Promote Sustainablity – Get Great Tea – Click here to view our campaign to preserve small-scale tea production. Support us, and get your share of tea, and help spread the word!

 At the ripe young age of 60, with over 30 years of extensive experience in the industry, a tea farmer in Lugu, Taiwan is returning to his roots, and going small-scale organic. By backing this campaign, you are enabling us to show this farmer, and the industry, that his efforts are what tea lovers around the world want to support.IMG_4714 (1)

With your help, we will purchase the entire winter harvest to share exclusively with backers of this campaign. This is the first substantial crop from this new plot of tea that has just recently been certified as an organic transitional farm. We will also produce a video documentary of recent events including organic inspection and certification, the harvesting and processing of the winter crop, and Mr. Lin’s story that led to this project. We believe that this campaign will have an impact on the local industry by representing international support for this small-scale artisan tea making.

This project is the culmination of 20 years of exploring Taiwan tea. Our recent connection with Mr. Lin, however, is what has brought this campaign into being. Eco-Cha was initially conceived to support sustainability in the local tea industry. We soon realized that the traditional industry that predated large-scale tea production is synonymous with sustainable practice – particularly now that responsible farming practices have been recovered and innovated. We see Mr. Lin’s current work in growing organic tea on his repurposed family land and building a refurbished factory in his home for organic tea IMG_4745 (1)production as a prototype of our mission.IMG_4591 (1)

We met Mr. Lin at a pivotal point in his career. He has been through a lot in the last 20 years or so, and now he is aligning his personal values with his professional skills and resources to do the right thing.

He started learning the tea trade as a teenager in his hometown, which happens to be the source of Taiwan’s historical Dong Ding Oolong Tea. The demand for this tea went beyond the limits of local production and spurred the development of remote, large-scale tea production in the form of High Mountain Tea – Taiwan’s new age oolong. Mr. Lin followed this lucrative trend and developed a large, high-elevation farm far away from his home. Due to factors that he could neither control nor agree with, he left this level of industry behind after 15 years of work in developing a tea farm.

He came back to his family land and cleared a virgin plot of bamboo forest to plant Qing Xin Oolong in an undeveloped corner of Lugu Township. For some unknown reason, the crop failed. He then decided to grow persimmons. This worked well, until a spike in the local monkey population made it a losing battle. Mr. Lin has been a vegetarian for 40 years and has no interest in harming animals, so he surrendered to the monkeys and let go of his persimmon crop. He then worked as a manager of tea production in various capacities in Taiwan and China. In the process, he reconnected with a grade-school classmate who developed Taiwan’s first ecological high elevation organic oolong tea farm. After processing tea at this farm for several seasons (which is where we met Mr. Lin) he was convinced that this is the new horizon.Here is the view from his farm:IMG_4681

Two years ago, he planted a crop of a new hybrid oolong, Tai Cha # 20. This plant is a recent development by the Tea Research Extension Station to be more resistant to natural pests and suitable to the climate/elevation of his land. We had a chance to procure some of the earliest production of this new hybrid a few years ago, and have been searching for a steady source ever since. It has a unique fragrance and character of flavor that somehow embodies a traditional oolong – perhaps akin to Tie Guan Yin. We have high hopes for the future production of this strain.IMG_4724

Now, in cooperation with Mr. Lin, we are determined to procure the entire winter harvest and produce a video documentary of this prototypical story. This tea will be reserved for the backers of this campaign. We are doing this to make a clear statement to the local industry that there is a support for local, small-scale, organic tea production from an international audience.

We were there and documented the organic inspection in early September. We have continued to compile this story and will produce a full video documentary of this exemplary case study. To our knowledge, no other farm in Lugu is certified by the same organization. Also, there is no other certified organic tea factory in the area. This small traditional style factory will be available for other local tea farmers to make use of in the production of their certified organic tea. Mr. Lin is breaking ground in the local industry in this respect, and we are backing him with all we have.IMG_4238

If this story is meaningful to you, and you feel that our efforts in being a bilateral conduit between you, the consumer and the local tea industry here in Taiwan are potentially effective in preserving an organically cultivated traditional product of regional origin while providing you with some of the world’s finest tea, please choose a perk and make your pledge now. If you back our campaign immediately, you are increasing the odds that we will achieve our goal.

We have designed our perks to meet anyone’s level of ability and interest. From a sample pack of tea from this harvest to a full year’s supply from all four harvests of 2015, and more… You can even come visit the farm and meet Mr. Lin and have a complete 7-day Taiwan tea tour!  We invite you to partake in this historical harvest of tea, and in doing so, show your support for preserving a tradition and an industry that is threatened by modern trends of homogenization and commercial production. Please, click here, choose a pledge, and help us make a difference by sharing this campaign.

Heartfelt thanks in advance for supporting our vocation.

Images courtesy of the contributor.  Andy Kincart is sourcing director for Eco-Cha Tea.