Asians love tea, and Koreans are no exception. With a long history of tea, Jeju’s location as the south coast of the Korean peninsula provides a moderate climate and good quality water for tea cultivation. For this reason, Jeju is one of the country’s most famous regions for producing tea. And building on this strong reputation, a range of tea museums have sprung up on the island.
O’sulloc Tea Museum
The O’sulloc Tea Museum, the first tea-themed museum in Jeju, is located at the Seokwang tea plantation in Seogwipo City.
Kim Cheong Hui, better known as Chusa, is a representative calligrapher and scholar of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), grew tea plants here while exiled on Jeju in the mid 1800s.
In 1983, Amore Pacific Corporation started cultivating 1 million tea plants. The company opened the O’sulloc Tea Museum at the tea farm and made admission free to everyone. The museum has since gained far-reaching fame.
The museum building is designed in a remarkable way — shaped like a green tea cup.
In the tea culture room, you can witness the history of tea by examining the excavated tea-related artifacts that are on display. From its rooftop, a beautiful vista ranges as far as the eye can see.
Jeju tea plants grow mostly along Mt. Halla’s lower slopes where snow lies for a long period of time. In the spring, the tea plantation is awash in a rich yellow-green.
Tip The tea farm is particularly spectacular on a misty morning. If you get there early enough and take a morning walk through the fields, it will seem like you are walking through a fairy tale.
If you step into Daheeyeon, located in the Geomun Oreum area of Jeju City, you can find endless green tea fields. At the green tea farm, there is a museum, a thrilling zip-line ride, electric carts for transportation, and a wonderful cave café. At its entrance, a big teapot that pours water into a large tea cup catches the eyes of all visitors and is only one of the interesting architectural features of this specially designed tea museum. Daheeyeon farm covers 184,546-square meters so there are electric carts to help visitors get around. A one-hour tour through the farm on one of these carts is a refreshing experience. Traveling through the air on the zip-line is exhilarating, and even a great way to see the green fields which stretch out beneath you. The cave café provides homemade healthy snacks and drinks. It is also famous as a natural summer vacation spot because it is always cool inside the cave. Drinking a cup of coffee in the cool cave is a unique experience.
Tip It’s cold inside the cave café. Don’t forget to bring warm clothing.
Jeju International Tea Museum
The owner of the Jeju International Tea Museum is a real tea enthusiast. Over the years Woo Jae Min has collected famous teas and tea accessories from around the world to put on display in a three-story building in Shin Jeju. The exhibits are colorful and wide-ranging. Woo’s special view on tea is particularly insightful. In essence, he thinks tea does not have to be boring and bitter. He even developed a delicious green tea ice cream and a brown colored- puer tea. In the first-floor showroom, you can buy special teas and tea accessories. In an adjacent small café, you can sample a variety of tea ice cream. On the second floor, there are huge pie-shaped packages of puer tea and valuable gold tea. Exquisite tea pots and cups from China, Japan, and Russia are all part of Woo’s own collection. On the third floor, there are three culture rooms, including Korean, Japanese, and Chinese tea rooms. Each room is furnished with the respective countries’ tables and chairs. After visiting this museum, there’s a good chance you will leave with a sense of admiration for the owner’s passion, love, and study of everything related to tea.
Tip Take your time to appreciate the collection. And do not forget to visit the roof garden.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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