- Before 1850
- 1st Generation
- 2nd Generation
- 3rd Generation
- 4th Generation
TEA MASTER Hon Chen 陳紅
LOCATION Fujian, China
A family business In China before 1850
Over the course of several generations during the 19th century our ancestors began cultivating tea in the Fujian provence of southern China. Our great-great-grandfather, Hon Chen, was a well-known tea master in the local Fujian community having passed on the family tradition and business to his children and families. To further expand the family’s tea business, the off springs had already fortuitously ventured to Taiwan so when communists eventually took over China, the Chen clan was able to escape to their new tea business. Applying the family’s long standing traditions of growing, harvesting and production of Wu-Yi tea plants and Oolong tea the business has flourished and developed globally.
Li Chen 陳理(1881 - 1954)
The Move To Taiwan, And A First Investment Of Two Chinese Dragon Dollars
Hon Chen’s son, Li Chen, ventured to Taiwan in search of new land to continue to develop the family tea business. Li Chen purchased his first tea garden on the mountainside of Taipei for 2 Dragon Dollars (the ancient Chinese currency).
During this era, Taiwan was considered a land of new opportunities, and thanks to its climate, just about anything and everything grew naturally and beautifully. For Li, it quickly became apparent that Taiwan’s geography and weather would provide the perfect growing environment for tea. While a variety of wild tea species were native to the region, Li decided to cultivate non-native Oolong and Wu-Yi tea from China, taking advantage of the ideal weather and soil combinations to produce top quality tea.
For Li, starting new growth in a foreign land was no small feat. With the passion and hope that most immigrants embraced, Li slowly built his tea garden, and, together with other tea masters from Fujian, established himself as an expert; building a solid foundation for the tea industry in Taiwan.
Jeder Chen 陳居德 (1898- 1971)
Dong Lai Chen 陳冬來 (1917-1985)
LOCATION Taiwan Taipei Mountain
Tea-Making During The Period Of Japanese Occupation
For Li’s son, Jeder Chen, the Sino-Japanese Wars caused him to move the family’s tea production to another side of the Taipei Mountain. 瑞芳鎮甘平里明登路. Life under the harsh and crude Japanese rule which lasted from 1895 until the end of the Second World War 1945 brought about extreme hardship and fear. In an effort to flee, Jeder Chen sought refuge for himself and his family in a hide out in the deep mountain region of Yi lan, just south of Taipei on the eastern side of Taiwan. There, Jeder started to plant in the area that is today home to a series of tea shops in the scenic surroundings of Wo-Lou Ken. During this era, the community became very tight-knit; everyone worked together and traded amongst themselves to overcome the hardship and insecurity they faced.
Dong Lai Chen was the second wife of Jeder Chen, and she relocated to Wu-Lou Ken Mountain with him, where they raised 7 children. Jeder Chen eventually moved back with his first wife, leaving Dong Lai Chen to care for their young children on the mountainside alone. Dong Lai Chen became the first female tea master in the region. Dong Lai Chen and her children did what they could on the plantation in order to survive. As a female tea master, she had to work harder to gain the respect and admiration of other tea masters, a field that was dominated by men.
1942- Moving back to the village
In 1942, with the Japanese occupation almost over Chiang Kai-Shek along with his army (KMT) fled to Taiwan. He,assumed power in Taiwan, and focused on developing Taiwan’s infrastructure in the hope to defeat communist China. With the fear of poverty no longer looming over Taiwan, vigor was restored. Dong Lai’s tea plantation entered into full-production, with tea becoming extremely important for trade. Oolong tea from Taiwan became one of the most well known and regarded tea in the world.
Fu Chen 陳富(1929 - Present)
LOCATION Yi-Lan, Taiwan
The Establishment Of A Retail Store
Growing up with the tea garden, Dong Li’s seven children were introduced to the art and business of tea cultivation at an early age. This instilled a passion that lives on until today, with five of Dong Li’s children and two grandchildren continuing to build upon the family’s legacy into the fourth generation as artisans in the Taiwanese tea industry. Early on, Dong Li’s eldest daughter, Fu Chen, took on the majority of responsibilities over the garden, while also helping to raise her siblings. Thanks to her father- Jeder Chen, and other tea masters who migrated to the region, Fu Chen grew up steeped in the stories, knowledge and experiences of an established family tradition. Today, Fu Chen, the second female tea master in the family, continues the art of tea cultivation that has been embraced and perfected by her family since the middle of the 19th century by working as a tea expert, an art that has been infused by her own way of living.
1979 Opening of the first retail store- Long Yuan Tea Shop in Wu Lou Ken
Thanks to Fu Chen’s husband SeHo Fang had a vision for tea branding. The family’s business expanded from being a tea plantation into a retail store. SeHo named the shop Long Yuan, phonetically similar to “dragon dollar” in Chinese, paying homage to how the family’s tea business in Taiwan started with two Long Yuan (dragon dollars). Since the store opened in 1976, Fu Chen’s exceptionally rich-flavored teas have won regular tea submission competitions and many highly ambitious live tea competitions. Also, since the store opened, Fu Chen’s daughter, Ai Fang, third female tea master in the family, has been involved in the business, enabling Fu Chen to pass on her valuable knowledge of tea onto the family’s fourth generation of tea makers.
Ai Fang 方堅愛 (1964-present)
Kuei Fang 方桂珍 (1978 – Present)
LOCATION Yi-Lan, Taiwan .
The Family’s Tea Business Continues To Evolve
Raised by Fu Chen, Ai is not only committed to the perfection of tea making, she is also deeply connected to Buddhism. Growing up in a modern world, Ai has developed a modern view of tea culture. Her mission of sharing the purest premium tea with the world has led her to develop numerous innovative products that offer a healthy and balanced choice for consumers. Ai devotes considerable time towards educating customers from how to tell pure tea with tea that has additive to anything related to tea making. She wants to create an open platform for anybody who is interested in learning about tea.
Today, all of Jhentea’s whole-leaf teas are produced by either Fu Chen or Ai Fang.
2010 – the creation of Jhentea - Kuei Fang 1978 –Present
For the past 15 years, Kuei, Fu Chen’s youngest daughter, has been a professional artist in New York City. While traveling the world, working in design and branding, and away from her hometown, Kuei realized that the tea her mom and sister were producing was a precious gift: not only is it one of the best teas in the world, but the personal care, expertise and cultivation that are given to the family’s product rarely exists in today’s fast-paced world.
Kuei herself has witnessed first hand time after time her mother’s innate ability to not only identify the origin of the tea leaves but also the soil content in which it was grown, the surrounding vegetation and where on the mountain the tea plant was located. It is as if there is DNA in each tea leaf, and Fu Chen knows how to read them. In order to celebrate this special gift, as well as share her Mothers gift with a wider audience, Kuei commenced upon a rebranding project in 2010 that encompassed a redesign of the Long Yuen tea shop and the launch of Jhentea. It is Kuei’s hope that through these steps that her mother’s exceptional tea knowledge will reach a wider audience and that more people will come to appreciate and enjoy the world of tea.