I am a big fan of Brian in Jeollanamdo’s blog and he keeps his eyes open to all things Korea. I would like to think of him as the Dark Knight of the Chosun.
Here’s Brian and the LA Times
The LA Times continues its good Korea coverage as of late with a piece on Boseong green tea and the famed plantations.
The Boseong region is to green tea what the Napa Valley is to wine. There are hundreds of tiny producers in the area. Visiting the plantations, I was struck by the pungent aroma of the leaves even before I caught sight of the fields. But it was the view that took my breath away. The soft rolling rows of tea plants stretching up along the hillside stood majestically in the morning fog.
Tea plants grow like shrubs; they’re cultivated to grow only waist high for easier harvesting. If left to grow in the wild, the plants mature into tall trees.
Even with the plants at a comfortable height, green tea harvesting (like any farm work) is drudgery. I watched rural women, their hair tied up with scarves, their skin tanned a golden brown from hours under the sun, picking each leaf by hand, one by one, placing them in their plastic baskets.
Since higher-quality tea plants grow in higher elevations (the slower growth makes for a better flavor), the plants climb up the steep slopes of Boseong’s hillsides. The lower rows were the most popular, while only the hard-working few climbed to pluck from the highest-growing leaves.