Taiwan, also known as Formosa, has the perfect geographical and climatic profile for tea production: year-round high temperatures (rarely below 10oC), more than 2000 mm of annual rainfall, fertile soil, constant humidity and very high mountains (up to 3900 meters above sea level) very often covered with thick fog.
Most plantations are concentrated on the western plains of the island (sheltered from the many typhoons coming from the east) and on the steep slopes of the
The production of Taiwanese teas in the last twenty years.
Production has changed considerably in the last twenty years, with the rise of Gao Shan Cha, or "high mountain tea" (more than 1000 meters above sea level), mostly grown on new plots gained on the slopes of the mountains. These have very quickly become The Trademark of Taiwan, and they are now the most in demand.
The Taiwanese tea industry
The tea industry remains a very traditional sector, primarily based on small farmers (more than 20,000), who generally grow one hectare or less, and carry out the transformation of the leaves into tea themselves. Unlike most of the world's producing regions, production is still very much linked to the terroirs and manufacturing methods of each artisan: each hill, each farm produces a unique tea. The know-how is passed down from generation to generation, and many city dwellers go to the plantations every weekend, to compare the different productions, taste the new harvest or simply taste their favorite teas.
Taiwanese production is relatively unmechanized and very small-scale, while other major producing countries have focused primarily on the creation of large farms and large-scale processing chains, involving many players and mixing the leaves of several farms or even different regions.
Taiwan produces mostly oolong (93%), but also green tea (4%) and black tea (3%).
Taiwanese tea :descriptive by region
The Region of Nan Tou is the region of original production, and still produces more than 50% of the island's teas. Production is mainly volume-oriented and medium-quality teas. However, it produces teas of exceptional quality, including those from Tung Ting and Shan Lin Xi Mountain.
The Taipei region is the second largest and is home to one of the most popular oolongs today: Bao Zhong, a slightly fermented tea with curved leaves. The Taipei region is also famous for the production of high-quality Bi Luo Chun and for its Tie Guan Yin, whose plant was imported from China in the 19th century.
The Tao Yuan region is mainly made up of plains, and produces mostly oolongs, including Oriental Beauty. The most famous mountain in the region is La La Shan, popular for its high-mountain teas.
The Hsin Chu region, which is mainly made up of plains, specializes in the production of highly oxidized oolong, and is particularly famous for its Oriental Beauty.
The Chia Yi region has been producing tea for only about 20 years, and the fields are mainly located on the mountainside. This terroir, from which only 10% of the island's production comes, is famous for its high mountain teas, which are in high demand around the world. Vintages from the Yu Shan and ALi Shan mountains are the most popular in the region.
The Tai Chung region has also been producing tea for a short time: about 20 years. It specializes in the production of high-mountain teas, and is home to the famous Li Shan and Da Yu Lin mountains, where teas are grown up to 2600 meters above sea level, virtually the highest production altitude in the world.