Tea lover’s responsibilities

When I read the ‘nicely written article’s that posted to the International Tea Talk – ” Taiwan is destroying high mountain tea farms”, as a Taiwanese and a responsible tea lover, here I think it is necessary for me to post a clarification today:

The notion of using “tea farms” is a big mistake. How much does the writer really know about  the situation of 106K, tea environment structure and land conservation issues in Taiwan?

When writing a reporting article, people should get the facts right first, especially when s/he tries to emphasis her/his role to report the truth of tea.

This is 106K tea garden on Da Yu Ling. Pay attention to the neighbour ground and question -> Where were trees gone? Is it OK to destroy the nature forest? (photo from internet)

This is 106K tea garden on Da Yu Ling. Pay attention to the neighbour ground and question -> Where were trees gone? Is it OK to destroy the nature forest? (photo from internet)

For example, the (ex) 106K tea farm on Da Yu Ling was a very beautiful tea estate, but the family Chen obtained the land leasing contract illegally ( the original land leasing policy is to encourage veterans to preserve the nature in the region of Central Mountains that allowed them to plant extra agricultural  products in the forest, but did not allow any one to destroy the original forest;  the leasing contract is available to veterans and their families ONLY and is not allowed to transfer to other people for commercial purpose). The Chen family are not family of the original veteran family, so first the transfer of the leasing contract was illegal, they did not pay land tax since 1993, so there is a tax issue; furthermore they shouldn’t have destroyed the nature forest by cutting down too much trees in order to create a beautiful tea garden. In their promotion photo’s they only showed those 50 years old tea trees, but never showed the ugly side of how they destroyed the forest.

Tea garden from Lishan to Fu Shou Shan

Indeed the government in Taiwan has intention to gradually recover the land in the high mountain regions when the family of original assigned veterans can’t continue their original agricultural works. The aim is to prevent further natural disasters of land- and mudslides that happened in the recent years by restoring and protect the nature forest.

Tea trees can get old, but their roots are not growing deep enough to hold the ground. This is a photo of land sliding on the road from Lishan to Da Yu Ling in 2015.

Tea trees can get old even for the bush-type tea tree cultivar, but their roots are not growing deep enough to hold the ground due to regular fertilization. This is a photo of land sliding on the road from Lishan to Da Yu Ling in 2015. Can you imagine how many families and lives faced threat because of such disaster? We were there in June 2015 and the road was closed.

When we claim that we love tea, Can we ignore the responsibilities to protect the nature and to prevent nature disaster because of illegal actions of cutting down the forest??????

Those who respect laws and legal regulations are still producing quality teas on high mountains, I.e. Da Yu Ling, in Taiwan. But those who disobeyed laws were forced to close down and replant trees  to protect the nature. There are still legal tea farms in the region of Central Mountains in Taiwan to produce pure quality oolong tea to satisfy tea lovers around the world today.

When writing article should first research the facts correctly. No matter what, as responsible tea lovers we can not and should not indirectly support outlaws and illegal actions that destroy the nature in the name of tea.

As tea lover and as a tea journalist ,I truly think any form of report should be cautious and curious; it is necessary  to check all facts and being clear with particularity, but not generalised to imply ‘farms” while the truth happened to one tea farm.  It is not our role to create confusion, certainly when the ‘the government has taken legal actions to protect the nature’ is totally not the case that the government  trying to destroy ‘tea farms’.  Tea teaches us the virtues of being honest; we should at least show respect to the professionalism and take our responsibilities seriously.

Will provide more precise and correct information in May 

Soon tea farms in high mountain regions, such as Li Shan, Da Yu Ling, are to start the tea picking. I have requested my friend to visit that region and provide the most updated information.  So soon I will follow this matter and provide the most correct information in May. 

A good news for tea lovers, you still can purchase pure quality high mountain Oolong teas from Taiwan.

Tea lover’s responsibilities

This serves as a self-reminderas well that since we claim ourselves as tea lovers, we should also show concern and support to protect the nature. When we enjoy a cup tea, we should perhaps consider how we can collectively encourage tea farms to do their best to protect the nature but not encourage them to be blinded by short-term business gain by destroying it.  This concern is not just limited to high mountain oolong in Taiwan, but we should have the same attitude towards  to all teas around the world.

Tea provides endless learning.  In the journey we need to keep our mind opened, the internet technology opens multiple channels to access  articles or books on line consolidated and fast in massive volume. How to clarify and consolidate those information is very challenging task for us.

When we quote or relay article written by others, I think we should at least show the following basic respect:

  1. Carefully check the authenticity and correctness of those information.  Preferably to summarize our learning in writing so we can take the responsibility for what was posting under our own name.
  2. Indicate the name of source to show the basic respect to the copyrights. Instead of using copy+paste, perhaps we can simply post of copy of photo of such article (if it is not a text article on the internet). Before doing that, first make sure it is allowed by the original publisher or writer.

©copyrighted Mei Lan Hsiao, Belgium  Chinese Tea Arts Center, info@chineseteaarts.com +32494506899