At NTU Experimental Forest, Tea Leaves Picked from Treetops|少見掛繩爬樹採茶 樹下民眾感覺新奇


This is a rare sight where tea-pickers have to climb trees. National Taiwan University Experimental Forest's tea plantation has around 300 Assam tea trees aged over 60 years old. The tallest one is over 10 meters high. The tea leaves that are picked from the trees are not sold. Instead, they are sent to gene banks or used for research.


The tree climber holds the rope in both hands as he smoothly climbs up to the top of the tree. Once he's in position, at a height of six to 10 meters above ground, he begins picking tea leaves. Those watching him below are enthralled.

It's something new. They're so brave. We've lived 70, 80 years and we've never seen anything like this.

When most people think about picking tea leaves, the image that comes to mind is tea pickers bent over at the waist, as the tea leaves grow on bushes about waist-high. However, at National Taiwan University Experimental Forest's tea plantation, the tea leaves grow on Assam tea trees and are picked by tree climbers attached to safety ropes. Many of them have never done anything like this before. Some people even overcame their fear of heights to do this work.

(You're a girl, aren't you afraid of climbing so high?) No. I have a friend who was acrophobic, but overcame her fears after she got used to climbing.

We need to pick the soft shoots that are at the very edge of the treetop. That's scarier, because there's no trunk to step on or use as a fulcrum as you get closer to the edge.

The plantation has around 300 tea trees, and their average age is 60 years old. They were planted after 1956, and more or less left alone to grow wild. The plantation only began picking the leaves around three years ago. The plantation director says the primary duties of these tea trees are to provide material for gene banks and research on local soil conditions to gauge the effects of climate and environmental changes.

We're perhaps the only place in Taiwan with such mature tea trees, and they offer an additional source for comparison.

The original jobs of the tree climbers tasked with picking tea leaves were pruning the trees, monitoring the ecology, or teaching field training and survival education. Being a tree climber requires skills and courage. Every year, they pick about 10 catties worth of tea leaves. The tea leaves are not sold. Instead, they are used for research and industrial development projects.



雙手抓著繩索,攀樹師熟練的靠著身體力量往樹冠爬,在六到十公尺高的樹上,開始進行採茶作業。樹下的民眾覺得很新奇。

民眾表示:「新鮮,好偉大喔!我們長了八十歲、七十歲,都沒有看過(樹上採茶)。」

一般人印象中,採茶都是彎腰低頭採,樹高不過腰,但在台大實驗林台大茶園裡的阿薩姆茶樹,卻得綁上安全繩索上樹採,這對攀樹師來說,也是全新的體驗,有些女生克服懼高也來參加採茶行列。

攀樹師表示:「(女生這樣爬上去你不會怕嗎?) 不會耶,而且我有個朋友,她本來懼高,但是後來爬習慣就不怕了。」

攀樹師表示:「要採茶葉的話,我們就一定要到嫩芽,樹冠的最邊邊,然後會比較可怕,因為愈邊邊,就愈沒有什麼樹幹可以踩,或是當支點。」

園區裡300多棵的茶樹,平均樹齡60多年,民國45年種植後,一直採取半野生管理,這兩三年才開始摘採製茶,台大茶園主任指出,這些茶樹主要的任務,除了基因保種,在學術上也可以作為當地氣候土壤及環境變遷的對照。

台大實驗林台大茶園主任 魏強表示:「可能全台灣只有我們這個地方,茶樹這麼大啦!也有多一個種源庫來比較。」

這群採茶葉的攀樹師,原本的工作內容是修剪樹木、生態觀察或是野訓求生教育,但摘採這裡的茶葉需要的除了技術還有勇氣,每年茶葉產量最多不超過10台斤,並不對外販賣,純粹作為學術研究及產業發展計劃之用。

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