Tea has been a major drink in Taiwan since its introduction and its high mountain Oolong teas are great. Indeed, Taiwan was a major trader in tea to global markets ever since the island was opened up to trade in the 1860’s. So, what could be better than taking the gondola from Taipei up to Maokong to sample the teas – and the hiking and views of course!
Maokong feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of Taipei – and yet is just a short ride away from the city’s zoo and suburbs. Here you can take in the fresh air and enjoy the panorama of the city from the famous tea houses and tea plantations.
I’ve only been up to Maokong twice, so I’m hardly an expert, but even in these two short trips I’ve gained real flavour for the area, including its tea houses. There are built along the main road and are often spacious, family-run affairs, often offering a good selection of meals, as well as tea. many have their own special terrace away from the road that allows you to sample the teas in something close to tranquility.
The first thing you notice on your way to Maokong is how lush it is. As you glide over the tree canopies you expect to see monkeys jumping from branch to branch. It feels like the jungle and then you pass over the temple at Zhinan before the final ascent to Maokong. But don’t expect solitude when you arrive – this is a bustling place with locals taking in the tea houses and enjoying hikes in the mountains. Maokong lies just under the ridgeline of the hills and below lies terraces of tea plantations.
We tried a variety of tea houses along the main road – each offering its own unique array of teas. And if that’s not enough for you, you can always visit the tea shops or take a hike in the nearby hills.
We took a short hike in the hills over to Silver Stream waterfall, which, after a steep hike down hundreds of steps, is a lovely spot with its own temple built into the rocks and with a cave nearby.
If you want the perfect antidote to Taipei’s hectic pace, take time for tea at Maokong.