A Grand Adventure: Taiwan 2024 - Part 2

Tea is a window, a lens, a reflection. Tea is a means of sharpening the mind to see into the internal and external. The cultivation of self is aided by a study of tea, the understanding of culture is aided by the study of tea.

Lin Family Mansion. No relation.

There is more than tea, on these trips, more than tea tasting, more than the hedonistic enjoyment of the rare and expensive, more than the bragging rights from having been on that tea garden (humble brag).

Tea is a means. The study and understanding of tea has opened doors, created lifelong friendships, and introduced me to numerous 茶人 who have shaped my worldview and daily practice.

That's a hat in my shirt. I'm not fat.

These trips, spending the time embedded within the broader culture that surrounds tea, is, in many ways, as important as the tea itself. The arts and architecture, the food and environment, the culture and frequently cultures that interact in concert or conflict to produce what we call "tea culture" is but a sub-culture of this place.

The salt fields, still producing sea salt from the clean ocean water, sit on a bed of crushed ceramics, a recycling of broken wares to create a clean filter bed. The ocean blows eddies of salty cold air into the hot and humid day. The salt itself tastes different, tastes more, tastes longer.

The oyster beds of Dongshi offer the days catch, for grilling on charcoal, eating them near raw, as soon as they open. Poached in their own juice, these oysters are salty and sweet, their flavor matching the breeze.

We pair the food with cold Alishan tea (and beer).

hello beautiful...

Another aspect, another flavor, another adaptation to the local environment and preference and lifestyle. The tea is good, it pairs with well with the oyster and beer.

Tea is not a cultural artifact because tea is a living culture. A culture that can give and give and give. An adopted culture, a culture that has adopted me.

And also, this:

It's really good!
Tea, tea, every where,
And all the pots did shrink;
Tea, tea, every where,
Nor* any drop to drink.
The Rime of the Ancient Tea Seeker


*This is often (incorrectly) rendered as "not a drop to drink"; the original caries the same meaning.

Subscribe to Cult of Quality

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.