International Women’s Day: Ms Yen, Owner behind an all-female organic tea farm in Taiwan
This is Katie Yen, who leads an all-female organic tea farm in Yuchi Village, Nantou County, Taiwan.
21 years ago, Nantou County was the epicentre of Taiwan’s greatest natural disaster since the Second World War - the 921 Earthquake - a magnitude 7 earthquake which led to more than 2400 deaths. Although Katie and her tea farm were fortunate enough to be safe, the road leading up to her farm was destroyed, and it was not until a year later that she was able to get to it.
It was during this time however, that she realised the power of nature. Being abandoned for a year, the tea plants not only survived but grew strong with intense flavours and an unusual fragrance. This amazed Katie and got her working on organic farming.
Doing something pioneering and different is never easy, and for the first 3 years Katie’s farm suffered immensely from poor harvest, expensive operational costs and a market that was not yet ready for a low-yield, high-priced product. Most of Katie’s clients left, which drove her to eventually look at the overseas market. It was also during this time that we met Katie. Touched by her belief in organic farming, we started importing her Osmanthus Oolong Tea and Red Jade with Bergamot, and each year the tea gets more and more flavourful as the organic farming practice starts to mature. In 2014, Katie also received US and EU organic certification.
Katie inherited her tea farm from her father at a very young age. Married to an alcoholic, she was then made to toil the fields and take care of the children all by herself. Now divorced and happily independant, Katie believes in the power of a women and employs a handful of female workers who take care of the entire production line from harvest to wilting, rolling, drying and blending.