I recently had the pleasure of traveling to Taiwan and during this trip I was blessed to visit an Organic Tea Farm called Happy Tea ( http://happytea.tw - This website is only in the Taiwanese language).
To visit an all organic Tea farm in Taiwan is not exactly the easiest thing to accomplish especially if you are on a time limit. The majority of Tea Farms are actually located in the mountains where roads are not paved and it can take a very long day to get to them. This however was not the main deterrent. For generations Tea has been farmed in Taiwan and what has become normal also as a mind set, is the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and toxic farming methods to combat the bugs and pests in these remote regions. Tea is a very valuable crop in Taiwan. Six ounces of quality High Mountain Tea can easily be sold for $50.00 to $100.00 US dollars! You would think with these kinds of prices you would be guaranteed to get a safe chemical free product. Well thanks to farms like Happy Tea it is possible to change the mind set while providing a poison free product that is amongst the best Teas in Taiwan!
On our way to find an organic Tea Farm we were told by everyone that There aren't any all organic farmsť, and we should just go to one of the BIG farms. This was not on my agenda and after losing my temper at a small tea farm on the side of the road, I told the translator just to take me home!
The Tea farmers were so taken a back by my American emotions; they went inside and called the local Tea Farmers association who told them about the Happy Tea Farm located only 35 minutes from where we were. I was so happy and excited! On the windy road my anticipation grew until we finally arrived to the most gracious and lovely owners of this farm. I knew this was the perfect Farm for the website and our day from this point on was nothing less then magical!
Walking around the farm was so fun. First off it was just beautiful. The rows were so uniform and easy to get around the soil was soft under your feet. The views of the mountains and the fresh air from the jungles made it special. Beautiful pineapple plants were growing between some of the tea rows. A palm tree with an old cactus plant growing in the middle of the field added a mystical presence to the beauty and purity of the Farm. The farmer who smiled the entire day got me to eat the Tea to see the difference in tastes, between Oblong and black tea which they grew. It tasted great and being an avid vegetable eater I had no problem chewing on leaves for the next few hours! Later that evening we ate dinner with our fabulous hosts and they served fried tea leaves. These were so tasty I couldn't stop eating them!
The Barriers were set up by the Happy Tea Farm to stop any chemicals from the neighboring Tea farms from penetrating into the happy fields. A small area was planted between the barrier and the Tea which in time would serve as a natural filter to protect these areas from any encroaching poisons.
The water towers for the farm are also completely covered and protected from any outside contaminants. The field and water supply are tested regularly by the Taiwanese authorities. The Happy Tea farm owners are so proud of there certifications. It is hard work to ensure your neighbors harmful farming practices are not effecting your farm!
Mountain Field, Happy Tea farm also had another organic field on top of the mountain directly across from the main growing field. I was thrilled to get to ride to the top of the mountain! Once we had navigated all the little roads and cut offs we arrived at the Happy field, on top of the mountain. This tea is classified as High Mountain Tea! The soil was so nice to touch; it felt like a soft bed.
Happy Tea's organic practices really work using different species of bugs as pest controllers and natural sprays they have succeeded in making a very successful farm. Once again the Happy Tea people had to erect barriers quite high to keep the neighboring Tea fields poisons from entering. What's amazing is that these barriers really work!
The sad thing is that the run off from the rains takes all the pollutants from the chemical fertilizers & pesticides and transports them into the rivers. Poisoning a very large unknown area. We all need to think about all these things when purchasing goods. Are actions as buyers and consumers can change our world!