Photo: View of Tea Plantation
Hadong in Gyeongsangnam-do and Boseong in Jeollanam-do are two major hubs of green tea culture in Korea. Both are home to environments that are favorable to green tea production and as a result the two areas are the largest producers of green tea in Korea. Though both are representative of green tea culture in the nation, Hadong has a richer history and tradition of green tea, while Boseong is known more for the splendid views of the green tea fields and the regions culinary delights.
Hadong has a long history and tradition of tea culture. It is the first area in the nation where green tea trees were planted, and some of the original trees are still there today. Hadong’s wild green tea fields grow with Jirisan Mountain and the Seomjingang River as their backdrop.
Boseong is now the top producer of green tea in Korea. The green tea fields were picked as one of the “31 beautiful sights on this incredible planet” by CNN. In Boseong, visitors can also enjoy a variety of dishes made with green tea.
Photo: Central observatory of Daehan Dawon in Boseong (left) / Tea leaves in a basket (right)
Photo: First tea tree site and green tea plantation
Hadong is home to a 1,200 year old history of green tea plantations. The town of Hwagae-myeon in Hadong produces the most green tea in the area. It is also where the first green tea trees, which were brought in from China, were planted. The best way to enjoy a trip to Hadong is to start with a visit to the nation’s first green tea tree plantation situated in the village of Seogmun in Unsu-ri near the entrance to Ssanggyesa Temple. The Korea Record Institute officially certified the site as the “first green tea plantation site in Korea” based on the records of the Silla Kingdom (Silla Bongi) found in the Samguk Sagi* (History of the Three Kingdoms). Near this plantation are nice walking trails among the green tea fields. At the top of the field, there is a pavilion with a wooden signboard stating “Sibaeji Dajeong" (Garden with the First Green Tea Trees). From the field, one can also get a great view of Hwagaecheon Stream and the beautiful Simni (10ri) Cherry Blossom Road below.
* Samguk Sagi: Historical records of the Three Kingdoms of Korea written by Kim Busik by order of the king during the Goryeo Era. The Silla Bongi refers to the historical records of Silla, which was one of the Three Kingdoms.
Photo: Hadong Tea Culture Center (top) / Tea Etiquette Ceremony held in Hadong Tea Culture Center (bottom)
In Hadong, a variety of green tea experience programs are available to visitors. Particularly noteworthy is the Green Tea Culture Center situated by the entrance to Ssanggyesa Temple. The center features the Green Tea Exhibition Hall, which offers a variety of information on the history of green tea culture, and the Green Tea Experience Hall, which has many hands-on programs using green tea. The Green Tea Exhibition Hall exhibits materials and relics on the history of green tea in Korea, the varying green tea culture throughout its time in Korea, and the uniqueness of green tea in Hadong.
The Green Tea Experience Hall allows visitors to experience roasting green tea and a green tea ceremony. The roasting program highlights the area’s traditional way of making green tea and how it is brewed. The program includes harvesting, picking, roasting, and rubbing the tea leaves. The harvesting takes place in the field right behind the Green Tea Culture Center. The leaves that are harvested are the two leaves in the youngest stem. After harvesting, the best leaves are picked and then placed in a cauldron for roasting, which is done in a traditional manner without adding water and roasting just to a point where the leaves do not burn. A big cast-iron cauldron is heated between 250 and 350 degrees Celsius, and then one to three kilograms of leaves are placed and roasted quickly by hand. Once the leaves are roasted, they are placed onto a straw mat for cooling and are then rubbed. Rubbing helps cool down the leaves and facilitates the brewing process.
On the third floor, visitors can experience a green tea ceremony that includes green tea etiquette and ways to drink the tea, with the required tea tools placed neatly on the host table.
Photo: Maeseok Tea House (left) / Making tea experience (right)
The top eight green tea sites in Hadong are referred to as the Dawon Eight Scenic Views. Situated in Agyang-myeon, Hadong-gun, the Maeam Tea Culture Museum is one of these eight sites. The museum offers hands-on programs such as tea making and features a tea plantation, tea room, and museum. Building of the plantation began in 1963 and since that time, the area was carefully tended into an eco-friendly plantation using natural farming methods. Unlike other tea fields that are established at the foot of Jirisan Mountain, this plantation was established in an expansive field in Agyang-myeon.
At the plantation, there are walking paths along the welcoming landscape. At a spot overlooking the plantation, there is a tea house called Maeseok. Tea grown in the plantation is served there and visitors can enjoy a calming atmosphere over tea. Tea starts at 1,000 won but is unlimited, and the cups and any other utensils used must be washed cleanly and put away.
Photo: Green tea field seen from the green tea observatory in Daehan Dawon
The Daehan Dawon in Boseong, Jeollanam-do is the most beautiful green tea plantation in Korea. Not only was it selected as one of the top 50 places to visit in Korea by CNNgo, it was also picked as one of the 31 beautiful sights on the planet by CNN. The endless slopes of beautiful tea trees presents visitors with one of the most picturesque scenes in all of Korea.
The first green tea trees were planted here in 1937. Following a period of devastation during the Korean War, the plantation went through a period of restoration in 1957. Today, the green tea fields are home to green tea trees. In many areas of the green tea field are paths featuring groves of cedar, bamboo, maple, or cypress trees.
To look around Daehan Dawon, follow the paths extending out from the plaza where there the rest area is. People can climb up the central stairway to go up to the central observatory or follow the cedar path to go to the green tea field observatory or the sea observatory. From the green tea field observatory or the sea observatory, you can continue along to reach the cypress path through Palgakjeong Pavilion and the central observatory. Then, you can take the path going down to the plaza. The central observatory is the most visited place in Daehan Dawon as it overlooks the rolling green tea fields below that make the plantation so unique.
Photo: View of Botjae Dawon (top) / View of Second Daehan Dawon (bottom)
Besides Daehan Dawon, Botjae Dawon and the Second Daehan Dawon are the other major green tea plantations in Boseong. Both with beautiful green tea fields, the plantations are about 1.5 kilometers away from Daehan Dawon in the direction of Yulpo Beach. A road-side observatory overlooks Botjae Dawon. Being situated at the foot of Hwalseongsan Mountain, Botjae Dawon offers a unique sight of green tea plantations winding along the bottom of the mountain side.
The Second Daehan Dawon is situated at the foot of Illimsan Mountain. Though it is less well-known than Daehan Dawon, it offers a unique landscape where the extensive green tea plantations are surrounded by the mountain, making it different from Daehan Dawon or Botjae Dawon. The Second Daehan Dawon was also a filming set of the TV drama Summer Scent starring Song Seung-heon and Son Ye-jin where in one episode; Son is riding a bicycle on the road along the green tea field.
Photo: Tea Museum of Korea Interior
The Tea Museum of Korea is adjacent to the Daehan Dawon. Following a visit to the green tea fields, visitors can visit this place to learn about green tea culture, the life cycle of green tea and its history. In addition, a variety of hands-on programs such as the tea ceremony program is available, allowing visitors to understand and learn how to drink green tea. The museum has a number of exhibition spaces with the Tea Culture Hall on the first floor, the Tea History Hall on the second floor, and the Tea Life Hall on the third floor. The fifth floor is an observatory that overlooks the green tea fields and the area around the museum.
Photo: Green tea cold noodles, Green tea ice-cream (top) / Green tea jajangmyeon, Green tea tteok-galbi (bottom)
Boseong offers a variety of food made with green tea. These delicious and healthy dishes range from simple beverages to more filling meals like green tea cold noodles, green tea ice-cream, green tea jajangmyeon (noodles in black bean sauce), and green tea tteok-galbi (grilled rib patties). At the Dawon Lounge in Daehan Dawon, visitors can try green tea ice cream, a green tea shake, or green tea latte, all made with the green tea produced on the farm. The second floor of the lounge houses the Green Tea Restaurant, where visitors can order food made with green tea. Dishes made of green tea can also be found in restaurants nearby any green tea plantation as well as in downtown Boseong.
The green tea tteok-galbi is a unique take on this popular dish. Nokdon refers to pigs fed with a feed that uses roughly cut green tea. Pork meat of pigs fed with nokdon is known for not having a strong smell and has a more tender texture. The green tea tteok-galbi is a must-have for those visiting Boseong.
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* This column was last updated in July 2016, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details from the official websites before visiting.
<Last updated on July 25, 2016>