatter kindly sent me some tea from a 90 year old tea shop in Thailand. Its paper wrap is traditional and very cute :D

Gingko said...

Oh I also want to mention that sometimes Bao Zhong is used to describe lighter than old time oxidation Taiwan oolong. For example, some people would say "Dong Ding is a type of Bao Zhong". This use of term Bao Zhong seems very confusing to me.

Anonymous said...

I believe I read yesterday that there will be a baozhong wrapping demonstration at the World Tea Expo this year.

nuwex said...

振发茶林 its the four central characters in the seal.

Anonymous said...

Any chance you have the address or directions to Cheng-fa? i happen to be in Tainan now and stumbled on your post... i would be thrilled to visit the shop! Thanks.

Brett said...

Nihao Anonymous, I do not have the address but my friend who took me to this shop might be able to provide it. I'll ask him and then add that information if/when he replies. Have fun in Taiwan ! ! !

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I think I found the address: No.137, Sec. 1, Minquan Rd., West Central Dist., Tainan. I will check it out today!