Operating in the back of a small fabric shop in Vancouver, tea connoisseur Jenny Lo (羅靖茵) opens a bottle of cold oolong tea made from leaves sourced from Taiwanese farmers, whose tea would have never found a fair market overseas.
While visiting Taiwan, Lo remembers sitting around her grandfather’s large, heavyset tea table with collections of cups and kettles for steeping while he taught her about different aromas and how to tell the difference between tea varieties.
Inspired by her family’s four generation history in the Taiwanese tea business, Lo and her family launched Oollo Tea last year. The company sells hand-rolled tea leaves sourced from micro farms such as North Dongyan Mountain (北東眼山) in Nantou County and Pinglin District (坪林區) in New Taipei City.
Photo courtesy of Oollo Tea
Oollo Tea operates out of booths at festivals and special events around Vancouver. But instead of bringing teas to her customers this summer, Lo is collaborating with budding Taiwanese designers in a joint pop-up store starting next month in Vancouver’s West End.
Oollo Tea proudly promotes the direct trade model which gives farmers more pay than they would receive working with dealers.
According to Fairtrade Canada, 90 per cent of the tea market in North America is controlled by seven transnational corporations. Consequently, Lo says, farmers are “struggling through the system.”
Photo courtesy of Oollo Tea
“They’re really dedicated, but they’re so busy making good tea, they don’t have the energy to market themselves. So they’re kind of pressed to sell to big corporations … they’re not really being paid what I think it’s worth.”
Although Oollo Tea pays farmers higher prices, Lo stresses their self-regulating approach is different from the Fairtrade model which costs farmers additional money and paper work to get certified.
Tea hunter and Jenny’s father Tang Lo (羅賴堂) says they negotiate prices for each batch of tea based on the temperature, season and quality at harvest time.
Tang Lo also says the farmers are supportive of young entrepreneurs who create an international platform for Taiwanese tea.
“It’s enabling them to access outside Taiwan because most of them speak Mandarin and I am able to help them and be able to access the English-language market,” Jenny Lo added. For more information, visit oollotea.com
Taiwan’s rapid economic development between the 1950s and the 1980s is often attributed to rational planning by highly-educated and impartial technocrats. Those who look at history through blue-tinted spectacles argue that, for much of the post-war period, the government was staffed by Chinese who fled China after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lost the civil war “who had no property interests in Taiwan and no connections with a landlord class,” leaving “the KMT party-state more autonomous from societal influences than governments [elsewhere in East Asia],” writes Gaye Christoffersen in Market Economics and Political Change: Comparing China and Mexico. At the same
It’s impossible to write a book entirely in the Taokas language. There are only about 500 recorded words in the Aboriginal tongue, whose speakers shifted to Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) generations ago while preserving certain Taokas phrases in their speech. “When I first started recording the language around 1997, I really had to jog the memories of the elders to find anything,” says Liu Chiu-yun (劉秋雲) a member of the Taokas community and a language researcher. The Taokas last month unveiled a picture book, Osubalaki, Balalong Ramut the community’s first-ever commercial publication using the language. The lavishly illustrated book
Certain historical statues have been disappearing in Thailand, but they are not effigies of colonialists or slave owners torn down by protesters. Instead, Thailand’s vanishing monuments celebrated leaders of the 1932 revolution that ended absolute monarchy in Thailand, who were once officially honored as national heroes and symbols of democracy. Reuters has identified at least six sites memorializing the People’s Party that led the revolution which have been removed or renamed in the past year. In most cases it is not known who took the statues down, although a military official said one was removed for new landscaping. Two army camps named after 1932
Jason Ward fell in love with birds at age 14 when he spotted a peregrine falcon outside the homeless shelter where he was staying with his family. The now 33-year-old Atlanta bird lover parlayed that passion into a YouTube series last year. One of the guests on his first episode of Birds of North America was Christian Cooper, a black bird watcher who was targeted in New York City’s Central Park by a white woman after he told her to leash her dog. A video capturing the encounter showed the woman, Amy Cooper (no relation), retaliate by calling the police