Monday, November 16, 2009

Tea Fragrance Resort.

A few weekends ago Dan and I had the opportunity to visit a tea farm in Nantou County. Nantou County is the only land-locked county in the country and is home to some awesome mountains, lakes, and jungle-like scenery.

In order to get to the tea farm, Tea Fragrance Resort, we had to take a for about 2 hours. Then after calling the resort, they picked us up and brought us to the farm. The call to the resort was a bit difficult as we experience first hand the frustration of not only cell phones dropping calls, but the language barrier. Next thing we knew, we were in a car on our way up to the farm. The farm is situated on a 400 meter plateau which we needed to climb…by car…kind of reminded us of driving in the mountains in PA– my ears even popped!

Upon arrival, we were shown our room – beautiful 4 person room with a private bathroom and balcony. When we had our friend call to make the reservation, we were told that the economy (cheaper) rooms were all filled and that they would give us their best room at a discounted rate (1/2 the original cost). We decided to take it, as we really wanted to visit this farm, however, learned while we were there that those rooms were not filled – still not sure if it was some thing that was “lost in translation.”
We enjoyed prune juice and dried kumquat soaked in oolong tea while we waited on our beef noodle soup for lunch. All were delicious. The prune juice is a little weird, kind of sour, kind of sweet, and the kumquat have a kind of cooling effect. Both are used to help cool the spice of the beef noodle soup.

Next we had the opportunity to go for a bike ride around the area. We saw fields and fields of tea, pineapple, and ginger. 70% of all tea, pineapple, and ginger are made in this county! The scenery was so beautiful – and the ride relaxing (except that we were on old, unreliable bicycles).

When we returned to the resort, one of the owners (it’s a family who run the farm) showed us cha dao – the proper way to do tea! We were even lucky enough to be taught in ENGLISH!

The next morning the staff at the resort drove us to the bottom of the plateau where there was a hiking trail. Unfortunately, the trail was a bit crowded and lined with vendors selling everything from smoked squid or sausages to pomelos and fresh corn. Lining the trail are also warning signs asking that you not feed the monkeys – we did in fact see one!

We were able to take a side trail and get away from the crowds and enjoy the jungle/rain forest like scenery. Toward the end of the trail, it turns to stairs, sometimes only wide enough for one person. These took a while to complete, but the view from the top was well worth it…too bad it was so humid and hazy! The temple too was a great site. Upon leaving the temple gates, we walked through town where we visited many tea shops and ended up buying a traditional Chinese teapot and all the necessary items to do cha dao with our friends back home.
Parades happen often here, and we were able to see one while in this small town…however, this parade included something we can’t quite explain.

After another delicious meal and some more tea, we headed back to Hsinchu where we enjoyed the remainder of our Sunday evening listening to some music downtown and relaxing at home.

(more photos in photo section)

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