Have you ever wondered what Thailand is like? Wanted to know more about the tea fields, the mountains, and the people? Well, I was lucky enough to get to explore Thailand for tea reasons. I’m not sure whether you should be jealous or just happy for me, but I hope you enjoy reading this. If you don’t already want to go, then maybe this will be the push that you need.
When I first got there, I got to travel up a beautiful mountain. The mountain had a nice, paved road that lead all the way up to the top. It was quite dangerous, though, as it was also at a 90 degree angle! Once we, the driver and I, made it up the mountain, I was led to the tea market. Getting to see where the tea trading happens was quite interesting. When you go, you can see the tourists enjoying themselves as they taste different types of tea.
In the market, just about every store in the area focuses on selling tea. Some of the store owners have their own tea farms, but some do not. Thankfully, my driver knew a thing or two about the area, so he managed to find a new tea farm for me to explore. My driver was a very knowledgeable man and I did scout for new tea farm before coming here. Because of him, I knew exactly where to go and who I would be speaking with.
Jer, the lady in the yellow shirt, is the owner of her own small tea farm. While I was there, she told me that her husband was the one that started his own tea farm. About 50 years ago, he had started a farm with some of the other Chinese immigrants in the area. Back then, the “lost army”, the Kuomintang’s 93rd Division, spent decades wandering the region between China, Myanmar and Thailand, trying to find a home. During that, they were in a constant fight with the communists and those that did not want them to settle. Finally, in the 70s, they were granted land around Mae Salong by the Thai government, in return for helping crush the communist guerrillas in the mountains of northern Thailand.
Back then, the area had been used to grow opium poppies. With the help of King Bhumibol Rama 9 (Current King is Rama 10), they put an end to the poppy farms. The king told Jer’s husband that the opium was killing people, so the land could be used for better reasons. He then assisted the people as they began to grow tea, coffee and a variety of fruits. The opium fields were no more. They were replaced to help aid the people, not kill them.
As the owner of the tea farm, Jer let me taste some of the teas that she grew. Her te was very nice, as it was quite smooth. I am happy to say that, with her hospitality, we managed to obtain her “Siam Ruby” Oolong tea.
But, my curiosity did not stop at Jer’s tea farm. I continued to wander around the area; scoping other tea shops, and tasting more tea. One of the teas that I came across was called “Red oolong”. The owner of the tea shop that had it said it was a special version that was hand roasted. That means the consistency of the temperature used varied. To be honest, I thought I was smoking, rather than drinking tea. After that, I tried a tea that was roasted in a controlled temperature. There was no smoky flavor or the feeling of smoking.
I actually don't mind teas with a smoky flavor. One of the teas I like happens to be Lapsang Pouchong from China, which we carry in store. It tastes smoky, but is a lot more pleasing. It’s different than the tea I tried, which was one of the only bad experiences I had on the trip.
So, as you could probably guess, I spent the whole day tasting various teas. It got to the point that I was actually a little bit sick of tea after a while! Don’t worry, I still love tea. I just had too much that day. So, I tried some Thai food to help clear my palette. Have you ever had tuna salad with tea leaves? It is quite good, but a little bit spicy.
Oh, wanna know a fun fact? The tea trees that are found in Thailand are actually incredibly tall! The tea farmers have to shorten them to speed up the picking process.
Come by to see us at our shop if you want to see the teas we brought back for yourself. They are quite interesting, and definitely worth the trip! Our address is 16228 Main Ave, Prior Lake. To end this, I’ll put a picture in of the beautiful tea farms for you to enjoy.
Disclaimer: We are not associated with any local or oversea tea organization.
Staff at Great Tea Road Co