|Korean Tea Culture Tour – A trip to Hadong and Boseong|
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.
Central observatory of Daehan Dawon in Boseong Tea leaves in a basket
Hadong – Korea’s First Green Tea Plantation
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. Visitors will also find statements left by highly revered monks who praised the green tea of Hadong. 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 cherry blossom road below.
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.
Harvesting and Roasting Green Tea Leaves
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. The host table features green tea tools placed neatly in front of them. The host will begin the program with an overview of the tools, which include a kettle, teacup, tea pot, and towel. Sip the green tea poured in your teacup and enjoy the deep green tea flavor.
● Maeam Tea Culture Museum, a beautiful green tea plantation
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.
Tea field in Maeam Tea Culture Museum Tea room Maeseok
Green tea making
Boseong’s Daehan Dawon, the most beautiful green tea plantation in Korea
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.
Green tea field seen from the green tea observatory in Daehan Dawon
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. In addition to the field where green tea trees were planted on an experimental basis, green tea trees were planted at the foot of a mountain that had become bare in the war, while hundreds of cedar, cypress or other ornamental trees and trees to block the wind were planted. Today, the green tea fields are home to 5.8 million green tea trees. In many areas of the green tea field are paths featuring groves of cedar, bamboo, maple, or cypress trees. The cedar path, which begins from the ticketing office by the entrance, is lined with trees shooting up more than 30 meters towards the sky. Along the green tea plantation, the cedar path is one of the most famous landmarks of Daehan Dawon.
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. The green tea field observatory or the sea observatory past the cedar road gives a view of the extensive green tea plantation of Daehan Dawon, the thick forests, and the sea in the distance.
● Botjae Dawon and Second Daehan Dawon
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.
Green tea field of Botjae Dawon
Situated in Hoeryeong-ri, Hoecheon-myeon, 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.
Green tea field of Second Daehan Dawon
● Learning Tea Culture at the Tea Museum of Korea
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. A variety of hands-on programs like the tea ceremony program are 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. The museum also houses an arboretum featuring green tea trees from Korea, China, Japan, and India, as well as a tea making workshop where green tea making programs are offered to visitors.
Photo on the right provided by Boseong County Office
● Food Made with Green Tea
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 jajang-myeon (noodle dish topped with a thick sauce made of chunjang (a salty black soybean paste)), cold green tea noodles, green tea ice cream, and green tea tteok-galbi (grilled short rib meat 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 green tea jajang-myeon, cold green tea noodles, and green tea bibimbap. Dishes made of green tea can also be had in restaurants near any green tea plantation as well as in downtown Boseong.
From left in the upper, green tea cold noodle, green tea ice cream
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. The feed is given to pigs for three months before they are butchered. The pork of nokdon does not have a strong smell and has a more tender texture. The green tea tteok-galbi is a must-have for those visiting Boseong.
Green tea tteok-galbi made of green tea-fed pork