Definition of Artisanal Tea
Before beginning, let’s me start with a definition of “artisanal tea”. It is a terminology excessively used by today’s tea industry. Every tea merchant can call their stokcs artisanal (or connoisseur’s tea, or collector’s tea) in order to sell at higher price. By common definition, artisanal tea is made by a experienced tea master, and is usually made by hand , therefore rare and limited in availability. Such I all agree with. However, from my point of view, the most important requirement of a artisanal tea is that it should impress you, not that you are impressed by the skyrocket price or by the fame of award wining, but only by its internal qualities, aroma/ flavor/ complexity..ect. Therefore, my definition of a true artisanal tea is that you would say ” how come I never have a tea like this before” after the first sip from your cup.
Why Artisanal Tea Stays in Local
In my visits to the small/ independent tea farmers in Taiwan, I was often impressed by the tea they served and said ” how come I never have a tea like this before”. What impressed me is the unique aroma and flavor which I could seldom have tasted from local vendors/ local tea shops. It is a true artisanal tea to me. But it comes the next question. Why are these teas so good and yet not sold in a conventional market?
Later, I figured out why. Taiwan Tea, unlike other places of the world, is mainly grown and manufactured by small/ independent tea farmers. Each tea, even with the same variety, has an unique aroma/ flavor reflected to its terrior and the technique of tea maker. You may have one wonderful cup of Oolong in a tea estate, and just in another tea estate next door, the cup of Oolong could be terrible . It is like an adventure. You will never know what to expect next. But, the problem is how many time and effort are you willing to spend? Most big tea merchants do not have time tasting door by door. It is not economically efficient running a big business like this. They prefer quick and efficient which is usually buying bulk volumes with common quality. It is what it takes to maximize their profit. That’s why the most featured, rare, outstanding artisanal tea is not sold to conventional channels and is often available with its original producer. Tea connoisseurs in Taiwan are aware of it, so that they usually buy directly from the original source/ tea farmers.
A Loss-Loss Situation
However, only demand from tea connoisseurs in Taiwan is not enough to support a sustainable tea business. Many tea farmers, who make excellent tea, consider to retire because they are too old for the heavy work required in tea field, and their children who are not willing to take over the tea business since they think the benefit/ effort ratio is too low.
In the long run, this could be a loss-loss situation to everyone in the tea industry. For tea farmers, it is simply not sustainable without enough economic support from buyers. For tea lovers, it is certainly a loss if an amazing tea is no longer available. But, how do tea enthusiasts support if they do not even know these artisanal teas exist in the first place? Not to mention the opportunity to taste and to buy them.
To Launch a Tea Club
In order to fullfill this gap, I am planing to launch a Tea Club with a goal to offer featured Taiwan Teas which would be extremely difficult for international tea enthusiasts to obtain. These teas will be based those which brought back from my tea trips and think worthy of recommendation.
If you a lover of Taiwan Tea, or wanna know more about Taiwan Tea, we hereby invite you to join our adventure and explore more.