Taiwan Tea Life

Tea Life

It’s 4am right now, and we just finished withering and tumbling the last of the raw tea material for the day. It’s oxidizing and waiting for the next step – but I’m going to bed. My bedroom lies next to the baking room and adjacent the withering, tumbling, and oxidizing room. One can only imagine the layers of aroma. Yes, I live in a tea factory – it’s difficult yet rewarding work, and it’s a good life, but not for everyone. For me, if money were of no concern, and I had all the time in the world, this is what I would want to be doing right now.

Anyway, I’m at roughly 3300ft elevation in the small tea village, Taiwan. Here I have dedicated myself to the laborious task of working in a tea factory and out in the fields – and let me tell you, it’s backbreaking, nail grinding, and finger callusing work. I’ve been here for one week now, spending day and night – literally – helping with the various steps of Oolong tea processing. I’ve seen thousands of pounds of raw leaf move through this factory, from the field to the vacuum-sealed bag, and every step in between.

It’s been a real blessing that I be accepted to volunteer here. In just one week, I have volumes of insights and stories to share (and some to withhold). It would seem we are sold an ideal image of tea in the west, but from my intimate experience in this one small tea village, I would like to portray a much more realistic and raw picture, one that is less fantastical as we see it in books and documentaries, but one that nonetheless portrays why Tea is a Beautiful and Spiritual Art.

I’ll be posting new updates slowly for a number of reasons; it will be worth it to address certain facets of tea life in great detail. For now: know that when you are waking up (PST), we are here in the mountains of Taiwan, making tea.


14 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on April 11, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    and I am here, in the seattle airport, enjoying reading your update. Cheers man.


  2. Posted by gmarrs on April 11, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    you may want to check your sentence “..if I had all the etc…” as I think you mean you would like to do this forever as you are doing it now….looks peaceful son


    • Well, one cannot predict what they would like to do forever. I think it would be naive of me to suggest that I would like to do this forever. The crux of that sentence is the “right now” portion, suggesting that one can choose to want to be doing whatever is they are doing in the present moment. So 30 years from now, I might not want to work in a tea factory, but whatever I am doing, if I have the right attitude (a skilled outlook on life), I can choose for it to be what I want to be doing then. Get my drift? It’s about being open and flexible to whatever reality unpredictably brings your way, while also understanding that your beliefs, frame of mind, and choice of perception help mold, shape, and create that reality.


  3. Posted by mo sardella on April 11, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    congrats Shane!! you are a very fortunate man to have taken your life’s journey back to Rueili. Please say hello to Mr. and Mrs. Wang for me…


  4. What a great photo, and a fascinating contrast with the photos from Hawai’i.


  5. Posted by Anonymous on April 11, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    Aloha Shane, Good to hear from you! Can’t wait to hear the ‘stories’. Aloha Craig and Kathy


  6. Posted by Anonymous on April 11, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    Aloha Shane!
    I can only believe your journey is as fellowship within the tea.
    Bravo, keep up the good work as it will serve you well for life ahead.


  7. Is that garlic back there?


  8. Posted by Anonymous on April 23, 2012 at 7:56 AM

    Just looking over your musings on the subject of tea and what a joy they are to read.
    We think of you and your considerable contributions at Cloudwater often.
    Auntie Michelle and Mr. Parker


  9. Posted by Robekkah on April 24, 2012 at 10:54 PM

    For me, if money were of no concern, and I had all the time in the world, that is what I would want to be doing right now!

    much metta~


  10. Hi Shane, what a treasure trove of information and honest reflection to this whole entire process. I have so enjoyed your blog. I was wondering if you were wearing those hooked shaped clip-pers on the tea pickers hands that I saw on the trip to the tea fields there in Rieuli. I am going to continue to read and might have some questions time I get to the end. paula w.


    • Hi Paula, nice to hear from you :) Thanks for the comment, it is a wild and wonderful adventure I’ve found myself on, so I’m glad you enjoy reading my blog.

      As for the clippers, you’ll be surprised to know they are no more than shaving razor blades taped to the forefinger. I’ve never worn them, and without, you develop a nice callus at the end of the day. Almost all of the tea pickers here wear them because they greatly increase picking speed.

      Take care!


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