A group of Taiwanese agricultural experts and tea professionals are ready to put the reputation of the nation’s oolong teas on the line by organizing a “World Oolong Tea Contest.”
The competition, scheduled for Dec. 25 to Dec. 28, will be open to anyone with a product made from Chin-Shin oolong tea leaves, Lin Chih-huang (林志煌), chief executive of the Taichung-based Taiwan Outstanding Agriculturists Association, said yesterday.
There are few restrictions on entry, Lin said, adding that applicants are only required to send 1kg of tea produced this year to the organizer.
“We welcome people from countries where Chin-Shin oolong is grown to join the contest. We also hope that many Taiwanese will sign up for the competition, which is aimed at singling out the world’s best of the best oolong tea,” association secretary-general Huang Ta-tsung (黃達聰) said.
Huang said the group hoped publicity from the competition would help expand the market for oolong tea and promote Taiwan’s high-quality oolong tea in international markets.
Association chairman Liao Lung-sheng (廖龍盛) said Taiwan has produced about 20,000 tonnes of tea in the past few years, including about 16,000 tonnes of the oolong variety.
However, Taiwanese tea farmers are coming under growing pressure from competitors in neighboring countries, such as China and Vietnam, Liao said.
In 2010, Taiwan imported more than 30,000 tonnes of tea, more than 80 percent of which came from China and Vietnam.
“Taiwan needs to make more of an effort to promote its world-renowned oolong tea,” he said.
“The enthusiasm of Taiwan’s tea farmers in developing planting and tea-making techniques is the key to making Taiwanese tea one of the world’s best,” he said.
Liao described Chin-Shin oolong, the variety used to produce most of the world’s premium oolong tea, as a delicate tea plant species that grows best in high-altitude mountainous areas covered by moist fog — conditions that are found in Taiwan.
Registration for the tea contest will be open until Nov. 30.