Lienji Tea House is a beautiful place. “They pay a lot of attention to the presentation” told me a local. And, yes, the lace looks welcoming, traditional and full of knowledge. But, there was nobody to explain me about their awarded teas. In 2 days I stayed in the guest house I only saw a person who asked me for the passport and then disappeared. The room did not have key, and for 2 days nobody showed up in the house. So, I had to move to another place for tea tasting.
The Luye Visitor Centre has a tea shop attached. There I found Jack, a guy doing an alternative military service, who offered to translate the explanations about local teas. The lady in the shop show me their best teas. Unluckily they cannot show me the plantations since it has been already plucked and now they are roasting some varieties. She seems ready to show all her stuff, and start with a nice smooth Fulu Oolong Tea. The oolong can be found everywhere in Taiwan, only that here has this particular name. So, if I want something very local I should go for the Fulu Red Oolong tea. That is a fully fermented oolong whose brew has a reddish honey like colour. The flavour is quite strong compared to the previous Fulu, and has some floral notes. Miss Fu keeps the water only 40 seconds on each brew and tells me it is important not to make it too long, since the fully fermented can become bitter easily. These leaves can provide 7-8 times tea.
Last, but not least, she shows me the Golden Tea (Jin Xuan). It can be found in other plantations around Taiwan, but they got a silver award and are proud of this last season product. Golden tea is half-fermented and has a milk after taste. It becomes immediately my favourite, and keep chatting with them about here and there, Spain and India, Taiwan and other daily life stuff for more than expected. They bring lunch and we stay together a bit more. And suddenly, I pay attention to a different box. The woman says “This is Kucha, have you ever tried?”. The famous Kucha, the bitterest of the teas. She prepares a bit for me, insisting that the bitterness can be controlled and that will cool down the body. And it is true, her brew is not that bitter (and has almost no colour), but the flavour still is not really nice with some resemblance to liquorice.
The next day I go to pick up some teas I decided to buy and they bring Buddha’s Hand tea. They are roasting it and they want me to try. They prepare one from the previous year and then brew the one they are roasting. I can feel the new one is not yet perfect, by the flavour and the face of the owner. “They would not dare to give to the clients like this”, tells me Jack, “but you are a new friend”. It is a nice gesture from their side. It was a great company and a lot of knowledge about tea.