Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Teatime in Thailand - A Visit to the Tea Plantations of Mae Salong

During my visit to Thailand in November 2004, I traveled through the scenic Yunnanese village of
Mae Salong
, located in the mountains of the
Golden Triangle
Strolling around the small town, you'll find the Chinese influence very strong with most of the shops and many of the homes decorated with Chinese ornamentation and with many of the homes decorated with Chinese ornamentation and with many of the homes decorated with Chinese ornamentation and with many of the inhabitants speaking Mandarin. Many of the villagers trace their ancestry to members of Chinese Nationalist party who fled China, resettling in nothern Thailand during the communist takeover in late 1940's. Mae Salong is a very unique and important place, not only because of its historical origins but also as the one of the most important tea growing regions in Thailand. .
Tea is king here
; the surrounding countryside is covered by a green carpet of tea, as far as the eye can see. Small tea tasting rooms are scattered throughout the small village of
Mae Salong
selling so many different grades of tea including green oolong, which seems to be the crème de la crème of the tea world. The largest tea plantations are located just outside of town and are well worth a visit. Ms. Ming, the gracious owner of
Mae Salong Villa
(the hotel where I stayed)
It seems that the Mae Salong Chinese community has maintained very close ties with Taiwan, which remained a stronghold of the Chinese nationalist party after the Communists took over mainland China. explained to me about the origins of the tea industry and about the different grades of tea leaves sold commercially.
The tea industry got a kick-start when some choice tea plants were carried over from Taiwan and planted in the hills of Mae Salong. Ming's husband owns one the major tea plantations in the area but as Ms. Ming explained to me, there is more money to be made in the tourism business these days as the tea business is very labor intensive and the profit margins are small.
Bus Goldberg is a seasoned world traveler and the director of
Calypso Island Tours
He also maintains his own travel blog, , a travel company that specializes in botanical adventures and nature tours to such diverse destinations as Costa Rica, Thailand and the Caribbean.
Calypso Island Chronicles


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