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I love this place

By Zhang Yi | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-08-03 09:12
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Hsieh Tung-ching, chairman of Zhangping Yongfu Taipin Tea

I was the first person to grow Taiwan oolong tea in Yongfu town, Fujian province.

In recent decades, I have witnessed many farmers from Taiwan cross the Straits to start tea gardens and build careers in the sector.

Before, I was a furniture manufacturer in Nantou, Taiwan. In 1996, I relocated to Fujian to follow my dream of starting a tea business on the Chinese mainland.

After traveling around with a map, I decided that Yongfu was the ideal place to grow high-mountain tea from Alishan Mountain in Taiwan as it boasts a similar climate and landscape.

I quickly settled down in Yongfu. With the support of local officials, I rented some land on the mountain and began laying roads, reclaiming wasteland and building my tea garden.

I encountered many difficulties. It was a barren mountain, so there were no roads, no water and no electricity. But for me, leaving my hometown and coming to the mainland to grow tea was fulfilling my dream. No pain, no gain.

Along with hundreds of local farmers, I camped in the wind and frost, enduring the harsh conditions. We built roads, diverted water, cut grass and cultivated the land.

To conserve water and soil, we decided to cut ridges for cultivation by following the mountain's contour lines. We started planting on Jan 20, 1997. After careful cultivation of only three or four months, I was surprised to find that the plants had sprouted.

The following autumn, we picked some leaves to brew tea and found that it tasted very sweet. The result of that trial encouraged me to start large-scale planting.

I brought the tea back to Taiwan for professional evaluation and was told that its quality was comparable to leaves grown on the island. That made me even more confident of success.

I invested more to improve the infrastructure of the tea garden, including constructing a reservoir, installing sprinkler irrigation, making drainage ditches and securing nets to prevent landslides and soil slippage. I also built a boardwalk so tourists could walk around the garden safely.

My tea farm has grown to 100 hectares, and I have also built two processing plants.

Drawn by my success, a lot of tea farmers from Taiwan have relocated to Yongfu to reclaim the barren slopes and grow tea. They have transformed the bare hills into beautiful farms.

Gradually, Yongfu became a lucky place for investment by businesspeople from Taiwan and is now known as "the mainland's Alishan Mountain".

I love this place because the land, full of vitality and hope, has supported my career in the mainland.

Hsieh Tung-ching spoke with Zhang Yi.

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