Here we will discuss the Di factors that bring about good tea. The French word “terroir” is the best match for describing the use of the Chinese word 地Di in the context of Tian Di Ren. In On Food and Cooking The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, Harold McGee describes terrior as the following factors: “the entire physical environment where the plant (tea) is, the soil and its structural and mineral content, the amount of water retained in the soil, the plant’s elevation, the slope, orientation, the microclimate, the pattern of temperature, sunlight, humidity, and rainfall.”
We know that temperature varies from one elevation to another. What can be sweltering hot at sea level can simultaneously be briskly cold at the elevation of one mile. Regarding soil content, because of 岩茶 “Yen Cha,” we know that rock vs. earth is one aspect that contributes to good tea. Yen is a cool character. The character illustrates a mountain over a stone, indicating soil that is rocky. Any of the Di factors can vary greatly, even over small distances, such as from one tea farm to the neighboring farm. Different degrees of slope will determine the amount of sunlight as well as the amount of water absorbed by the plants.
In Taiwan, the influences of terroir are enjoyed by tea aficionados. Tea from Ah Li Shan, Li Shan , Shan Lin Xi, Dong Ding, Wen Shan, and Miao Li all express different sets of characteristics that appear year after year. Each of these areas have their own Di, which is reflected in the innate characteristics of that area’s tea.