Tea competition is open to general public for viewing. I stay here to document the whole competition process with my iPad mini.
First, weather condition is important. It will affect the quality of the tea and how long the production times take.
11:06 am. Fresh Tea arrives. Dissipate heat before distributed to tea masters.
11:08 am. Each tea master get 10 kg of fresh tea leaves.
11:25 am. Oxidation Process started. Because the sun is too strong, most of the tea masters chose to spray tea under the shade. (Most people called this process Fermentation Process which is technically incorrect. We will write a post about fermentation and oxidation process in the future.)What Ai got today is 40% old tea leaves (bad), 40% medium leaves (good), and 20% young leaves (better).
1:55 pm. On going oxidation process -2nd leaves turn. ( Wind change direction and pick up speed, Ai moves her out of the open plan.)
4:00 pm. On going oxidation process -3rd leaves turn. (At this point, most of the tea masters move their tea inside the building. However, the location is ordered by the organization, for tea master get the left side of the area has advantage of those on the right because where the wind came from.)
6:44 pm. On going oxidation process -4th leaves turn. ( You can start to smell the difference between tea masters now. Should not produce too much aroma at this point, needs to wait till water in the tea leaf slowly dissipate. Try to reach water content to about 50%. )
8:40 pm. On going oxidation process -5th leaves turn. (Tea leaves should feel soft now)
9:48 pm. On going oxidation process -6th leaves turn. (Turn more frequently to stop water evaporation.)
11:50 pm. On going oxidation process -final leaves turn. (The key is to control the speed of water evaporation. When water evaporate smoothly, tea leaves start to curb)
1:57 am. next day. Rolling for 2 mins. (The tea leaves become extreme hot after fixation process. Immediately put it in the rolling machine to roll the leaves. This remind me of when I grow up, I was in charge of this machine. By the time the rolling process begins, it’s usually way pass midnight. I would be so tired, but knowing my parents working so hard, I can’t just go to sleep! I let my body hang around the rolling machine and when it moves in circle it moves my body in circle as well. It was little fun I had. 🙂 )
2:00 am. next day. Drying. (High heat to stop oxidation process)
4:30 am. next day. Semi finish product. ( Now it’s time you can finally get rest, the rest of the production are not time sensitive, It can be done next day. But for tea competition, they need to stay and finish the whole process.)
4:45 am. next day. Hands sort the long stem out of the tea.
6:30 am. next day. Final submission. DEAD TIRED!!!
Tea making is not only physical challenge, it also needs to have tremendous experience in order to master the tea making techniques. Salut to all the tea masters that participate this time!
Tea Making competition is a 24 hours competition which tea makers are giving exact same amount of fresh pick tea leaves. All competitors stay in the same area and use the same equipments to produce tea. The propose of tea competition is to award tea masters that has outstanding tea making techniques.
Date: 09/ 14/13- 09/15/13
Place: Luodong Culture Park, Yilan Taiwan
Qualify Tea Makers: 40 Tea Makers. 37 Male, 3 female. Only one tea maker from each tea shop is allowed to enter the competition.
(Site note: 3 of our family members from 3 different tea shops are in the competition this time. Jhentea’s Ai Fang won the second place out of 110 tea masters for the last Tea Making competition held over 10 years ago. This is the first time Yilan government held live tea competition after 10 years. Ai is looking to get a good result. Uncle Cien and Uncle Yuan are also selected to be competing this time.)