A bit of Tea history of Taiwan

Taiwan pictures digital archives – photo courtesy of

The Dutch East India Company, also known as the VOC (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie), after being driven out by Chinese Ming forces near PengHu they arrived in Taiwan in 1623. Quick to recognize profitable sources they protected their trading interests and used the island as a base for trade with Japan and China. However they were later on expelled from Taiwan in 1662 which brought Taiwan back under control of Qing dynasty, now different tea varieties were imported from Fujian to be cultivated in northern Taiwan during the Qing dynasty (1796-1895). The VOC earliest mention of wild tea found growing  in the central mountain region of Taiwan was in 1645 (two wild, indigenous tea subspecies, Taiwan Mountain Tea and Red Sprout Mountain Tea).

China had severe restrictions on trade and Britain ignited the Opium War for tea in 1839 as a result China was forced to open five ports to foreign trade of which two were in Taiwan, Kaoshiung and DanShui. The Dutch built two forts; Zeelandia in Tainan and Antonio (part of the Fort San Domingo complex earlier built by the Spanish 1628). Fort Antonio is locally referred as “hongmao” Red Hair Fort 🙂 or Red Tower, due to the Opium War the British took over and made it their trade consulate. The former British consular residence is a popular tourist attraction since it is located at the DanShui (TamSui) river, during the weekends many locals are found to stroll around the waterfront, old street up to Fisherman’s Wharf relaxing and enjoying sea breeze to cool down.

Map of Formosa by Dutch, photo source


With the open port and trade consulate in DanShui, the Scottish merchant John Dodd arrived shortly during his visit to buy camphor he realized that the land in the region had superb qualities for tea exploitation. Most people have forgotten or not even realize that Taiwan during Qing dynasty was worlds major producer of Camphor. Camphor is used to make celluloid and one of the components to make film, as such you could say contributing to Hollywood’s success early hay days. John Dodd saw the potential of Taiwan Tea and provided loans to farmers to increase tea production. In 1867 he started tea company in WanHua, Taipei City together with Fujian-born Lee importing seedlings from Xiamen and bringing in skilled workers from FuZhou. Selling Taiwanese Oolong Tea as “Formosa Oolong Tea”, aware of British plans to develop a tea industry in India, Dodd’s successfully exported tea in 1869 to England and New York. Without a doubt Dobb and Lee were the front runners of successfully penetrating the global tea-market and sky-rocketing Taiwan’s tea industry together with the economic policy as a basis for the beginnings of Taiwan’s modern international trade legacy set up earlier by the Dutch VOC beginning with the port system facilitated at the time.

We moved to Taiwan in 2000 and in 2001 Taiwan Tourism bureau  launched a new campaign with the slogan “Taiwan Touch Your Heart”, the logo colours basically represented indigenous tribes people with the following text:


The “T” represents the sheltering eaves of Taiwan in a symbol of the island as a warm home. The “a” represents the host of this home, ardently welcoming travellers to Taiwan. The “I” is the traveller who has come to visit and is being received by the host. The “w” is the two people, host and visitor, shaking hands and greeting each other happily.The second “a” and the “n” represent the two sitting together, drinking tea and chatting casually. In the upper right corner of the logo is an image of the island that expresses Taiwan’s earnest and sincere desire to “Touch your Heart.”

We travelled on to our next destination, but our sojourn was absolutely amazing. The campaign was a beautiful and a well thought enterprise to market Taiwan it really embodied what we experienced. We can full heartedly confirm that visiting this ‘beautiful island’ is absolutely worth the discovery to plan as your next holiday destination.


Osmanthus Oolong tea, Teacup trails stories

Gui Hua Cha - 桂花烏龍茶

Gui Hua Cha – 桂花烏龍茶

I’m without a doubt a coffee junkie as well as a tea addict, with preferences for original tea leaves than ordinary teabags. Freshly brewed teas, steep straight into an original porcelain teacup or earthenware mug with a strainer or a glass mug.  The featured photo shows the large orange canister “GuiHua Wulong Cha” 桂花烏龍茶 or Osmanthus Oolong Tea produced by Ten Ren Tea, Taiwan. Read my very first introduction to the Osmanthus flower tree story here.

Just the combination of thinking about my favourite teas, tea shops with special tea’s I so much enjoyed, it brings forth even more stories and anecdotes. Discovering ‘My Teacup” trails, we’ll share a pot with tea leaves information and savour each sip. A world of tea I had no idea before there is so much more to tea than you might have thought. In distinction to Wine and Whisky sommeliers, Coffee connoisseurs; baristas, Tea sommeliers experts are on the rise. Sharing knowledge on Tea gastronomy promoting and marketing worlds finest eclectic Teas, it’s hip and trendy as ever.

Osmanthus Tea is composed of the high-quality Taiwanese Oolong tea scented with fresh Osmanthus flowers. Osmanthus is an evergreen shrub with attractive foliage and clusters of small, very fragrant flowers. These flowers are also used in some of the world’s most famous and expensive fragrances. This type of tea is categorised as scented tea’s, made by mixing various flowers and petals with green or oolong teas and among these is worldwide known Jasmine tea.

Osmanthus Oolong tea, Ten Ren Tea

Osmanthus Oolong tea, Gui Hua Cha, 桂花烏龍茶

Description names:  GuiHua Wulong Tea or  Osmanthus Oolong Tea

Origin:  Taiwan, (is a large producer of Oolong Tea with high-quality grades and distinctions)

Tea type & features: Oolong mixed scented tea, rolled tea leaves when steeped some tiny little white/yellowish petals may appear.

Brewing: 2-3 grammes of tea leaves for every 150ml of water

Preparation: Place the tea leaves in the scalded pot or cup. The amount is a matter of taste; say, 3 grammes per cup. Add some cold water before adding a small amount of boiling water. This is to keep the temperature below 80 Celsius; green teas should never be subjected to boiling temperature. Leave to steep for 5 minutes. The first decoction may be either discarded or drunk according to preference. This preparation is according to Chinese medicine practice another oolong tea preparation with more elaborate information click here.

Taste: One single sip produces a fullness of rich and mellowness, with a lingering sweetness and a clean aftertaste together with the osmanthus scent lingering on.

Osmanthus Oolong tea, rolled leaves

Rolled leaves

Oolong tea is a semi-fermented tea which is known for its rich taste and pleasant lasting aftertaste. Oolongs are further classified as Dark or Green with Dark Oolongs baked longer than Green Oolongs. Green Oolongs (which are not related to Green teas in any way) tend to have a stronger fragrance while Dark Oolongs tend to have a stronger aftertaste. Special Baked Oolong is the only Oolong that is an intermediate Dark-Green Oolong. Ten Ren Tea”

On another note:

The brewing method used for Wulong tea throughout China and Taiwan is the Art of Gongfucha 工夫茶, where plenty of leaves are skillfully brewed to perfection in a very small teapot and the fragrant concoction is sipped from fine porcelain tiny teacups. Gongfucha is often referred to as ChaoSan Gongfucha as the original place where making “tea with effort” was an integral part of daily life. Gongfucha is also written as 功夫茶 referring to the skill, for linguistics semantics do matter but for tea aficionados and critics, the taste, fragrance and serenity enjoying a hot brew weighs more than words.

Gui Hua tree

Gui Hua tree

It is believed that in Fujian province, Chaoshan area the local Chaozhou (Teochew) people started this tradition of tea culture. Early settlers who moved to Taiwan have brought the custom along with them, where the tea ceremony has evolved in a masterful art performance as also influenced by Japanese culture (Japan first invasion was in 1874 and ruled as a colony from 1895 till 1945).  Click on the following link to read more about: “A bit of Tea History of Taiwan”.

Dried Gui Hua flowers

dried Gui Hua flowers

In the past I had to bring dried Gui Hua flowers with me on my travels, nowadays these very fragrant dried flowers are available at the larger Chinese supermarkets. Enjoy your GuiHua Wulong or Osmanthus Oolong tea and please share your palate experience and favourite brand with us.