When Lorraine and I first arrived in Taiwan, we were so excited, we were filming and photographing everything. We were ready to engulf ourselves in all of what the tea culture had to offer us, and we did.
At first, we had no idea what we would be doing, since our entire itinerary was in Chinese. We spent the majority of the first day traveling from Taipei to Puli; a four hour drive (on paved roads, of course). By the end of the day, we had visited Mr. Chen’s tea company Bih-lu Tea, met our translator Tinja, and Mr. Chen’s wife Kate and baby daughter.
In the late afternoon, we ended up at a Buddhist Monastery on the top of a mountain for the night. We had a full view of one of the world’s largest and tallest monasteries. It was beautiful.
I of course, almost forgot to mention the highlight of that day—the amount of food we consumed with the commissioners of the monastery along with our team. We even had our very own chef. That day, we found out that Taiwanese people love to eat 12-course meals. We were fine with it.
On that note, the next morning was followed by some great soy milk and sweet bread. It was a lovely experience, as we ate and prepared for our hour-long drive to Mr.Chen’s gardens to start our day picking and processing the beginning stages of tea. That morning, we also met our new translator Rebecca, who was there with us the duration of the trip.
A typhoon had damaged the majority of the roads the week before, so it was a wet and semi-dangerous road to travel in. We also had to take a different route since the main bridge to Puli had also collapsed in the damage. It was an interesting experience to say the least.
When we arrived at the gardens in Puli, there were so many women in extremely bright floral printed outfits and similar hats—it was almost as if it was a strategically planned wardrobe coordinated by one of the twenty or so women who surrounded the fields.
It was something I’ve never experienced or seen before, and it made me smile as I entered the tea gardens to join them for the day. I was ready for my own Martha Stewart hat and basket.