Green tea growing on the mountain. They were going to be picked the next morning. Only the newest and tender leaves are picked in the moist mountain mist. Then they’re dried for tea. They harvest once per season with the spring season being the best.
Peaches wrapped and ready for sale. Each is individually wrapped by hand, the point pointing upwards, resting on their sides. I know, because I tried to help by wrapping a box, felt incredibly proud until they smiled and redid them all to make them look prettier. Boxes supposedly sell for about 800NT (over $20 US) in Taipei. The farmer gets 250NT per box.
Cutting the paper bags off of the peaches. They use the bags to keep insects away and then after taking the peaches out of them, will use the emptied bags as stuffing to cushion each box.
One of the few unbagged peaches ripening on the tree.
Bamboo in the sun.
So my room smells of peaches ripening in a cardboard box, thanks to the generosity of my aunt, her sister, her sister’s friend, and her sister’s friend’s cousin who owns a peach farm on a mountain called the “sound of jade” or something like that in translation.
The peaches we picked were small, blushing through their white paper bags, even if they weren’t all completely ripe yet. There were also large ones that solidly fit in the palm. They told me those weren’t as sweet, but they were sweet indeed.
Peaches in Chinese are tao tze and my mother’s familiar with the green crispy kind that I buy off the side of the street soaked in saltwater which somehow brings their sweetness into relief. The sort we picked, warm from the sun, some of them so soft that a touch would bruise them or leave their skin peeling, were more like the kind I am used to from the US. People here tend to eat them with the skin peeled. I didn’t.
I love picking fruit.
We also picked long chu tsai, dragon’s beard vegetables which grow like a vine along the ground, shoots curling. Those require much more bending over, while the peaches were more of a stretch. The vegetables were very good at my aunt’s mother’s dinner where their clan of six families bought out the main area of a karaoke restaurant and worked the over-echoing speakers enthusiastically. When the echo is turned up that substantially, it is… shall we say, rather unforgiving.
In order to get to the farm, we drove past groves of mangoes still green but blushing, and blue plastic bagged banana bunches hanging from the trees. We also did a quick stop in at a religious Christian sect’s “Mount Zion” which sells organic beauty care and jewelry.
I had fun with my cousin, fighting over the comforters, pillow fighting, and teaching her the tradition of gargling “The Star Spangled Banner” which my other cousin and I used to do in our PJs when she still wore braces, and I still had bangs.