New Hakka period drama to chart Taiwan’s historic tea trade

To replicate the prosperous Hakka tea industry of Hsinchu’s Beipu region in the 1950s, the Hakka Affairs Council (HAC) and the Public Television Service Foundation (PTS) will present a Hakka historical period drama called “The Golden Years (茶金歲月),” which will be the nation’s first drama delivered in the Hailu-accented Hakka language.

Dressing in 1950s Taiwanese fashion, HAC Minister Lee Yung-de and PTS Chairperson Tchen Yu-chiou (
陳郁秀) attended the drama’s launch conference together at Shin Hong Choon Tea Company in Taipei on Aug. 6.

The TV series is based on the life story of Beipu tea merchant Chiang A-hsin (姜阿新) and the rise and decline of his career, from becoming a business tycoon to a bankrupted trader. Despite the failure, the drama’s protagonist “Jisan” undergoes starting over again and overcoming obstacles to rebuild his company.

Other than reflecting the first wave of development in Taiwan’s tea industry after World War II, the drama depicts everyone’s endeavors to survive, from individual to family, clan, and enterprise; Taiwan’s business breakthroughs in the thorny international tea market; and the unwavering vitality of the Taiwanese people in face of suffering and hardships.

At the Aug. 6 conference, Minister Lee and Chairperson Chen talked about how the co-production began. Furthermore, Chiang’s daughter Chiang Li-chih (姜麗芝) and son-in-law Liao Yun-pan (廖運潘) were present to witness the official announcement of the cooperation between HAC and PTS to jointly produce a TV drama about their close family member.

Minister Lee noted that because President Tsai Ing-wen puts great emphasis on the promotion and preservation of Hakka culture, HAC has subsidized the Hsinchu County Government for the restoration of the historic site Chiang A-hsin Mansion (
姜阿新洋樓) with funds from the Taiwan Romantic Route 3 project two years ago. Now, the story about how Beipu’s tea trade and other Hakka industries linked Taiwan with the world will be presented by the new TV series.

Chen stated that the first time that HAC and PTS had worked together was the co-production of Hakka TV drama “Wintry Night II (寒夜續曲)” in 2003 while Minister Lee was serving as the president of PTS. Sixteen years later, the goal of this second collaboration remains unchanged to create splendid and high-quality TV series, she added.

“The Golden Years” is scheduled for a 2021 release on both PTS and Hakka TV.