Planning Spring Taiwan Trip


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Planning Spring Taiwan Trip

Postby phoenixK » Feb 26th, '12, 23:58

Hello everyone,

My wife and I are traveling to Taiwan in early May, and are trying to plan destinations around tea and tea culture.

We are planning on being in Taiwan for about 8 days. Tentatively I think this will give us enough time to see some select places in and around Taipei and possibly Taichung.

Some places in and around Taipei we are thinking about:
- Wisteria Tea House
- Yingge Old Street - Ceramics, Teapots etc.
- Maokong Mountain / Muzha - Lots of teahouses, Tieguanyin grown here.

We'd also like to get out of Taipei and see some remote areas, and stay at some "bed & breakfast" places. It seems like Taichung has some great teahouses, and we might be able to take some excursions from here to see some tea farms or stay in some country inns.

I was wondering if you all might have some recommendations, suggestions or comments. We'd love to experience some great oolong, and hopefully get off the beaten path.

Both of us have never been to Taiwan, so this will be an adventure.

Thanks so much!
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Re: Planning Spring Taiwan Trip

Postby shah82 » Feb 27th, '12, 01:48

Jiangguo Jade Market is a must.

Tainan also has old teahouses.

Catch some original aboriginal taiwanese culture as well.

Perhaps visit the old fortified islands outside Xiamen's harbor.
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Re: Planning Spring Taiwan Trip

Postby wyardley » Feb 27th, '12, 13:21

Definitely plan to spend some time at Wistaria. There are some good tea shops on Yongkang road too, in the shopping area there. If you're looking somewhere to drink tea and have a snack, this place is good too:
http://www.runawaysquirrels.com/2010/06 ... tea-house/

Muzha was kind of a bust. It's a long cab ride, and even with someone who was willing to take us around, there really wasn't much chance to see any tea production (especially since the farmer was busy actually producing tea). There's a small museum and model tea farm, but really not that exiting. I had done some research on one of the Taiwan tea forums, and no one really had suggestions of anywhere that could be visited in the Muzha or Wenshan / Pinglin areas (though people did say that the latter has more actual tea production these days). There is the cable car -- we didn't go on it, but I think it's supposed to be pretty scenic. I think you will get as good or better Muzha TGY in the city, though.

If you get a chance, spend some time in the Beitou area for the hot springs.

There's an antique market every weekend; timing didn't work out for me to go last time. The folks at Wistaria should be able to tell you when and where it is. And don't miss the night markets and street fruit carts! Shilin is the most famous night market. Cabs are relatively cheap, traffic relatively light, and drivers not too crazy, so, compared to HK or Mainland China, it's pretty feasible to take cabs almost everywhere in the city. The metro system is great too; get the unlimited card -- it's very convenient.

We didn't get a chance to go to some more rural areas when we went, but there are some agritourism type places for tea, where you can stay at a working tea farm. I know folks who have done this as part of a tea tour, and really enjoyed the experience.

I will say this -- the days go by pretty fast.

In the city, we stayed at Hotel 73 in Zhongzheng area (really nice, modern style boutique hotel) and Shuimei (Sweetme) in Xin Beitou.
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Re: Planning Spring Taiwan Trip

Postby teaisme » Feb 27th, '12, 15:03

phoenixK wrote: - Yingge Old Street - Ceramics, Teapots etc.

Thanks so much!


There is an awful lot to see in that area...from small hidden studios on the less busy side streets higher up, to the large shopping center and surrounding area filled with teashops and tea ware stores. I would recommend a full day there. Well worth a visit. imo one of the best places to buy good quality tea ware for cheap, and ok teaware for practically nothing. I think you will be in for a happy surprise, pack light!

Also some really good street food in that area, seriously good, makes taking your time to find those great deals all the better :mrgreen:

Never went to the museum, honestly would rather be on the street where I can touch everything :lol:
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Re: Planning Spring Taiwan Trip

Postby phoenixK » Feb 28th, '12, 01:30

Thanks for the great suggestions wyardley and teaisme! I'm worried that with all to do in and around Taipei, we won't have time to explore south.

wyardley wrote:Definitely plan to spend some time at Wistaria.


Thanks for the endorsement wyardley, I was worried this might be a tourist trap.

teaisme wrote:There is an awful lot to see in that area...from small hidden studios on the less busy side streets higher up, to the large shopping center and surrounding area filled with teashops and tea ware stores


Wow, alright that sounds awesome!

Does anyone know if Xu De Jia still has a studio here? I think I remember reading somewhere that he used to. It would be pretty cool to see it.

Thanks!
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Re: Planning Spring Taiwan Trip

Postby djlau » Mar 20th, '12, 12:52

As a tea enthusiast you're definitely going to enjoy Taiwan =) The tea culture is rich and varies from traditional to hyper modern. Taipei is a different feel than Taichung. I'd personally recommend skipping the tea houses in Taipei, like Wistaria, and just getting your fix in Taichung. Wu Wei Cao Tang (無為草堂)is a great great place. It's a traditional chinese palace summer home style layout with individual rooms for you to lounge out. I can only wish that I might find something like that here some day.

I agree that Mu Zha and Mao Kong can kind of be a "bust." I personally love to watch the skyline at night from the tea houses (there's tons). You can see Taipei 101 and all the other hustle and bustle.

Ping Lin has great tea, but it's a pretty dead town nowadays. The public transportation system in Taiwan is miles ahead of what it used to be. From the Taichung HSR, you can now you can get to either Sun Moon Lake or Chi Tou (San Lin Xi) in roughly 2 hours. I'd strongly recommend both of these places. Chi Tou is going to have much cooler weather. You can stay in the wood houses and eat bamboo shoot cuisine, and also drink the tea of course. There's awesome hiking here and really spectacular views. Sun Moon Lake is more of a honey moon, resort retreat type place. So if you're feeling more sedentary than outdoorsy I'd recommend it here. Yu Chih is a stones throw away and that's where most black tea is made in Taiwan. Check out antique assam farm (日月老茶場). It's a museum / tea factory / education center that is actually government owned. Very cool and relaxing spot.

Tainan is a great place to eat and hang out. The weather is much much warmer and the street food, overall, is the best in all of Taiwan. Happy travels! :D


-----
Edit: Oh man... I didn't realize that this thread was dated back to Feb. Well, for the next trip then!
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Re: Planning Spring Taiwan Trip

Postby teaisme » Mar 21st, '12, 14:10

phoenixK wrote:Does anyone know if Xu De Jia still has a studio here? I think I remember reading somewhere that he used to. It would be pretty cool to see it.

Thanks!


I think he still has a home studio there. guang at houde can probably give you directions if you email him or irene. I recall IPT may be able to get you in contact with him too.
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Re: Planning Spring Taiwan Trip

Postby TokyoB » Mar 21st, '12, 21:22

teaisme wrote:
phoenixK wrote:Does anyone know if Xu De Jia still has a studio here? I think I remember reading somewhere that he used to. It would be pretty cool to see it.

Thanks!


I think he still has a home studio there. guang at houde can probably give you directions if you email him or irene. I recall IPT may be able to get you in contact with him too.


He has a shop in Yingge which is pretty easy to find. It is one of the first shops you will come to from the train station (although you have to walk several blocks first). You can ask around. Actually if you don't speak Mandarin it would probably be good to have his name written in Chinese. The couple of times I was there he was in the shop although he said he is often in the studio. I think he generally tries to be in the shop on the weekend, which is when he has the most customers.
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Re: Planning Spring Taiwan Trip

Postby phoenixK » Mar 23rd, '12, 23:38

djlau wrote:Edit: Oh man... I didn't realize that this thread was dated back to Feb. Well, for the next trip then!


I'm not going until the second week of May! I'm still finalizing the trip so I really appreciate all the help! Thanks djlau for the Taichung tips, I am now definitely planning on going there :) I am unfamiliar with Chi Tou, so I'll have to do some research on that.


Thanks teaisme and TokyoB for the Xu De Jia Studio info, hopefully I'll be able to drop in while I am there.
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Re: Planning Spring Taiwan Trip

Postby TomVerlain » Mar 26th, '12, 09:22

I am in Taipei now - Maokong is a great day trip. I recommend the Chang Nai-Miao tea house. Very nice people and they have their own tea and teapots for sale. I bought an "anniversary pot" and some charcoal roasted and regular oolong. They have puerh for those so inclined. Just being up in the mountains with the fog rolling in over tea fields is a sublime feeling.

Here are some pictures I took this past week.

Listing of teahouses on main road in Maokong

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close up of road signs

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In Jiufen, there are one million people selling oolong. Jiufen just by itself is beautiful, so go there for the view. I stayed in Keelung for the weekend. If you are in Tawain for 8 days, you may want to at least think about overnight in Keelung. Evergreen hotel is reasonable and with in walking distance of the night market. The train is pretty easy to figure out and less than $2 USD from taipei main station. Jiufen is a $2 USD bus ride or $13.50 by cab from the hotel. There are tours from taipei as well.

enjoy

tom
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Re: Planning Spring Taiwan Trip

Postby TomVerlain » Mar 26th, '12, 09:26

two more pics - view from gondola

Image

Image
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Re: Planning Spring Taiwan Trip

Postby Chip » Mar 26th, '12, 09:45

Awesome Tom! Thanks for sharing photos as you go!

Looks like enough English translation signage to get around?
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Re: Planning Spring Taiwan Trip

Postby TomVerlain » Mar 26th, '12, 10:00

in the words of Blanche DuBois " I have always depended on the kindness of strangers" - actually, though some things are in english, others are not. Bus signs are not. But checking what bus you need ahead of time with the hotel or the internet makes it work. Plus, people are very friendly and sometimes like an opportunity to practice english helping others.
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Re: Planning Spring Taiwan Trip

Postby cindyt » Mar 26th, '12, 17:24

Tom, you are making me homesick. I grew up in Muzha, right at the bottom of the hill of Maokong. Actually from gongola you can see the elementary school I went to.

Great pictures! I am glad that you are having a great time in Taiwan! :)
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