Tuesday 18 June 2013

Daehan Tea Plantation Boseong

The biggest selling point of the South Korea tour we joined was the unique itinerary that brought us all over the country, especially to spots not normally on the radar of other tourists. This included a trip to Daehan Tea Plantation in Boseong County in the South Jeolla Province, beautiful enough to have been used as a filming location for a large number of Korean dramas, yet far enough from the capital of Seoul that it doesn't get too crowded. 

What we weren't expecting, was being quite literally the only visitors there. We also failed to account for the weather. 

A picture we took of a poster of Daehan Tea Plantation

Japanese colonization and the introduction of large scale tea plantation in Boseong Country means that it is currently the largest tea supplying part of the country, responsible for over 40% of South Korea's tea production. Of all the tea plantations, Daehan, established in the 1930s, is the most famous, for the row upon row of tea bushes planted on terraces that follow the natural contours of the hills. It's apparently one of the most beautiful places to visit in South Korea, and a favourite among photography enthusiasts. 

The posters at our lunch stop looked like they'd been there since the 80s, but M & I took pictures of them as insurance. As you can see, the place does look quite gorgeous. In the sun. 

Another picture we took of a poster of Daehan Tea Plantation
Just our luck then, that we visited on a day with a massive downpour. Other visitors mentioned a lush canopy of cedar trees lining the dirt and gravel path that created a sense of romance and wonder, but what we saw looked straight out of a slasher-horror flick. With no one else around, and the café that had been promised us closed and shuttered, the whole placed felt vaguely ominous. 

Don't go into the woods!
We were lucky that the worst of the rain had cleared, but we were still faced with a faint drizzle and some rather oppressive mist. We could vaguely make out a stretch of the plantation as we went up the hill, but that was it. A tea plantation prized for its vastness, and vision up to 20 metres away at best. 

Unable to capture the expanse of scenery the plantation is so well known for, we settled for micro-level photos of the tea bushes. Here is a very complex spider web I found:

Wonder what happened to the spider
M, who has a much vaster reserve of patience than me, stood and adjusted her phone settings until she managed to capture a much nicer shot of the tea leaves. I was suitably impressed. 

Making our way back down the hill, we found that while the main café wasn't operating, there was still a smaller store where we could pick up teas to bring back, and what amounted to a shack was selling a range of refreshments.  

The Menu
I am ashamed to admit to being a green tea snob. I refuse to touch the stuff if it's been adulterated by things like sugar or milk. Green tea ice cream is anathema to me. M tried the ice cream, and enjoyed it, only to get a headache later because it was secretly quite strong. 

My cup contained a pyramid tea bag of their Woojeon tea, a mild and fresh-tasting tea made from the earliest buds that emerge after winter and graded the highest among all the teas. With a very limited amount produced each year, it's also the most expensive variety sold. It seemed almost a travesty to drink it out of a paper cup. 

The drizzle and mist continued unabated, even after we left the plantation, and followed us all the way to our next destination. Maybe one day we'll return, and hopefully it won't be so damn depressing next time. 

Jeollanam-do Boseong-gun Boseong-eup Bongsan-ri 1288-1

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