Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wandering: Taiwan, Tea at Maokong

 It was on a rainy day this January that my sister and I wandered about in Maokong, a small town in the mountains south of Taipei.  Tea is grown on the slopes and, during the spring and summer, tea houses open up their balconies for visitors to gather and talk, sipping fragrant tea for long, long hours in the afternoon.

 Tea plants in the drizzle.  The tea variety here is probably Gaoshan Cha, 
"High Mountain Tea," a type of Taiwanese oolong that is grown at high elevation.

Tea leaves drying under the eaves of a shop.

Tea pots are at the ready on the terrace of a tea house, overlooking the valley.

I did mention it was January, right?  We were the only people at Maokong, looking to sit out and drink tea.  It was cold!  This is my sister, trying to keep her fingers and face warm with her tea cup.  The sieve-tray is used to catch all the hot water that is first poured over and into the tea pot to clean it.  Hot water is also  discarded into the tray from the first brewing of the tea, which is considered inferior and "dirty" compared to the second brewing, which is drunk.

Kettles all in a row.

Next time in Taiwan, if it's less chilly, I'll be sure to make another trip.  For those thinking of visiting (and you should!), the gondola is shut down at the moment, but bus 15 from the Taipei Zoo is quite direct (take the MRT to the Taipei Zoo station).

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