The Boseong Green Tea Festival is held once a year in May after the first new tea leaves have been picked in April. Tea made from the new young tea leaves taste the best right now and the tea fields are at their most beautiful too, so we headed down to Boseong for the long weekend to sip tea and sight-see.
To get to Boseong we took the KTX (Korea’s bullet train) to Gwangju in Jeolla-do. (2 and a half hours from Seoul). We stayed the night in Gwangju and then got up early next morning to catch the bus to Boseong from Gwangju bus terminal. (90 minutes)
Waiting at Gwanghju bus terminal, most people are focussed on their personal smart phones but the waiting areas still have those old fashioned things called TVs 😉
I love how the two female monks in this picture (below) both balance their hats on the handles of their suitcases while they wait.
waiting area in Gwangju bus terminal Saturday at 8 am
THE DISCO BUS
After arriving in Boseong we have to catch another bus to the green tea fields. During the festival weekend there is a free shuttle bus from the bus station to the venue. I’m going to call this the ‘DISCO BUS’ because it has red, blue, and green lights flashing inside all the way. (It takes about 15 minutes to get there.)
BTW The last time I saw this kind of bus it drove past us in the countryside one evening pumping out music from a karaoke machine inside with the silhouettes of umpteen adjummas bopping in the aisles to the energetic sounds of a very enthusiastic fellow adjumma singer. Adjummas know how to have a good time!
disco shuttle bus from Boseong to green tea festival
The festival itself is pretty low key – the main event being the green tea itself. But there are various events including tea picking and stalls are set up in white tents selling different kinds of tea or snacks. There are a few fairground type stalls too if you want to lose your money!
Only the new leaves at the top of the plants are picked for tea
In the tents there were plenty of visitors trying various games such as this one where you try to win some money by throwing a coin onto a number on the grid. The number you land on determines how many coins you win. BUT your coin can’t touch the lines – it has to land in the middle of the square! There’s always a catch, isn’t there?
A trip to Boseong is not complete without some obligatory green tea based cuisine. After a green tea ice cream we had a bowl of green tea noodle soup. The shikdang selling the noodles was extremely busy with people waiting for seats. BUT the food was VERY DISAPPOINTING INDEED. We left most of our noodles preferring to stay hungry in the hopes of finding something better later. It was just all very bland.
LOVELY NEW GREEN TEA
I didn’t buy any of the different teas they had in the tents – there was anything from bamboo tea to various types of flower tea. But I had come for green tea and specifically new green tea picked this year. This tea I bought was picked last month. It wasn’t cheap (the tea in the box on the left was 77,000 won for 100g, the bag on the right was 30,000 won for 40g)
BUT the tea is lovely. You can’t beat new green tea. The lady in the shop explained that the young leaves are still intact and so after making tea the leaves can be dried and used in various dishes such as stir fried with anchovies or in bibimbap.
By 2:00 pm we had seen everything and got in line for the disco bus back to Boseong. Back in Gwangju we just had time for dinner before catching the last KTX train back to Seoul.
RAIN IN SEOUL AND NO TAXI
But something I hadn’t anticipated happened after we arrived in Seoul. It was raining heavily in Yongsan and public transport was no longer running. And so as I watched the streams of passengers pouring out of our train I realised that I hadn’t considered the fact that we might NOT be able to get a taxi home. There was already a long line of disgruntled and drenched holidaymakers waiting in a hopeful line next to taxi drivers shouting that they were only taking passengers to far away places like Incheon or Kimpo – people who live nearby like us don’t make them any money. grrrr. We decided to start walking and try to flag a taxi down on the way. Welcome back to Seoul. Where’s a disco bus when you need one? 😕