Day 12 Taipei
Hurried out of the airport to the pottery district to do my purchasing. Our friends at Eilong were rather busy today, but this is a remarkable family. 5 brothers and sisters, the parents started the company, and each sibling is adept at a different function. Some design, some market, some operate the business. 2 kilns, 3 warehouses, worldwide distribution. Very, very nice people. I had Mr. Chen, the middle brother, try the Charles Chocolates Tea Chocolates (almost totally melted from the heat), and he swallowed 4 in a row. He was absolutely amazed at how good they were and the fact that he could taste the different teas. I was going to reserve judgement until my friends in Asia try them, you know? They are not into chocolate but are particular about tea. This made me feel quite relieved. Of course he was extra polite since both oolong flavors were made from Taiwan oolongs, and one was Baochong, his native tea.
Rushed over to Wenshan to see Mr. Lee our Baochong farmer. He's nervous. The tea competition is in 3 days and hopefully, he'll win at least silver this year, though one year he won the gold and drank himself to a stupor in celebration. You see the farmers here eat lots of beetlenut but don't drink alot of alcohol. He showed me proudly a bottle of giant bumblebee sorghum wine. Not really for drinking, he says. It's used for the bee stings that occur daily so the wine gives them resistance and builds up tolerance. Baochong is one of the most fragrant teas in the world, but other fragrances graced our walk around the hills: giant bushes of wild gardenias and osmanthus. Of course, the ancestral tomb was also right there on the hillside. It's rather touching that they are all buried with their beloved tea. In Fuding, Tano and I saw tomb after tomb amidst the tea terraces, a very moving sight indeed.
Sitting at the 24 hour bookstore in Taipei. Tomorrow: Taichung.