Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pathetical Analyticals 2011


Am I the Only One Who Cares?  Probably

Local Color:  The Colors of Yingge: May 2, 2011
Well, it’s time for the Pathetical Analyticals for 2011.  I call it “Pathetical Analyticals” because I think it’s kind of pathetic that I have to take this blog apart and analyze every aspect of what happened in it for the year.  It’s not so much that I feel a need to understand why I posted one thing or another.  I posted what I posted because it was interesting to me and I figured, if it was interesting to me, it might also be interesting to some other people who don’t know that much about Taiwan.  But what is pathetic is my need to break everything down into some kind of statistic:  To try to gain some meaning for the blog by examining the minutiae.  I wish that I was above that, but, once again I have fallen victim to my baser nature and did it anyway, so what follows is Pathetical Analyticals 2011 or by the alternate title:  Am I the Only One Who Cares?  Probably

What’s it all about?

First a bit about the Taiwan Adventure Blog:  In the beginning it was written purely as an informational tool for my family and friends.  I was leaving my home country and didn’t want to be writing separate emails all the time to dozens of people who might possibly be interested.   It was intended to chronicle our life in Taiwan as well as the church we came here to build.  But after a while, I separated the church website from the Taiwan Adventure.  I needed a website for the church and I felt after a while I was duplicating my efforts, so I split them.  The church website is at www.pottershousetaoyuan.blogspot.com.   The Taiwan Adventure, became a stand alone culture, history, travel, and food blog.  It has evolved into what it is, and probably there is more of the evolutionary process that will still take place.  

Taiwanese Traditions:  The Planting and Growing of Rice:  April 4, 2011
I think the blog has improved this year.  It has a better look for one thing and readership has increased dramatically.  I have also included a weekly feature, Photo Glimpses of Taiwan, which features photos that have been used or supplement the photos in the blog.   The really great part is that my posts have been picked up by We Blog the World and Go! Overseas.  These two websites have enormous readership and I believe they have really helped to increase traffic to the Taiwan Adventure.  In addition to these we have been featured a number of times in the feed aggregation, The Best of Taiwanderful and iTainan and a number of others.

Eating My Way Through Taiwan:  The Stink of Adventure:  July 11, 2011
The Taiwan Adventure is based in Taoyuan City, Taiwan.  Taoyuan is a city of about 380,000 people in Northeastern Taiwan.  During the winter it’s cold and during the summer it’s hot.  The other two seasons are superfluous because it’s either hot or its cold, there are only a few days in between.  Taoyuan is not a beautiful place.  But the people are warm and friendly and if I have to live somewhere I’m glad I live here.  I can drive to a pretty place, but as I’ve always said, people are where it’s at.  The Taiwan Adventure is really my look at Taiwan.  Everything is examined through the filter of an expat American.  I really try to understand the culture, and the things that cross my eyes, but sometimes I’m wrong because I look at through the filter of my life.  I can’t escape that.  So it is what it is.  So far no hate mail, so I guess I’m on the right path most of the time, but who knows, there’s not a lot of love mail or comments, either.

Statistically Speaking

The rest of the post will be made up of numbers and stats; some of them may even be meaningful.

Readership

Total views of the blog this year:  26,167 
Average Views per month:  2365.4
The Taiwan Adventure has readers in 129 countries.

Taiwanese History:  Sun Yat Sen:  Sept. 13, 2011
Over the course of the year the readership increased from 1,150 readers in January to 2,897 readers in December resulting in an average monthly increase in readers of 158.  This is a net gain of 151% for the year.  Of course there were peaks ad valleys, some months readership went down only to rebound the next month.  One of the biggest affects on readership was the number of posts.  An increase in the number of posts resulted in an increase in the number of readers; correspondingly a decrease in posts meant a decrease in readership.  Lesson for bloggers:  Consistency results in higher readership.  If you post regularly readership will always increase.  Inconsistent posting results in lower readership. 

The RSS feed did well as well.  We added the site to Feedburner in February and in 10 months there were 2,433 views on the feed with 917 clicks back to blog.  That means that about 38% of the views resulted in readers being driven to the blogsite.  This is the main purpose of a feed so that people will see your posts and want to go back to the original to see others.

Posts

This year I posted 42 different posts under 8 category headings.  I don’t usually break them into categories in the way a wordpress blog does.  Actually I categorize them through the use of a “header” in the title.  I use eight headers

Uncategorized
Taiwanese History
Taiwanese Traditions
Cultural Unawareness
Traveling with M13
Taiwan Travelogue
Random Asianess
Eating My Way Through Taiwan

Local Color:  Taoyuan City Ghost Festival Parade:  August 23, 2011
Something new this year is the use of a header titled Local Color.  The Local Color posts are photo essays of some place or topic I find visually interesting.  Rather than describe them, I just take a series of photos and include them.

Most are self-explanatory.  Cultural Unawareness are my mistakes at the culture that resulted in funny or embarrassing moments.  I’m hoping to phase this out this year; that it will become obsolete.  Traveling with M13. Mordeth13 is a friend of mine, and I have done a few things with him and his family.  These posts are the result of some interaction with him.  I hope to do more of these in the nest year. 

Top Five Posts

1.  Taiwanese History:  Sun Yat Sen           
     Total views since September 1,059 or 353 per month. 

2.  Taiwanese Traditions:  The Dragon Boat Festival             
     Total Views since June 2010 3,112 or 172 per month.

3.  Traveling with M13:  Custom Scooters of Taiwan             
     Total views since February 501 or 50 per month

4.  Taiwan Travelogue: The National Palace Museum            
     Total views since March 437 or 49 per month

5.  Taiwanese History:  Double Tenth day            
     Total views since October 2010 468 or 33 per month.

Sun Yat Sen is considered to be the Father of Modern China.  This post has been the single most popular post I have written on this blog.  It will be interesting to see if it has the kind of staying power that the Dragon Boat Festival has had. The Dragon Boat Festival is still popular after 18 months.

Taiwan Travelogue:  The North Coast:  September 20, 2011
My Personal Favorite Posts

For various reasons I like the following posts the best.  I think they are the best written and I’ve had the most fun talking about them with other people.  They’re listed in order according to how well I liked them. 

1.  Eating My Way Through Taiwan:  The Stink of Adventure
     A very funny post on Stinky Tofu, that also appeared in Zite magazine for iPads.

2.  Taiwanese Traditions:  The Planting and Growing of Rice
     A post on Rice Planting in Taiwan, contains my favorite picture of Taiwan ever.

3.  Local Color:  The Colors of Yingge
     Photo essay:  I think Yingge is a cool place…It’s also very colorful

4.  Random Asianess:  Oh Sure, Now We Decorate
     Talks about decorating for Chinese new Year.  It is the next post after my      complaining about not decorating for Christmas.

5.  Taiwanese Traditions:  The Dragon Boat Festival
     I’m only including this because everyone else reads it.

Taiwanese Innovation:  Magic Click Shoes:  December 13, 2011
Top Traffic Sources

Of course some people, just go straight to the blog.  I know it sounds hard to believe but there are a few faithful readers.  In fact, 11% of the readers on the blog have visited more than 101 times.  So, I guess some people are regulars.

Google                         7,764 referrals
Expat Blogs                     299 referrals
Taiwan Bloggers              188 referrals

The Google referrals breakdown like this:

Google.com                  5,225
Google.com.ca                603      Canada
Google.co.uk                   579       United Kingdom
Google.com.ph                578        Philippines
Google.com.au                292        Australia
Google.com.tw                250        Taiwan
Google.com.sg                 237        Singapore

Top Keywords

Taiwan Flag                   416
Dragon Boats                182
Taiwanese Traditions     121
Mordeth 13                     99
Sun Yat Sen                   54

Other Places where the Taiwan Adventure can be found (or at least a link):


There are some other places but some of them are really temporary.

Announcements

www.taiwangongfutea.com
The Taiwan Adventure is now an integral part of Taiwan Gongfu Tea.  This company is a startup website to sell Taiwanese Teas over the internet.  The plan for the future includes franchises in America where Taiwanese Tea can be distributed to fine tea sellers as well as offering the Gongfu Tea experience in a comfortable, Taiwanese styled Tea Room.  In addition to the Taiwan Adventure there will be a blog about the types of tea grown in Taiwan, the methods of brewing, how tea is grown and harvested and other information about tea; specifically Taiwanese tea.  This blog will be appropriately titled The Tea Blog. 

Finally, The Taiwan Adventure won first place in the category of General blog in the popular vote at taiwanderful.net’s 2011 Top Taiwan Blog Awards.  We appreciate the support of our readers and would like to welcome new readers as a result of the competition.  Thank you for your votes.  We also want to congratulate the other winners.  It always amazes me how many excellent English language blogs there are in Taiwan. 

Here is a link so you can see the results first hand. Taiwanderful

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Taiwanese Music: Mandarin Pop


The Ugliest Band in the World:  Rolling Stones 2011
I was born a long time ago.  I grew up in the sixties and ran with a slightly older crowd.  So I was hip to the music of my generation.  I was a fan of the "British Invasion" bands.  I was into the Stones, Who couldn’t like songs like “Brown Sugar” or “Can’t you hear me knocking.”  Then there was Cream and “Sunshine of your Love,” or “White Room.”  Man, I thought Ginger Baker was the greatest drummer alive. I dug the Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Who are You,” and “We’re not Gonna Take It, (from Tommie),” among others.  Pete Townsend just wailing on the guitar, windmill arms, the whole thing.   I even liked some of the Beatles stuff.  But interestingly enough, as I examined the songs that I liked by the Beatles, they turned out to be songs by John Lennon:  “Revolution,” “Back in the USSR.”  Then there was Traffic, “Low Spark of the High-Heeled Boys,” “Shootout at the Fantasy Factory,” “John Barleycorn Must Die.”  Stevie Winwood was awesome, so was Dave Mason, with his excellent version of “Are You Feeling Alright,” at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Don’t forget American/Canadian Musicians like Neil Young, “Rust Never Sleeps” was an inspired album, but the really unforgettable stuff was “Cinnamon Girl,” and “Cowgirl in the Sand.  And Van Morrison, “Moondance,” “Brown-Eyed Girl,” and my personal favorite “Tupelo Honey.”  His vocal quality on those songs was excellent.  What about Leon Russell with his version of “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.”  Then there was the obvious hero of the sixties, Bob Dylan, anything with his name on it is worth hearing, from “Like a Rolling Stone” to “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”  I also liked the Christian Songs he did like, “Slow Train Coming,” and “Saved!” 

But those are days gone by.  It just isn’t the same to see old men strutting around on stage with their shirts off.  When did the Rolling Stones become the ugliest band in the world?  I’m sorry, but these guys are looking a little worse for wear, if you ask me, although I will say that I’m not so hot anymore, either.  We all age, after all, some more gracefully than others, I guess.  But this isn’t what I sat down to write about.  I was just just thinking about some of the old songs as I was sitting here and got caught up in the moment; reliving my golden youth.

Rick Braun
My tastes have sort of mellowed these days.  I listen to smooth jazz if I listen to anything at all.  Rick Braun, Norman Brown, Peter White and David Benoit are among my favorites.  I guess my taste in music has always been pretty eclectic:  Everything from Mozart to Michael Jackson.  I’ve never really been much of a pop music fan, though.  I’m still not much of a pop music fan.  The songs all sound sort of the same.  Geez, that’s the same thing my dad said about Rock and Roll. 

Maybe I just haven’t really put any energy into listening to them.  That’s really the issue.  That’s the same thing my dad was guilty of; he never really listened.  So I guess, I’m my dad; I could think of worse things to be.  In fact, my dad was a pretty great man.  My kids seem to enjoy the current pop music, so hey, it’s probably me.

There’s pop music in Taiwan.  It has it’s own style and some of it isn’t bad.  The thing that’s nice about it is that it’s pretty positive for the most part.  Good looking kids singing songs about life and love, that’s what all pop is about anyway isn’t it? 

Taiwanese young people listen to pop music from around the world.  There’s K-pop, J-pop, and American Pop.  Just think I traveled halfway around the world and I still hear Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” everywhere I go.  I have to admit that I guess I kind of like the Biebs.  I think he’s a pretty talented kid.  He’s also a good-looking kid, although he needs to bulk up a bit.  I think it’s amusing that everyone talks about how much they hate him and then his shows sell out in about seventeen minutes.  All of his fans can’t be under ten can they?

Is he or isn't he?  You decide
Anyway, I digress, some of the popular pop singers here are also, “idol drama” stars.  What’s an idol drama? Basically it's a drama or soap opera designed for teenage girls that star pop idols, like Rainie Yang, Hebe Tian, Ella Chen, Jiro Wang or any of theose guys from Farenheit.  All of them are in successful music groups or have successful music careers on their own.  The idol dramas are career builders for the idols and also sell a lot of advertising space for the TV network.  So everybody wins.  For more info on Idol Dramas see Speaking Chinese:  learning to Listen.

The T-pop is usually upbeat Kind of happy music.  I find myself humming some of it from time to time.  I’m sure that’ll send Keith Richards spinning in his grave.  Oh yeah, Keith Richards is still allegedly alive.  But there is Taiwanese Rock and roll of a sort as well.  Like Huang Yi Da, his music has an edge and is really pretty good.  So I’ll leave you with some samples of Taiwanese pop and Huang Yi Da.  These are some pretty typical mandoPop songs.  As a special bonus I included Dave Mason’s “Feeling Alright,” at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.




This is Rainie Yang with her song Ren Yi Men which translates to Free Gate.  I have no idea what this song means but it is a strange story  I can see that.  believe it or not this woman is 26 years old.  This is from her album Ren Yi Men (2010)



This is S.H.E. the initials stand for Selina, Hebe and Ella. All three of them have appeared in idol dramas. In the video Ella Chen sings first, then Hebe Tian, and finally Selina Ren. Selina was badly burned while filming an explosion scene in 2010. She is recovering and recently married.


This is Fahrenheit.



Huang Yi Da - Chou Nan Ren (The Jerk)  This was the theme song to Devil Beside You.  This guy has a lot of pretty cool music.  It's a little harder then the MandoPop stuff.



Dave Mason at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He's still got it. I'm sorry about Kid Rock's interference, nothing is perfect, as you know. Look who else is there. Steve Winwood, Tom Petty, Van Morrison, that bald guy from David Letterman, the ghost of Keith Richards, and Jim Capaldi, among others.

The next post will be "Pathetical Analyticals for 2011."  Then I'll write mostly about Taiwan again after that, I promise, sorry for this week's digression.  I couldn't help myself.


Photo credits: Keith Richards:  http://morporc.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/keith-richards11.jpg
Rolling Stones:  http://load.kovideo.net/s/raw/n/Rolling_Stones_deciding_50th_annniversary_concerts.jpg
Rick Braun:  http://berksjazzfest.com/mediapics2009/RickBraun.jpg

Monday, December 19, 2011

Random Asianess: Christmas Comes to Taiwan


It's hard to get a picture downtown without a taxi
Hey something’s happening in Taiwan this year.  Last year Christmas was a background noise in Taiwan.  Christians, mostly foreigner Christians, celebrated it, but other than that it was unseen.  Houses weren’t decorated and retailers acted like it didn’t exist for the most part. My kids were bumming out, “This isn’t like Christmas at home.”  I said, “Oh really?  Do you live here?  Then this must be home.”  They call me the great comforter and now you can see why.

But this year, it’s a whole new ballgame.  Christmas cheer has sprung up all over.  There are light displays, huge plastic reindeer, snowmen, Santa Claus and even Christmas music (albeit all in English). 

See what I mean. There only hard to find when you need one!
Of course, it isn’t a holiday here and everyone still has to work.  The only reason people are off for Christmas this year is that it’s Sunday.  Sunday is the day most people are off anyway.  People don’t exchange gifts; they think that’s just a part of American Culture.  No one you meet on the street says Merry Christmas.  It just hasn’t become a popular holiday here.

One interesting thing is that I’ve seen Christmas presented in a teenage drama as a romantic day:  A day for romance.  Why is that?  It’s because from a Christian perspective Christmas is about the love of God toward mankind.  This is the celebration of God’s sending a redeemer to redeem mankind back into a relationship with God, from the destruction of that relationship through sin.  But in Taiwan the Christian perspective is a minority perspective.  Only two percent of the population is involved in “western” religions and that includes non-Christian religions.  They only know it as a day of love and have made it a kind of romantic day. 

When I say Christmas has come to Taiwan, what I mean is that Xmas has come to Taiwan’s retailers.  It’s retail businesses that have really begun to decorate for Christmas.  I have this cynical idea that maybe; just maybe they’re looking to make a profit off Christmas.  Hmmm, does this sound familiar?  But you know, if the retail advertisers do their job, who knows in a couple of short years Christmas might be a big seller for them.  That’s what happened with Valentines Day in the U.S., card companies sold it big time and now just try and ignore it. I double dog dare you.

Following are jpg images of Taiwanese Christmas cards I’ve received:

 Oh yeah I forgot…I haven’t received any Taiwanese Christmas Cards.  I don’t know if it’s because Taiwanese people don’t send them or I’m just not popular.  My money’s on the latter, though.  How sad is that?  Anyway from the Taiwan Adventure 聖誕快樂 (sheng Dan Kuai le)  Merry Christmas.


































































I Guess Santa's Elves Don't Like Germs

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Taiwanese Innovation: Magic Click Shoes


The other day a friend of mine showed me a shoe that she designed and created herself.  I was amazed because I’ve never been the artistic type.  I can’t draw.  I don’t even try to sculpt, and the only thing I’ve ever painted has been the occasional wall.  So when she brought out this great pair of “kicks” and told me she designed them and made them herself, needless to say I was impressed.  (The only things I’ve ever made that were beautiful were my daughters, and even at that my wife did most of the work.)  She said, “You can make shoes, too.”  Then she whipped off her shoe and took it apart and made another one…in about 30 seconds.

It turns out that her father had an idea a while back and that idea has now blossomed full-grown into Magic Click Shoes.  He’s an inventor and apparently is interested in shoes. So he created and developed a shoe sole, on which you can change the uppers and have other designs.  Let me give you a scenario. 

Say you’re at work, and you’re wearing a comfortable pair of sandals, but that night you have plans to go somewhere.  You’ve brought a change of clothes, but rather than a different pair of shoes, you just reach into your purse pull out a new design and change the upper part of the shoe…it’s magic.  For men they can change from a comfortable beach sandals to a pair of dress shoes with only a few clicks.  What a cool idea.  The shoes aren’t just open toe sandals, they’re also fully enclosed dress shoes.  They make shoes for kids, too. 

The way they work is this:  You pull out the insole, through the back of the shoe.  Then you click off the upper, by pushing it in toward the center of the shoe.  Then click on the new upper by pushing outward toward the outside of the shoe.  Put the insole back in and like magic you have a new shoe.  The design is so simple that you’re children will have fun redesigning their own shoes.

The shoes are re-usable and can be changed hundreds of times.  They are also comfortable and attractive.  And best of all because of their unique design it makes owning a lot of different styles of shoes economical and space saving, they take up a lot less space than would be required for the same number of pairs of regular shoes. 

Finally, this is a great green design.  The amount of material necessary to make two pairs of these shoes is substantially less than would be required to make two pairs of regular shoes. 

If you are interested in the shoes you can contact Jing Yang at aliceaykimo@hotmail.com or telephone at Taiwan country code 04-2656-1115 or through me at cbanducci@gmail.com

































































Here's a video so you can watch how quickly the changes can be made, and you can have a new pair of shoes.


And finally, there's this:


Monday, December 12, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Taiwanderful - Taiwan Best Blogs 2011


Local Color:  The Colors of Yingge

Ah, the month of December.  December is a good month for me, usually.  It’s Christmas month.  The weather is starting to get colder.  The rain is starting to fall a little more often.  During December I’m glad I’m in Taiwan and not some frozen white place in North America.

But not only is this Christmas time and wintertime, it is also time for the Annual Taiwanderful.net Taiwan Best Blog contest and once again the Taiwan Adventure is participating.

Last year, we finished eighth in the popular vote for our category, but I think our performance has been enhanced this year.  The blog seems a little more professional and has a lot more readership.  I’ll start crunching numbers for the Pathetical Analyticals post for 2011, pretty soon.  That’s the way to really tell if we’ve improved. Of course, after last year efforts we can only get better.

Eating My Way Through Taiwan:  The Stink of Adventure
One of the many good things that have happened to us this year is that we have become a "Featured Blogger," for We Blog the World.  This is a fantastic opportunity for us.  Readership has skyrocketed to about 3,000 readers a month.  Many of the other blogs may think this is a small amount but we actually improved from an average of 1,090 readers/month to 3,000 readers per month. From 1,764 unique visitors to 10,463. 

The nice thing about the Taiwan Adventure is the diversity of posts.  They range from Taiwanese Traditions to Traveling with M13 to Eating My Way Through Taiwan.


Some posts you may want to check out:


So how do you vote?  Here’s a link:  Taiwanderful.net Taiwan's Best Blogs Contest just put an 'x' in the square next to The Taiwan Adventure Blog.

Traveling with M13:  Custom Scooters of Taiwan
Voting begins on December 11th and runs through the 30th. You can vote once a day for as many blogs as you like.  There are a number of excellent, informative and fun blogs and I would encourage you to browse around a little and vote for some of the others that you like as well.

Some of the other excellent blogs featured on Taiwanderful:
Random Asianess:  Oh Sure, Now We Decorate

Taiwanese Traditions:  The Dragon Boat Festival
The Daily Bubble Tea
David On Formosa
Bamboo Butterfly
The Wild East
My Kafkaesque life












Vote as often as you like.  Thanks for stopping by the 
The Taiwan Adventure.  Please Vote!!  Chris





Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Taiwanese Tea: Union Tea Company


The weather is finally starting to turn towards winter.  In Taiwan, it’s hot from April until about the beginning of December, sometimes even longer.  But here we are in the last week of November and the weather is starting to become like winter weather.  That means it’s time to start brewing hot tea again.

Cha Li Wang the Tea of Kings
I don’t like to drink hot tea in the summer.  I want something cold and refreshing, so I usually drink Cha Li Wang brand tea.  (Cha Li Wang means Tea Inside King).  It’s not like the tea that you find in stores in the U.S.  I like to get unsweetened oolong tea, but you can hardly find that in the States.  All the bottled teas have fake lemon flavor or too much sugar or Aspartame in them.  They have a sweet after taste.  But here you can get unsweetened bottled tea that contains nothing but that delicious Oolong goodness.  I love to drink that in the summer.  Think of it; a cold sweating bottle of clear crisp Oolong Tea without the additives and sugar.  It’s delicious.

But when the weather starts to turn cooler and wetter, I want hot tea.  That’s the way I started to feel last week, so I took a trip to Union Tea Company in Bade, Taiwan.  Bade (pronounced Bah Duh) is right next to Taoyuan City and it is the location of the Home Office of Union Tea.

Taiwan grows some of the finest tea in the world.  Conditions in the mountains are perfect for growing tea.  A good oolong tea is grown above 2800 meters (9100 feet) and the air temperature must fluctuate ten degrees Celsius between afternoon and night.

Buying tea in the U.S. is nothing special.  You walk into Walmart or your local grocery store and pick up a pack right off the shelf.  The tea is usually blended and in bags.  It’s also fairly low quality.  I have never liked tea bag tea.  But in Taiwan buying tea is special.  You walk into the shop tell the shopkeeper whether you want green, black or oolong tea and they brew a number of teas for you to try so you can select the tea you prefer. A trip to the tea dealer is a fun and interesting time.

The process of tasting tea is interesting.  First the shopkeeper pours hot water over all of the evaluation cups and spoons.  An evaluation cup is a shallow white cup.  It is important to be able to see the color of the tea.  Warming the cups up allows the flavor of the tea to be quickly released. 

Front:  Black Tea leaves:  Rear: Notice the way the Green Tea is rolled
The she will pour the tea leaves to be evaluated into a brewing cup.  Green and oolong tea are usually rolled into tight balls, while black tea is in the leaf shape.  When the vacuum seal bag of tea is opened sometimes the dealer will offer it to you to smell.  Finally one hundred degree Celsius water is poured into the evaluation cup.  And the tea is allowed to brew for a short time.  While it is brewing the dealer will take a ceramic spoon and dip it into the tea and offer it to you to sniff and smell the fragrance of the brewed tea.  As it finishes brewing she will spoon some of the tea into the evaluation cup and then use the spoon to hold the leaves out and pour in the rest.  The color may be evaluated at this point.  Black tea, which is called Hong Cha, in Chinese, (red tea), should be a red color in the evaluation cup.  Green and oolong tea will be yellow in the evaluation cup but can be more of a honey color depending on the oven temperature during the curing process:  The higher the oven temperature the deeper the color. 

Notice the beautiful red color of the tea on the left.
Then you taste the tea and decide which you would like to purchase.  The process usually lasts around an hour and is very enjoyable. 

I don’t think a company like Union tea can survive just on customers like my wife and I.  They sell tea in large quantities to exporters and the like.  In fact, on our last visit we met a man who is the biggest exporter of Taiwanese tea to the nation of Brazil, as well as Malaysia and other Asian countries.  If you’re in the market for high-quality tea, Union Tea has a wide variety of types and prices.  Good quality tea sells for about $30.00 USD for six hundred grams.  High quality tea can be brewed about four times.

"The Best in the World"  $90,000 USD for 600 grams
 Union Tea does have a tea that was voted, “Best in the World” in a competition involving tea from sixty-five countries.  That tea is available to be purchased for about Three Million NTD or $90,000 USD for 600 grams.  I love to drink tea, but I think I'm going to have to pass on the $90,000 tea.  

Keep Watching the Taiwan Adventure for an exciting announcement.

Michell Lu with the tools of her trade:  Union Tea Company





























Other posts you may be interested in:


Taiwanese Traditions:  Selling and Brewing Tea
The Union Tea Company Website

Friday, October 21, 2011

Random Asianess: Steak in Taiwan


I've written before, about American Fast Food in Taiwan.  But there’s something else that I haven’t written about and that’s Taiwanese restaurants that serve American Style food.  This is different than American food being served in an American restaurant in Taiwan.

In the US beef is by far the most popular meat that we eat.  But in Taiwan, Pork seems to be the most popular.  Why you may ask?  Almost all the beef that’s sold in stores here is imported from the US, New Zealand or Australia.  There are some dairy farms here, and I would suppose that they have some beef steers, although, I have to admit that I’ve never seen one in Taiwan.

So the reason it is difficult to find an American style steak in Taiwan is that people just don’t eat it all that much.  You can find a steak in American restaurants like TGI Fridays or Outback but rarely will you find steak like that in a Taiwanese restaurant.

My wife grew up on a farm in Ohio and they raised their own steers for food.  In fact, my wife would raise a steer for the county fair and she could be seen taking her steer for a walk through downtown Ridgeville Corners.  I don’t know how much weight they gained or if they won prizes at the fair, but they were happy steers, treated like the family pet.  Well, except we don’t usually eat the family pet.  But that’s another story.

There are a number of restaurants that serve steak in Taiwan.  But it is prepared differently and isn’t what we Americans are really referring to when we talk about steak.  As an American the definition of steak is a flat cut of beef.  New York, Sirloin, Tenderloin, Rib eye, Filet Mignon, you get the drift.  If you’re in the US you can ask your butcher, he knows all about steak and the different cuts.  But if you go to the butcher here and ask for a Ribeye, with the exception of Costco, or Carrefour they will have no idea what you’re talking about.  Because in Taiwan they just don’t cut meat like that.

One restaurant that is famous for serving steak is called Tasty. Tasty has a reputation for fantastic customer service, and the reputation is well deserved.  The service is impeccable, polite, responsive, attentive (without being obnoxiously attentive), and the prices are reasonable.  We had a 7 course set meal for $450.00 NTD (about $15.00 USD).  Salad, appetizers, antipasto, dessert, it was wonderful but the Steak just didn't look or feel like a steak.  It was cooked in what is called a speed cooker.  A speed cooker is basically a steamer.  So the steak was steamed.  It was also a different cut than the steaks we are used to in the US.  But it was delicious served with a nice pepper sauce.  There is a Tasty restaurant in Taoyuan City near the corner of Junghua Rd and Nanhua St, on Nanhua. (No.66 Nanhua Street, Taoyuan City) It is well worth trying, but not if you’re looking for a good ol’ American Steak.

There is a Taiwanese restaurant called My Home Steak at Chunri Rd near Chengong Rd.that serves steaks in cuts that Americans are used to, sort of.  The restaurant has an all you can eat Salad bar that comes with the meal.  And the meat is served with pasta and two eggs Sunny Side Up.  The salad bar serves a nice green salad, with Thousand Islands dressing or you can load up on Taiwanese foods like shrimp, fish balls, and other things like that.  A Sirloin Steak at this restaurant sells for about $280.00 NTD ($10.00 USD) which isn’t a bad price.  After your meal you can get a dish of frozen yogurt or ice cream. 

That same pepper sauce is available to put on your steak if you want.  All in all it’s a decent meal and it looks familiar.  But if you’re a real steak person, like you grew up on a farm and had a pet steer, that you eventually had to eat, you probably won’t be entirely satisfied.

Steak and other courses at Tasty


































Sirloin Steak at My Home Steak


























My Home Steak Chunri Road, Taoyuan City



























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Photo credits:  www.tasty.com.tw (For Tasty sign and Steak and other Courses)
Chris and Brenda Banducci

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cultural Unawareness: Just Love Hug Rally 2011


"Just Love Hug" rally September 24, 2001

Last week, for reasons that lie completely outside of my area of control, I found myself propelled into an extremely unlikely set of circumstances.  By unlikely, I don’t mean that the circumstances themselves were unlikely.  These things happen all the time.  By unlikely, I’m referring to my actual presence in the place where these circumstances existed.  My being in the same zip code with an event like I attended last week are about as likely as the spontaneous generation of cold fusion in my kitchen sink.  In fact, Evolutionary Biology playing itself out in my refrigerator is one hundred times more probable than me willingly attending something like this.  But I had no choice, well, in all actuality I guess that I could have refused to even go near the place, but it really came down to making a choice between offending people who have made it possible for me to remain in Taiwan, and me being a little uncomfortable for a few minutes. So after hours of serious deliberation, I decided that I would prefer a little discomfort to actually being on a plane headed back to California.

The Premier of Taiwan,  Wu Den Yi exhorts the crowd.
Where, you might ask, did I find myself?  At the Zhongli “Just Love Hug” rally.  I have to tell you, I like people, I love to talk to them, I like to spend time with them, I even look forward to spending time with people, I’m just not a big hugger.  I can’t help it.  It’s probably some psychological flaw, some hang-up left over from some moment of embarrassment or discomfort I experienced as a child.  Some Freudian interpreter might blame it my mother, although my mom is one of the few people that I actually don’t mind hugging.  It’s odd because I’m not a distant, cool, unapproachable type, but in reality, I only hug my immediate family and maybe my sisters, and a few close friends who expect it because of our Hippie days.  But that’s really about it.  I have always felt that hello, goodbye and a nice handshake were perfectly adequate forms of greeting and farewell.  In the late eighties I took a class where, at then end of the three day seminar, I was required to hug each of the seventy other participants in the class and about halfway through I was ready to run screaming for the door.  I was sweaty, rumpled and smelling like a combination of aftershaves, perfumes, colognes and body odor.  I was pretty well done with mass hug-a-thons at that point.  The idea of a mass hug with ten thousand strangers was more than I could bear.  But there I was with nine thousand nine hundred ninety-nine others listening to them countdown from fifty to the great hug moment. 

Counting down to the big moment
I was frantically trying to figure out how I could gracefully avoid embracing some well meaning person, intent on increasing the good feelings of mankind, bringing us all a little closer and demonstrating the love of humanity.  I mean really, I don’t want to hurt someone like that.  I really feel those are lofty and worthwhile goals, but how about looking into each other’s eyes and affirming our value as human beings, or a group smile, or maybe a little affectionate punch on the shoulder... but come on, not a hug!  Meanwhile, as I’m working all of this out in my mind, the countdown was plummeting toward the moment.  It was too late to excuse myself and go to the bathroom.  It was too late to pretend to be intent on tying my shoes.  It was too late feign a heart attack.  The count had reached zero.

Nothing happened.  Even those on stage, who were exhorting us toward this moment, were kind of shifting around uncomfortably until the moment passed.  Then it was over, I didn’t see a single hug exchanged except between lovers in the entire place.

The Hug-a-thon
Taiwanese people are warm, friendly and loving people, but they’re not real big on hugging strangers, either.  It was a little bit easier for me to identify with them, and relate to them after that moment.  I felt closer to the Taiwanese people after that then I ever had before.  In fact, I had good feelings toward mankind in general, I felt closer as a human being to others than I had before.  I even felt a deeper love of humanity.  Hey, maybe this stuff works.




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Photos for the Taiwan Adventure by guest photographer, Wayne Pelren