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National Museum of Natural Science, Taiwan*
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Formosa Tea
The 2nd Exhibition Gallery, Life Science Hall
January 9 – May 7, 2013

A cup of tea would restore my normality.─ Douglas Adams
Formosa Teaea, the most widely consumed beverage in the world, is an aromatic beverage commonly prepared by pouring hot or boiling water over cured leaves of the tea plant. Tea has cooling, slightly bitter, astringent flavor that many people enjoy. Much has been written and said about the amazing health benefits of tea: aging, allergies, arthritis, bone strength, cancer, cholesterol, heart disease, and weight loss…etc., though generally these benefits have not been adequately demonstrated in humans.

Taiwan is historically called Formosa. Portuguese “Ilha Formosa” means “beautiful island”. This beautiful island creates a beautiful culture. That is tea culture. The National Museum of Natural Science presents the special exhibition about tea, aiming at providing a unique opportunity for visitors to further explore the world of tea and expand their tea knowledge and experience.

Formosa Tea
Stone Tea Ware from Tang Dynasty
According to Liao Zi-jun, the Museum’s assistant curator and the exhibition’s organizer, the history of tea in Taiwan began with the Dutch East India Company, also known as the VOC (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie). A VOC governor’s report of 1645 mentioned that two wild, indigenous tea subspecies (Taiwan Mountain Tea and Red Sprout Mountain Tea) were found growing in the mountains of central Taiwan. However, they had little economic value and were not widely used due to their bitter taste and thin, brittle leaves. About in 1730 or so, different tea varieties were imported from Fujian area and cultivated in northern Taiwan. A British merchant John Dodd discovered the Taiwanese tea market during his 1865 visit to observe Taiwan’s camphor industry. Dodd began exporting Taiwanese tea to America and Europe, which made Taiwan tea famous internationally and attracted more exporters to Taiwan. Taiwan’s tea industry thus established a good reputation in the world.

“For Taiwanese people, tea is not only a drink, but also a culture,” said Liao, “During the Japanese colonial period (1895-1945), the Japanese expanded Taiwanese tea farms and encouraged the cultivation of local varieties, and introduced the Assam variety to Taiwan as well. In addition, a tea research institute was established to advance the cultivation and production of black tea. In the 1980s, the tea-drinking population and tea consumption rose sharply in Taiwan as its economy advanced.”

“Coupled with the active promotion of tea culture, tea consumers began to place more emphasis on the art of tea and became selective about its quality,” added Dr. Chou Wen-hao, the Museum’s deputy director, at the opening reception, “As a tea lover, I’m proud to say that the Taiwanese tea culture is becoming more and more specialized and refined,” said Chou.

Formosa Tea exhibition not only introduces the history of Taiwan tea, but also displays the beauty of tea art and its difference between the Orient and the West. There are also many delicate and beautiful pieces of tea ware on display.
Formosa Tea
Oriental Tea Ware Provided by Tsai
Formosa Tea
Western Tea Ware Provided by Rose House

Yearn for LOHAS? If you want to experience a bit of LOHAS, the Formosa Tea exhibition is your chance!

Formosa Tea is organized by the National Museum of Natural Science in collaboration with Council of Agriculture,Tea Research and Extension Station, National Museum of Taiwan History, Rose House, Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House, OPS, Contemporary Ceramics Gallery, Suho Paper Memorial Museum, and Tree Valley Foundation.

Formosa Tea is proudly support by Taoyuan Tea Merchant Association, System Hi Enterprise, Taichung Tea Merchant Association, and Taiwan Tea Business Association Federation.

The National Museum of Natural Science also gratefully acknowledges the generous support of Tsai Rong-you, Chen Jing-liang, Kao Xian-chi, and many other people.