I adore good quality tea! I’ve enjoyed some incredible teas from China, Japan, and Taiwan but hadn’t come across many teas from South Korea available for purchase in the UK, and so hadn’t appreciated the long and respected history that tea has in Korea until I visited Boseong, a key tea-producing county in South Korea’s Jeollanam Province.
Getting to Boseong Tea Fields
Boseong is within easy reach of Gwangju, Suncheon and Yeosu. We included Boseong as part of a self-drive itinerary using a rental car we kept for several days; parking at the sights we visited is easy and plentiful. You can also fly to Gwangju or Yeosu and book onto a day tour, use local buses, or hire a driver and car.
Our visit was in October, but the good news is that the beautiful tea fields are always green, so they are well worth visiting all year round. At some times of year they’ll be a bit lusher, and at other times, such as just after harvest, they may be a little less full. Either way, you’ll enjoy the stunning vista of the tea farms, planted in sinuous rows that curve around the hill-sides. You might also see the bushes when their little white flowers are in bloom (in autumn) – the last few flowers were still on the bushes when we visited.
Visiting Daehan Dawon (Green Tea Farm)
Although there are many tea farms in Boseong, the most popular for visitors is Daehan Dawon, which is the largest and is very geared up to accept tourists. The entrance fee is 4,000 won (about £2.70), local buses stop nearby the entrance and there’s also free car parking at the site.
The short walk from the car parking area to the gate takes you along a shaded path within a mature cedar forest. Once you’re inside, there’s a beautiful pond, a welcoming cafe-restaurant, and a shop selling tea and souvenirs.
Past this are the tea terraces you’ve come to see – row upon row of plump shapely hedges clinging to a steep, sloped landscape. Take the marked walking paths to explore, stopping to rest at the occasional bench provided along the way, or go straight up the stair case for a shorter but steeper route to the top.
Once you’re appreciated the spectacular tea fields, reward yourself with a cooling green tea ice cream from the cafe at the bottom.
There are many other green tea farms in the area, but not all are open to visitors. You can enjoy the scenic views of their tea terraces as you explore the area.
Botjae Cafe & Tea Market, The History of Tea in Korea
A great next stop, if you want to learn more about the history of tea in Korea and try a wider range of exceptional teas, is Botjae, a large modern building dedicated to Boseong green tea, that opened in 2015. It’s located within another tea farm just over half a mile (about 1 km) from Daehan Dawon, and admission is free.
Here, you’ll find a museum exhibit showcasing how tea is grown and processed, a cafe with the most wonderful views out over Botjae’s own tea terraces, and a shop selling green tea from across the county.
The centre also hosts special art exhibitions related to tea and local culture. During our visit to Botjae, there was a special exhibition of ceramics and paintings by a local couple Lee Haksoo (the potter) and Lee Hwayoung (the painter). We were most fortunate to be able to meet them, and let them know how much we admired their work.
Tea was introduced to Korea from China. Although there are historical records suggesting that the seeds of the tea plant were first brought to the country through China’s Tang Dynast, and planted at the foot of Jirisan Mountain in 828, local records show that tea was introduced to Boseong in 369, during Korea’s Three Kingdoms Period (18 BC – 660 AD).
Boseong’s geography and climate are well suited to growing green tea, with plantations in this region accounting for nearly 40% of the country’s total tea production. Temperatures, rainfall and soil create an optimum environment with frequent misty weather providing water as well as shade from harsh sunlight – essential to develop flavourful amino acids within the leaves.
Traditionally, Boseong produces green and black teas, but these days, malcha (powdered tea) and tea-related products are also made here.
Tasting Boseong Teas
In the Botjae cafe, we ordered three types of Boseong tea to savour the differences in style, flavour and quality; the first two were nokcha (green teas) and the third a hongcha (black tea).
Ujeon tea is made from the first harvest of young leaves, picked before the spring rain falls. Korea has 24 jeolgi (seasonal divisions) and the leaves of this first flush tea must be picked before goku, which falls in the second half of April. Brewed to a delicate amber, the complexity of flavour is gently fruity and vegetal with the typical creamy sweetness of my favourite high mountain oolongs – this tea blew my mind; it was phenomenally good! As I discovered later when looking for it in the shop, ujeon is considered the best, most luxurious tea in Korea. I have annoyingly expensive tastes!
Sejak tea is made from leaves collected in late April or early May, and is also known as jakseol (thin sparrow) because the shape of the leaves resembles the tongue of a thin sparrow. This is a popular tea in Korea, still of very good quality made with second flush leaves, but not as expensive as ujeon. It’s brews a classic cup of tea, a little simpler in flavour than the ujeon but still light, bright and fruity, it’s a delicious tea to indulge in if you don’t want to splurge on the ujeon.
We had a hongcha (black tea) to compare against the two green teas above, though I’m not sure which flush it was from. It was a good quality black tea which reminded me of a decent Darjeeling.
Other types of tea include jungjak (“medium sparrow”, tea made from leaves plucked in mid-May), daejak (“big sparrow”, tea that is harvested in late May), and yeobcha (tea made from course grade leaves picked in June and July, usually sold as inexpensive every day tea).
Cheong Gwang Ceramics Garden Restaurant
We were accompanied for our visit by Boseong County’s Tea Horticulture and Distribution Division’s Marketing Team and they took us for a wonderful lunch at a restaurant that incorporates tea into several of its dishes.
Cheong Gwang Ceramics Garden is a family ceramics and restaurant business, located about a mile north of Daehan Dawon and Botjae. Their Nokcha Jeongsik (green tea multi-course meal) is priced at 23,000 won (about £15) per person and was an absolute feast of dishes.
I remember pumpkin soup, green tea muk (jelly), green tea pancake, green tea tteok galbi (minced pork patties), pickled green tea leaves, salad in yuja (yuzu) dressing, kimchi and several other namul (seasoned vegetables), bori gulbi (dried, salted corvina fish), japchae (stir-fried glass noodles with meat and vegetables), fried tofu, battered aubergine, and pot-rice steamed with green tea. I’ve probably missed a few dishes too; it’s a wonderful spread!
As the restaurant is popular, it’s worth making a reservation in advance, but if they have space available, you can order the menu on arrival.
Other Attractions in Boseong
You may also visit the Korea Tea Museum, which has several spaces dedicated to learning about tea, and offers cultural experience programmes such as tea etiquette.
Boseong Ganggol Traditional Village consists of about 30 traditional hanok houses built in the 19th and 20th centuries. Obang san (mountain) provides an impressive backdrop to the scenic village. Overnight home stays are available.
Yulpo Beach and Seawater Pool are less than 5 miles from the Boseong Tea Fields.
With many thanks to Mr Loh Guk-gang and Mr Park Dae-jong of the Boseong County’s Tea Horticulture and Distribution Division’s Marketing Team for being our expert and enthusiastic guides for the day, and treating us to a wonderful lunch. Thanks also to Lee Eunyoung for providing translation during the day.
Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!14 Comments to "Visiting the Beautiful Tea Fields of Boseong, South Korea"
Enjoyed that! The tea gardens look similar to Indian ones. Food looks so good.
Yes, I love the tea terraces around the world. We drove past some in Assam area of India several years back. The tea was great quality and that meal was fantastic!
There’s something soothing about tea and coffee plantations. I’ve been to quite a few in southern India and I always love them. Boseong tea fields in South Korea is no exception, this looks so serene. Good to know that it would be possible to go on a self-driving tour through this region and Daehan Dawon can also be reached by bus. Its awesome that they can be visited all around the year. I’d totally want to try that green tea icecream!
To capture the perfect photo of beautiful tea terraces would be a dream! And visiting Boseong sounds wonderful. I was so surprised to see your photo of tall cedar trees at the tea fields. So beautiful and majestic. And even though I don’t drink tea, I can see that the history of tea is very important here in South Korea.
We had only two quick and busy days in South Korea so we did not see nearly enough of the country. A visit to the tea fields of Boseong would be a lovely way to see a bit of the countryside. And wonderful to learn that South Korea is a spot where you can rent a car and explore on your own. I always love visiting tea plantations like this and seeing the interesting foods that tea is used in. I am sure we would come home with a mix of Boseong teas.
Aah I hope you can get back to South Korea for a longer trip. Even our 4 weeks wasn’t enough and we will definitely go back again in the coming years!
I really enjoyed reading your post about a visit to the Boseong tea fields. I knew that South Korea has a tradition of Green Tea too, but I never thought about visiting a tea plantation there. I love the idea of walking through some old cedar planations to get to the tea fields. And of course I woild love to try the green tea ice cream.
Same, I hadn’t really realised that Korea produces some really high quality teas, in the way that I was aware of those from China, Japan and Taiwan, so it was wonderful to see, learn and taste!
The Boseong tea fields in South Korea are beautiful with lush green hedges rolling down the hills and the shaded path along the entrance to Daehan Dawon along with a cafe restaurant and souvenir shop sounds really enticing to me. It’s interesting how tea reached from China to Korea and tasting a tea ice cream after stunning views of tea fields is so amazing! You have perfectly described the difference between the first and second flush of green teas and the black tea. The art exhibit at Botjae cafe is truly inspiring and the Cheong Gwang ceramics garden restaurant serving different delicacies made out of tea leaves is a showstopper! I would love to visit the Boseong tea field for such an amazing experience.
What a wonderful experience! I have only visited the tea fields in Sri Lanka, where I’ve learned about the local green tea. I do plan to visit South Korea and I will make sure to add the tea fields in Boseong in my itinerary. I have actually tried different types of tea from Jeollanam province before, one of them being made from toasted rice. It tasted very interesting. I’d like to try the green tea grown there as well.
I’ve seen some of the tea fields of Assam but not those of Sri Lanka, I would love to visit SL too! Hope you are able to include Boseong in a South Korea itinerary too!
Such a spot is my favorite. Exploring these tea fields and taking in the beautiful scenery seems like a wonderful experience. You’ll feel relaxed just by looking at it. In addition, I want to sample the Boseong tea and green tea ice cream. It would be a lovely idea to dine at Cheong Gwang Ceramics Garden Restaurant after touring the tea field, as their dishes look scrumptious.
Wow! I haven’t had to chance to visit an actual tea farm and I think it is such a unique experience. We will definitely include this in our itinerary should we have the chance to visit Boseong. By the way, that green tea ice cream looks really delicious. The food from Cheong Gwang looks great and not to mention that the prices are very reasonable too.
Oh wow what a beautiful place to explore, these tea fields are so beautiful and such a unique experience. Also that cooling green tea ice cream looks delicious as does all of the food.