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Introducing our Taiwanese tea sourcing partner ~ Tania Stacey

By Kym Cooper. Posted
Introducing our Taiwanese tea sourcing partner ~ Tania Stacey

I was fortunate to connect with Tania Stacey in 2017 at an Australian tea event. Tania Stacey is the owner of Cuppa Cha and producer of Cuppa Cha's TEA channel (a tea resource focused on providing a free educational resource for tea professionals). She also has a solid reputation as 'the' Taiwanese tea specialist in the Australian market. 

I was a little uncertain whether Tania would be interested in working with me as a sourcing partner. So many small tea businesses are coming and going at the moment and I feel in awe of those that have tenure and experience, particularly in the speciality tea business. I have no expectation that a partner will want to work with me before proving my tea knowledge and genuine interest in advocating for specific tea growing regions.  

You soon come to realise sourcing partners can be selective of whom they work with as many have a profound connection with the country they source tea and want to see it being correctly represented. Fortunately, Tania and I connected on many levels. It is both Tania's exceptional understanding and connections within the Taiwanese tea industry, knowledge of cultivars and discipline in cupping and knowing each tea she has access to combined with her genuine desire to share her tea knowledge (even beyond Taiwanese teas) that makes her such an incredible partner. And I would say we have become good friends through the process. 

I truly believe that by working with specialist partners I am able to utilise their experience, knowledge and connections on the ground to offer the very best tea to my customers. Further, I am also able to continue growing as a tea specialist as I also have access to information about the tea, the industry and innovations. 

I really wanted to share Tania's passion and interest in Taiwanese tea and I am truly grateful she was happy to answer some questions on this topic. Sit down, make a cuppa and enjoy reading about what makes Tania the most desireable Taiwanese sourcing partner to have for The Steepery Tea Co. You will soon realise why I have a superb Taiwanese tea selection in my catalogue.  

The Steepery Tea Co. - Tealosophy Tania Stacey with producer

1. Why have you been drawn to Taiwanese tea?

After a lot of stalking on the internet and speaking with people at World Tea Expo, it was the first country I decided to visit to study tea. I chose well, landed on my feet and the first trip started a number of solid relationships that I haven’t been able to shake! I was fortunate to meet very open, genuine and highly experienced tea people that have been very keen to teach me as much as I want to know. There was no holding back in any information and they were keen to work with me at building the profile of Taiwanese Oolongs in Australia. Why have I been drawn to Taiwanese tea? The people, the land and the tea!

2. How do you decide which tea producers to work with in Taiwan?

It is a little bit of they chose me as much as I chose them. You have to remember it is their tea that they proudly produce for us to enjoy. They sell me the tea and educate me with their skills and knowledge. I need to represent the tea and tell their story in a way that they approve. I couldn’t work with farmers that didn’t provide that education support. My farmers all carry the ISO2200 certification which quality farmers in Taiwan are very proud to achieve and underpins the international standard of quality teas I promote.

3. Can you share one interesting fact about the Taiwanese tea market that may not be commonly known?

Taiwan is a reflection of its colonisation history with various languages and the various Romanization systems of the languages. It makes studying the Taiwan tea industry interesting and challenging. You most definitely require patience and a sense of humour while you battle through the various names and systems created formally and colloquially. One example is the well-known Oolong – Tie Guan Yin. In Taiwan, it can be the tea plant or the process. It is not common for Tie Guan Yin to be made from the tea plant.   Usually, other cultivars are used but processed in the style of Tie Guan Yin.

The Steepery Tea Co. - Tealosophy Tania Stacey making oolong tea

4. What are the characteristics of quality Taiwanese teas?

There is something intangible about quality Taiwanese tea. The first smell and first sip always transports me back to the farm or the occasion, I tasted that tea.   In my mind, I look for and in this order - the Aroma, the Aftertaste and any sign of astringency. The wet leaf will tell you the story of how it arrived by the hand of the farmer.

5. How would you describe innovation in the Taiwan tea industry?

Generally speaking, Taiwan is an environment suited for innovation in many industries – have you tried their whiskeys? Tradition is honoured and cherished but innovation is encouraged to keep ahead of the game. The history of Taiwan has a number of periods when the tea industry was struggling either man-made or natural events. 2019 Taiwan celebrates 150 years of the first ship that set sail to America and Taiwan was selling Taiwan branded tea and not sent back to China. Since that time, Taiwan has become THE world leader in Oolongs and while the market in Australia is still yet to fully understand the quality, the rest of the world celebrates their teas. Along the way, they can have fun and innovation with tea. Bubble and Cream tea – Taiwan. The aroma cup – Taiwan. Cutting edge brewing equipment and winning international designer awards IF for teaware. In the Research Tea Stations and tea farms, new cultivars are developed not only for hardiness but to create different flavours. Taiwan quality tea producers work towards that point of difference, their own statement and not being all the same.

The Steepery Tea Co. - Tealosophy Tania Stacey with farmer

If you want to taste the exceptional Taiwanese oolongs Tania has assisted us in sourcing please visit our online store.

And if you are a Taiwanese tea lover and are looking for beautiful seasonal, genuine and special Taiwanese teas make sure to have a look in Tania's online store Cuppa Cha

Photos have been provided by Tania Stacey.

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