Every year in early Spring the first pale green leaves from the tea plant peek their little heads, waking up from their winter sleep. The earliest leaves of the season are the most highly prized. Hand picked by sun-wizened local ladies, they are the most expensive. From early April through early September, the tea leaves are harvested in Boseong, a beautiful hilly area of Jeollanam-do (South Jeolla Province).
Tea drinking has been a part of Korean culture as far back as 661 AD, starting with the Emperor Suro who founded the Gaya Kingdom, during the Korea’s Three Kingdom Period. The seeds traveled here mostly likely from the Yunnan province, as Buddhist monks brought them during their travels.
Although the tea plants are grown in various parts of the country, the most popular is Boseong, where you’ll find the Daehan Dawon (a.k.a. the Boseong Tea Plantation).
I went in late April last year during the second harvest (there are 4 major harvests throughout the year) and watched the rural women picking those tender green leaves by hand. Here, I caught a shot from the top of the fields during their tea break. I thought it was ironic that they served the ladies some cream bread and cans of chilled green tea.
If you get a chance to visit Korea, I highly recommend making a special trip to Boseong. Not only will you get to see the gorgeous tea fields, but somehow drinking a cup of tea from the region creates a sense of calm and appreciation difficult to attain otherwise.