I’m waiting in the lobby with a gigantic package with me. I am sending it back home, and hopefully it’ll arrive
before I do.

Bi Luo Chun tea

I mostly send it via air mail, purely because it’s better for the quality. If it were to, lets say, be shipped, it could take months, which makes the tea less fresh. So in the end it’s better to pay up in order to secure a good quality product. Today however, it’s research day into the cheapest prices and different possibilities. One last picture ,and there it goes! See you in the Netherlands! We’re on our way to Shan-hsia. I’m going to be tasting Bi Luo Chun tea, and I hope to be purchasing some too. This is the last area I’ll be visiting together with my guide, after which I’ll go to Taipei, where I have back-to-back appointments for two days straight. We drive on and I stare outside through the window. I don’t mind driving through this area one bit, it's so beautiful!

dog and husband

Before I even realise, we’ve arrived at the farmer's house. We walk in and I see different prices hanging on the walls. We’re greeted by a big group of elderly women who seem very curious about me. The group interrogates me, to which my guide translates the questions, I answer half truthfully, and she translates again. The truthful answers to questions like ‘are you married?’ would not be received positively around here. Whats a woman doing here alone, unmarried, without a man; yet she owns a house? So I always end up telling lots of stories about my dog and husband and try to avoid the typical questions.

same leaves

We meet the farmer who wants to go down to the fields immediately. They don’t have a lot of time to waste because “they are farmers, not salesmen” they say. Nice slogan, I’m digging it. They tell me they have two subvarieties, and show me. We enter the factory, and I’m surprised to see the machine you make Long-jin with here. I was under the impression they only processed Bi luo chun, but apparently they make both from the same leaf! This makes me even more curious as to how it’ll taste. They’ve got oolong, black tea, and many different green teas, so there is enough variation! It’s time to taste and WOW, it’s so spectacular! They’re all so good! I can’t pick, ideally I’d take everything with me!

clementines during the negotiations

The flavours are good, now let’s hear the Terms and Conditions. Here we go. They really want to sell to me, which saves me a lot of time. They think it’s nice that their product is sold all the way in the Netherlands. I show them the packaging we have, and that it shows the exact location the tea came from. This excites them even more! I think to myself  ‘hmm, this seems to be going really well, in no time we’ll be having lunch and I’ll have some samples in my handbag to take back home’. This isn’t the case though, because things take a difficult turn; they’re under the impression that I’ll take home all the kilos I’ve ordered.. Right now. Uhm.. That’s not going to fit in my suitcase. I explain to them I do business with a lot of farmers already. I send the money, they send the tea, that this method eliminates all risks and I can even help them send tea over. They don’t seem to understand what I mean, and why I can’t take it with me now. While I eat clementines with the women, my guide explains everything to the farmer once more. After about 15 minutes we’ve got it figured out. My guide will be helping us out too. Good. I decide to buy a few kilos, send some back home and keep some for on the way. It’s too good to resist. I skip to the car, feeling happy and content. My tea mission in Taiwan is a success! I’ve gotten to know so many great farmers, stories, drank gorgeous tea and gained a lot of knowledge. Happy me!

This blog is about No.099 - Bi Lo Chun