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Jodet’s Tea Trip to Taiwan Part I

The tea culture is growing and essentially, so should we. My name is Jodet Ghougassian and I’m the manager at Samovar Tea Lounge, Hayes Valley location. I have been studying tea for about three years. The various flavors and cultures of exploration in the world of tea fascinate me.

Jodet Picking Tealeaves in Taiwan
Jodet Picking Tealeaves in Taiwan

I find that often times, what people don’t know is that tea, much like any other plant, takes great skill and process. How often does one ponder, while sipping their black tea in the morning, “Wow, someone actually hand picked these leaves and spent hours contributing to the final process?” I know I never used to. Until now.

Eventually after understanding how to describe tea and its basic processes, I thought, how amazing would it be if I could actually go out and live on a farm with a tea master who can teach me everything I need to know about the processes of tea? This little dream soon became a goal needing to be accomplished, and that’s where my trip to Taiwan comes in.

On October 12, one of my staff members, Lorraine and I flew to Puli, Taiwan,  a mountainous region three hours outside of Taipei where a large population of tea cultivation takes place. We were staying with a farmer whom I met in May at the World Tea Expo. The farmer, KC Chen and his wife, Katie, welcomed me and Lorraine into their home with open arms.

Lorraine and host Rebecca on the tea bus
Lorraine and host Rebecca on the tea bus

We did not speak the language, nor did we know what to expect. We just shared a common love for tea. We packed our bags and traveled thousands of miles with our Flip camera, and our digitals in hopes of bringing back an experience for our Samovar staff and community. Mr.Chen had arranged for two lovely translators to guide us through the process.

Essentially, the itinerary was to process oolongs and black tea for a whole week from start to finish.  I was so intrigued with the complete tea experience. I feel that that’s not something you can find in a book.  We filmed and processed tea for the week and were able to get some amazing photographs and footage. I hope that the next couple blogs will enrich your knowledge of tea and help bring joy into your life as much as it has to mine.

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