Posted by: Matt Kelley | 3 December 2008

Boseong’s Green Tea Fields

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Boseong’s Daehan Tea Plantation welcomes thousands of visitors annually.

(A version of this text aired on KBS World Radio on May 24, 2008.)

Tea was first cultivated in China over 2,500 years ago. But shortly thereafter, green tea was introduced to Korea, and the country has a long history of producing excellent tea (link to Korean tea ceremony).

The earliest mention of tea in Korea dates to the 7th century and Queen Seondeok (선덕) of the Silla Kingdom. And two hundred years later, tea seeds from China were planted at the foot of Mt. Jiri near the village of Hadong.

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The people of Boseong are rightly proud of their area’s famous green tea fields.

Among Boseong’s fields, the largest and most famous is the Daehan Green Tea Plantation. Originally planted during the Japanese occupation of Korea, the Daehan plantation was purchased by Korean entrepreneurs in 1957 and transformed into a major tourist destination. Today, Boseong’s tea plantations account for 40% of Korea’s total green tea production.

Although the best time to pick tea is usually around mid-April, the fields are gorgeous to view throughout the spring, summer and fall. My friend and I arrived at the plantation shortly before sunset, and the spicy scent of un-harvested tea met us long before we saw any fields. But after walking up a path lined by tall cedars we were greeted by a stunning sight.

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Despite falling out of favor with the Confucian court of the Joseon Dynasty, tea survived in early Korea.

In the 14th century, tea’s close association with Buddhism caused it to fall out of favor during Korea’s Confucian-influenced Joseon Dynasty. But even during this era, some Koreans still enjoyed tea and wild tea plants continued to thrive on the foothills of Mt. Jiri.

In recent history, the Korean way of tea has resurfaced, and today there are three famous green tea producing areas in Korea: Hadong, Jeju Island and Boseong. Among them, Boseong is considered the best. Boseong tea is known as yubi-cha, and is prized for its superior taste and scent. At the base of Mt. Hwangseong there are about 20 green tea fields that cover several hundred kilometers.

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When you get to the top, a nice view of the winding rows below.

Among the audible oohs and ahs of the visitors around us, we looked up at the verdant hill covered in winding rows of tea hedges. Rising some 350 meters at a steep incline, the slopes are covered in stripes of neatly trimmed tea plants. As we climbed farther up into the fields, special viewing areas provided even more spectacular sights. If we had arrived in the morning, chances are we could have had the added treat of seeing the tea rows blanketed in fog. I read (but unfortunately didn’t visit) the Botjae Tea Plantation, which is just another five minutes up the road from Daehan, and offers views of tea fields all the way to the South Sea. Another nearby place worth visiting is the historic town of Beolgyo.

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Local restaurants add green tea accents to popular Korean staples like the rice cake soup, ddeok-guk (떡국).

After about an hour of wandering among the winding rows, my friend and I decided to enjoy some green tea cuisine at a restaurant located near the plantation’s entrance. Since we are well aware of green tea’s positive impact on physical and mental well-being, we enjoyed green tea ddeok-guk (떡국), or rice cake soup, slices of grilled pork called samgyeopsal (삼겹살) that was sprinkled with green tea power, and some delicious green tea ice cream for dessert.

Since it was already late, my friend and I decided to spend the night in Boseong. Thankfully, there are several hotels and guesthouses. After a good night’s rest, we looked forward to visiting the Yulpo Seashore early the next morning. At 6 am, the Yulpo Haesu Nogchatang, which pumps seawater from 120 meters below ground level, opens. What makes this spa unique is that the seawater is mixed with green tea. It sounded like a great way to start the day.

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A beautiful row of green tea hedges at the Daehan Tea Plantation in Boseong.

But don’t take my word for it! Each spring, nearby Hadong county hosts an annual green tea festival. Closer to Seoul, check out the world tea festival at the COEX center, usually held in June. map_boseongOr, visit the Panyaro Green Tea Institute in Seoul’s Insa-dong neighborhood, open year round.

Getting There:→ From Seoul, high speed trains leave Yongsan Train Station (subway line 1, Sinyongsan Station, exit #4) 3 times daily. Transfer at Songjeong-ri to the Boseong-bound Mugunghwa train. Total duration is approx. 4 hours. One-way fares cost 35,000 won for coach and 49,000 for first class. The entrance fee for the Yulpo Haesu Nogchatang is 3,500 won.

→ From Seoul, buses leave Seoul Express Terminal for Boseong’s Beolgyo Express Terminal. The 4 hour 40 minute trip costs 19,400 won each way.

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Responses

  1. this place is so unreal. i cant even imagine how they made and maintain it.

    very beautiful place! beautiful korea! i wish i can visit your country one day.

  2. Hi Dong Ho,
    Thanks for your note. Yes, Boseong’s tea fields are great. I wish I had visited in the spring, when the air is filled with the scent of green tea!

    Matt

  3. I love your pictures a lot. Oh! thank you for sharing such a nice part of your experience. Keep going and I will spend more time to see your blog.
    Thank you again;]

  4. Hi Cherry,
    Thank you for your compliment. I’ll keep going, so I hope you’ll keep coming back! ;)

    Matt

  5. Will the tea farm still looked green during autumn season (oct)?

  6. Hi Sorry to trouble you do you have any idea on the bus schedule for the Seoul Express Bus to Boseong’s Beolgyo Express ? or the website to check? I couldn’t find any schedule for Boseong on the KOBUS website. Planning to go to this beautiful place from Seoul. Thanks.

  7. Hi! am very much amazed on the greentea plantation.. hoping to visit one day inthat area. thanks for having this …MATT..


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