Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The Boseong Tea Plantation

It's a famous green tea plantation in Boseong-gun in the South Jeolla province, on the lower western part of the Korean peninsula.
I have only seen the plantation on travel magazines, but being there for the first time was like inside a postcard itself. From afar, the rows and rows of the green tea plantation, which start from a valley below and ascend uphill, were like giant forms of the Korean rice cake, ‘ttoek’, in elongated forms of dark green, all arranged like frozen rounded waves.
I think everybody in the travel group was so enamored by the scenery that, for a moment, we all forgot that these plants forming a labyrinth on the hills of Boseong-gun are the green tea plants, famous for its fragrant aroma and therapeutic characteristics. We all wanted to stay longer to meander and enjoy the dream-like view from up the hill, but we had to attend a tea ceremony at the tea center.
After strolling along the rows of tea plants and taking a bundle of photos, we headed down to the tea center for a tea ceremony. With tea being a part of the Korean culture for centuries, tea drinking is elevated into an art form, complete with the intricate steps, utensils and rules on how to prepare, pour, serve and lastly, enjoy a hot cup of tea. I would encourage any foreigner, either visiting or living in Korea, to at least experience a tea ceremony while in the country. The ceremony would make one realize that in the Korean culture, a tea ceremony is not only about sharing tea as a royal beverage, but also paying homage to the drink while honoring those who are served with it.
After the ceremony, I had to buy three boxes of Boseong’s green tea, not as souvenirs (although they were really cheap), but as presents to my parents back in the Philippines, so they, too, will be able to enjoy the rich flavorful aroma of this famous drink, minus the tea ceremony, of course.
And we didn’t leave Boseong-gun without tasting a different flavor of Korean barbecue, samkyeobsal, one of my favorite Korean dishes.With all the tea available, the locals have come up with, you guessed it, green tea samkyeobsal. Unlike the other samkyeobsal varieties I have tasted before, this one has a hint of green tea flavor, bringing a different taste and aroma to one’s palate. Though we still enjoyed the deliciousness of barbecued pork, absent was the unwelcome smokey smell usually given off by the dish.
The four-hour drive down to Boseong was worth it. Green tea, barbecued pork and lots of postcard-ish photos - all in one Saturday morning.

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