Taipei County is located in the northeast of Taiwan. It contains Taipei City, that mass of concrete and congestion which makes up the country's capital city.
Besides urban sprawl, Taipei County also has large agricultural areas. The mountains of Taipei County provide a cool climate with moist air and abundant rainfall. The soil is rich with organic matter, and this natural environment is very suitable for growing high quality tea.
Tea has been produced in Taipei County since the Qing Dynasty when it was planted with tea from China's Fujian Province. The Chinese tradition of tea production has been supplemented in recent years with new techniques that produce many kinds of tea with flavors unique to the region.
The most famous tea region of Taipei county is Wenshan district. Located on the southern border of Taipei city (it's actually part of the metropolis), Wenshan offers a refreshing change from the noise and pollution of the city center.
The tea-growing areas of Wenshan district include Shiding, Wulai, and Hshintien, but Pinglin town is considered the "tea capital" of Wenshan.
The characteristic tea of Wenshan is Baozhong oolong (also spelled Paochong). This is a partially oxidized tea that has its origins in China's Anxi County.
As a partially oxidized tea, Baozhong is classified as an oolong tea, but it's oxidation period is less than typical high mountain oolongs of Taiwan. For this reason Baozhong is often referred to as a green tea. True green teas, however, are un-oxidized (or very lightly oxidized).
Sansia is located in the south-western part of Taipei county. It has two main tea-producing areas in the southwest and the northeast. The southwestern area primarily produces commercial tea of average quality, but the northeast area produces higher-quality, hand-processed teas.
Besides Baozhong tea, Sansia Township produces Longjing green tea. It is the only district in Taiwan that produces this type of tea.
Longjing (Dragon Well) is a famous tea originating in China, but concerns over pesticide contamination in Chinese teas has made Sansia Longjing a popular alternative.
Longjing is a spring tea made from two leaves and the bud. It brews to a clear yellow liquor with a strong fragrance and bittersweet taste.
Shimen township is located on the north shore of Taipei county. There is currently about 130 hectares of tea gardens producing mostly Tie Guan Yin tea. This tea is produced from plants originating in China's Fujian province during the Japanese occupation (c. 1919).
Despite the close proximity to the ocean, the hills of Shimen protect the tea plants from the sea air. The unique flavor of Shimen Tie Guan Yin tea is due to the slow smoking it receives during the final stage of processing. It is the most distinctive agricultural product of this region.
The township produces about 60,000 kilograms of tea a year, which is sold on the local market as well as being exported to Japan, Singapore, and Malaysia.