Old growth tea plants in between betel nut trees
I've been sifting through Taiwan Tea Tour photos and will return to blogging about that trip for a few days.
One of the most physically engaging aspects of the trip was the time spent near Sun Moon Lake. We did lots of hiking, much of it through betel nut/tea groves. These tea bushes are old, from the Japanese Occupation era in Taiwan's history (~1895-1945). Taiwan tea was a popular crop (black even!), but over time the market weakened and betel nuts became more of a cash generator. Fortunately, the Taiwan tea market is finding its strength in black tea once again and these tea fields are becoming lucrative. In the photo above, the darker green bushes are the tea plants.
One fine morning after an interesting breakfast of pesto sandwiches, hot dogs with relish, sweet potatoes and eggs, we set off. (The place we stayed, Black Tea Workshop - and I highly recommend it - was offering a 'European' experience. I think something was rather humorous in the breakfast interpretation.) Then we set off to climb up, up, up...
And past signs like this... It took me awhile to figure out that our guide (above) was banging his walking stick into the bushes not because it was great fun, but rather because it was scaring the snakes away. I'm not a fan of snakes and prefer they stay out of sight. I am very glad that they did.
We crossed a beautiful creek
On a rickety bamboo bridge...
And we all survived! (Note to my traveling companions - this image and the first one are actually from the day before).