Remembering the first experience of this finest gem from a trip to Nankang, less then 2 hours drive from Taipei. One of the oldest tea farmer named Yeung Tim and his family in the region introduced this eye opening tea to us. After a full day of drinking (tea and local wine) and eating white baby bamboo shoot, mountain chicken ginger soup and fresh tea leave tempura.
I still remember the moment after dinning outside Yeung's garden overlooking the whole valley. The Grandson (half drank) pulled out a pure silver pot from the family house, to show us what Real Taiwanese tea is! The name, Da yu ling, was new to me at that time, and the concept of pouring rolling-boiled water into a silver pot with light oolong in it was even newer. "Will that be too hot for the little ones?" I insisted. "This silver pot cooking tech. is the only way for this tea! The stronger the better!!" And I will never argue with any locals from that day on....
What an amazing treat! The theory behind the technique is: Since this is one of the highest elevation tea grown in the island, with the harsh weather and lose soil condition, the high heated pressure cooking can then release the essence of this tea. I was so intrigued and convinced of this new method. Next morning, we went down the mountain and visited one of Yeung's good friends who made teapots out of 麥飯石 Maifan stone. "This is the closest thing you can get, besides a custom-made silver pot." said the grandson.
It has since been 7 years. This teapot was setting alone in a corner of my collection until this time, and now I can finally use it! Thanks for Stéphane's most generous gift. I never had a aged DYL before, but the first sip of this amazing tea immediately transformed me back to that moment on the top of Nankang's valley. From then on, it had sprang my love and passion for Taiwanese tea. I remember writing my first Stéphane's DYL experience here: http://chadao.blogspot.com/2006/04/da-yu-ling-2005-fall-harvest.html
I think what the majority Mainland tea farmers are lacking in growing tea, comparing to Taiwanese is the passion and love which these traditional farmers have to their products. Profits and Demands of the market are not the priority to these Taiwanese tea growers, but the tradition and good life style which they have and hold on to.
I guess this is a bigger economic issue, that Chinese Agricultural Industries are facing at this moment. It is the young and aggressive market. Many new farmers are appearing by the day to profit from this rush, without the knowledges and preservations to the environment. You can not talk about pride and tradition without a meal on the table to support it.... Hopefully, in the next 20 years, we can see more concern and technology (like the Taiwan Tea Industry) introduced to protect and improve the tea industry in China.
My wife had made Cha Xiu Bao for the occasion. First CXB from scratch and First DYL from a stone pot!