Guest Post by Liz White:
I guess you could say I’m a bit of a country bumpkin. The city is always fun and exciting, but for me, there is just something about the rural areas that make me feel alive, fully embracing the carpe diam inside me. So what happens when you mix my love of non-urban areas with my love of tea? You get another amazing part of this trip! We spent about 4 days with Mr. Hong, a master of tea production in South Korea. on our first day with Mr. Hong it was raining, so we were unable to pick tea until later in the day. We decided to have a low key and relaxing morning and climb a mountain. I wish I could describe the view, but no words in the English language would do it justice, and my Korean is a tad sub par. After our climb, the sun came out so we were off to the tea fields! We picked tea for a few hours, but only picked about 1% of what the helmay were able to pick. It was really cool to be able to interact with tea in its rawest form. And of course seeing and experiencing all of the work that goes into just the procurement of the tea laves made each cup we drank at Mr Hong’s all the more delicious.
After dinner we went back to Mr Hong’s house and were able to actually assist in the production of tea. After putting on enough protective gear to make us suited for surgery, we started turning the raw leaves into this beloved beverage we love to learn about. It was awesome. We alternated between rolling the tea and tossing it in the shaqing. It was hard work, but so cool to be part of the process. We did this for about. 2 hours, and then were off to bed to prepare for our next day.
Our next day was our first true tea picking day. We woke up at 6 and were picking tea by 7. I have to admit, spending 5 hours shoulder-deep in a tea field was definitely a high of my trip. I just gained such a higher appreciation for every tea leaf. After a quick lunch we were back in the fields for a few more hours of picking. Although I have to be honest I was exhausted after so much tea picking, but picking tea all day is probably the most enjoyable way to wear yourself out.
This portion of the trip was so cool. The whole time I just kept thinking “this is why we are here.” I love learning about Korean culture and trying new and exciting foods, but there is something about seeing a tea from start to finish that just gives me goosebumps. After months of studying and analyzing different teas, we finally did it, we created this drink that we love so much. Signing off with a much higher appreciation for each and every sip of tea,