Of Mountain and Earth, of People from All Directions - An Introduction of Liouguei District
Liouguei District is situated between plain and hills with gentle weather brought by the Laonong River. The district is composed of multiple races which are Hakka, Minnan, Chinese immigrants, and aboriginals. Most of the residents are living on the agriculture and forestry industry. The people here are recognized as simple and hard working.
Liouguei District began to develop tea industry 40 years ago and the tea village was formed since then. The business was started with Oolong and Ginseng but since Taiwanese prefer high-mountain tea of these two breeds, the trend had turned to the development of "Taiwanese original mountain tea" with local flavor.
A New Life Was Born． After Morakot Typhoon
In the summer of 2009, the mudflow caused by Morakot Typhoon had stroke hard on Liouguei District.
Shinfa Village, which is famous for tea production is one of the severely affected areas. Bridges and roads were all destroyed, while the mudflow had swallowed up the whole village. Of course, tea farms were no exception. The tea industry of Shinfa Village began to go downhill after this damage. In 2016, after a few years of recovering, with the support of Liouguei District Farmers Association and the hard work of local people, "non-toxic ecology mountain tea training course" was established. The target of the course is to gather tea farmers with the same concept of eco-friendly farming and combine the business with tourism marketing to rebuild the tea industry without affecting local ecology.
Nowadays, these tea farmers who are respecting nature and land have received recognition from all aspects. In 2018, Huaxing Tea Factory first participated iTQi in Belgium with their Taiwanese original mountain tea and was honored by Superior Taste Award. In 2019, except winning the Superior Taste Award again, the mountain tea also was awarded to silver and special medal from AVPA Tea Contest in France. Also, in the International Famous Tea Appraisal Announcement, their Oolong and black tea had won gold and sliver medal. The international recognition had even attracted Japanese tea masters. These had brought the undesirable Taiwanese original mountain tea to the world's level.
Live with the Mountain-The Liouguei Tea Producing Spirit
When talking about tea, people might first come up with the image of tidy and terraced tea farms on hills. However, people might not have the idea about how much damage those tea farms might cause water and soil conservation by keep applying heavy fertilizer and shortening tea trees. And since climate change is getting more and more severe these years, those actions might lead to great danger.
The spirit of tea farmers in Liouguei District is "respecting the land". They adopt "natural agriculture" to protect the environment. "Natural agriculture" does not modify the land, use pesticide, use fertilizer, or shorten tea trees. Tea farmers breed the tea trees wildly and organically. Boars and Muntjaks could even be seen in the farmland. However, with this premise, tea farmers in Liouguei District could only harvest the single leaves difficultly.
You will see something very different from what you expect for a tea farm when you step into the tea farm in Liouguei District. A forest of tea trees is rooted deep into the ground. Farmers weeding, defaunating, and harvesting all by their hands to get hold of tea leaves with as less interference to the environment as possible. With the minimum interference of human beings, Liouguei District gets to preserve its natural environment. From this point, you are no longer drinking tea, but the spirit of the mountain which can also be known as Taiwanese flavor.
Flavors from the Earth-Specialties of Liouguei Mountain Tea
You might feel confused about if this tea is harvested in such a natural way will it taste good?
The balance between good taste and eco-friendly is always a topic for tea farmers in Liouguei District. Taiwanese mountain tea is planted in the mountain with an altitude of 1,500 meters. The tea tree is categorized as deep-rooted arbor and since it is affected by the southern weather, soil, and temperature, normal production process of shrub tea will make the tea tastes bitter and astringent. After years of research and improvement, tea masters of Liouguei District had successfully increased the flavor of the tea by controlling temperature, time, and fermentation level of tea firing to decrease damages toward trace elements in tea leaves. Moreover, they even came up with methods to extract flavors of sugarcane and honey from the leaves. These distributions had rapidly raised the tastiness of the mountain tea.
The natural treatment toward tea trees enables the completeness of the ecology that leads to the pureness and simplicity of Liouguei mountain tea. Every taste of the tea brings out the unique character of its original mountain and shows you every corner of Taiwanese ecology.