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Taiwanese Tea Gardens and Plants

By devoting themselves almost entirely to the production of wulong teas, Taiwanese growers have managed to develop a tea culture that is specific to their taste and their terroir.

In new plantations, tea trees are spaced about 12 to 20 inches (30 to 50 cm) apart and rows are about 6 feet (1.8 m) apart. The ideal planting time is after Chinese New Year. This is usually a rainy season, which helps the roots of the young plants to take hold. To protect the tea trees from winter snows, especially in high-altitude gardens, growers plant high grasses along the paths between the rows of trees.

The age of the trees is also a factor that growers take into consideration. After the five years that it takes a new tea. tree to develop, it will bear its best leaves over the following 10 years. The period known as the "golden age" of the plant will then last 5 to 15 years. Tea trees are replaced after 30 years. The use of organic substances to care for the garden can help prolong a tea tree's useful life.

Growers must wait 45 to 60 days between pickings in order to obtain perfect leaves. Taiwanese growers usually harvest four times a year.