Bob, myself and our tea colleague Mike Spillane of G.S. Haley Co. had the pleasure of attending an all-day meeting of the Tawian Tea Manufacturers Association as invited guests. The meeting was held in the Tea Research and Extension Station in Taoyuan, which works in conjunction with the Taiwan Council of Agriculture.
The research station is devoted to studying all aspects of tea cultivation and the production of tea. The Director, Mr. Lin, gave us a briefing on the important work conducted here, which includes studies in the areas of improved nursery systems for tea cuttings; breeding and propagation of superior tea cultivars; ecological approaches to organic tea management; studies on pests and disease control; and the training and education of tea farmers.
As American tea professionals each of us had been asked to speak on a topic related to tea in America. We gave our views on the nature of Taiwan tea and also offered feedback regarding the difficulty in obtaining a steady supply of good quality Taiwan teas in the USA. Taiwan is in the unique position of producing a very high percentage of quality tea, and of being able to purchase more of it’s own tea than most people are in other tea producing countries. Hence, only a small quantity of tea is left available for export, and it is proportionately costly.
In the week prior to this meeting, I began to notice that many of the dishes that we were served in restaurants in the tea producing areas incorporated tea leaves in the preparation of these dishes. So, for my part, I decided to speak to the members on how we cook with tea in the USA. I explained the types of dishes we use tea in ( soups, meat, seafood and vegetable dishes, desserts and cocktails ) and the manner in which we use it ( sauces, soups and simmering broths, marinades, braised dishes, frozen desserts and cakes, etc. )
I could tell from the looks on the faces of the men and women looking back at me that some of them understood my examples while others seemed unsure of what some of these ingredients and dishes were in the examples that I gave.
But I think in general that they appreciated the interest in tea that this trend speaks to, and understood that cooking with tea is another way to generate additional buzz in the USA regarding the delicious nature of tea.
Attendance was recorded at just over 130 persons, and everyone seemed to enjoy the daylong exchange of ideas. I was pleased to see a high percentage of women in the membership. The three of us enthusiastically praised Taiwan teas and pledged to promote awareness of Taiwan tea back home.
Today, like all of our days in Taiwan, added another dimension of tea information and understanding to our ongoing tea education.