*MT* What are the differences between ‘small tea’ and ‘big tea’ in Taiwan?
‘Small tea’ refers to smaller, privately run, family farms, which typically includes the family’s residence on or near the land.
In the past thirty years, ‘big tea’ has expanded in Taiwan and refers to big pieces of land that are cleared and developed strictly for agricultural purposes. Most of these plots of land are developing in high elevation areas.
Production and harvesting methods are also distinct between the two. ‘Small tea’ refers to a more labor-intensive, hands-on process, and thus can only sustain smaller yields of tea each harvest. ‘Big tea’ on the other hand, is especially reliant upon the use of machines, and in this way, tends to lose a lot of the hands-on manipulation that is characteristic of the production of ‘small tea.’ In this way, ‘big tea’ is able to produce a much higher yield per harvest with a consistent, albeit perhaps diminished, quality.