Switching to a Job Not Prepared for: Tea – Lin Yaojing’s family Interview
「你們本來就應該來看看啊! 才知道我說的有沒有騙人。」 茶展上認識的林太太，在電話那頭大聲嚷嚷著。就這樣，在一個颱風氣旋輕輕劃過東岸，台東難得飄著雨的天氣，我們開著車往台東鹿野龍田村裡去。
"You should have come and see it earlier – just to know, if what I say is true or not", Mrs. Lin, whom we met at a tea exhibition, shouts loudly on the phone. It so happened, that a cyclone during a typhoon had swept across the eastern coast, leaving the city of Taitung afloat due to the rainy weather.
We drove off to Luye Township´s Longtian Village in Taitung. For this trip, we were to search for the kind of tea which represents Taitung.
Arriving Longtian, the scenery alongside the road allows one to calm down. Around the bend, Lin Wang Tea Works sign is printed directly on the concrete with an additional slogan next to it: "laughing face, sweet mouth, flexible waist, quick hands and feet".
Mrs. Lin, who returned home the day before, had cleaned the inside and outside of the house spotless early in the morning. With her tanned complexion full of smile, she truly is the finest spokesperson for the tea scene. Following suite is the friendly greeting and the warm welcome by which Mrs. Lin invites us to have tea and enjoy the refreshments.
有別於我們拜訪過的茶農，林家人沒有任何茶葉世家的歷史淵源，一切從零開始全心全意邊做邊學。初期思考如何把茶苗養成樹? 茶園裡該如何除草、維護和照顧? 待茶樹可以採摘後，採茶、製茶、賣茶又是另一段旅程。林家人在他們自有的土地上，從茶農做起，手工除草，為茶樹準備植物性的有機肥料，伴隨日出日落作息，黝黑的皮膚，粗糙的掌心是務農的印記。爾後，他們更自行建造了通過IOS22000認證的製茶廠房，研讀製茶。令人印象深刻的是，即便當天我們只是臨時性拜訪，休息中的茶廠依舊是一塵不染。
Head of the Lin family, Yaojing, worked originally as a civil engineer in Yilan, undertaking the Taitung Beinan Cultural Park landscape project. On the one hand, she heeded the call of the beautiful scenery in Taitung, and on the other, she was facing a burnout from work. As a result, the family moved from Yilan to Taitung in 1994. Growing tea was a job it had not prepared for.
Lin family is different from the other tea growers which we have visited, because it has no historical family ties to tea growing whatsoever. Everything was started from ground up, by working and studying wholeheartedly. How to grow the tea seedlings into tea plants? How to weed, protect and attend the tea plantation? Furthermore, once the plants are harvested and turned into tea, the sales of it is an entirely different story.
On the land owned by the Lin family, weeding is done by hand and a vegetable based organic fertilizer is prepared for the tea plants. Sunrises, sunsets, work and rest darken the skin and coarsen the hands – telltale signs of a farmer.
The family has built an ISO22000 certified tea factory on their own and further studied tea. What also made a profound impression was the tidiness of the factory, even though we were just visiting, and it was a day-off.
When meeting today´s generation of tea growers or vendors from Longtian, they have a habit of saying "our tea is not like those grown in the high mountains, but have a sip and see for yourself". People who farm know in their hearts that the local conditions have a direct and profound influence on the crop.
This trip was taken to discover the type of tea which is bred for the latitude and climate of Taitung. At the same time, we found people who understood how to approach tea and how to make it.
In the Taitung Oolong tea made by the Lin family, we tasted the sweetness of Oolong, but also the inseparable mind that is the family.