Wednesday, July 30, 2014

An autumn weekend in the mountains

This weekend we took an organized trip to see the Autumn foliage.
It started VERY early Saturday morning when we watched the sun rise from Jirisan mountain. Jirisan is the second highest mountain in Korea with Hallasan being first and Seoroksan third. The hike started out with a lot of dry ground and brown wilted trees which I was quite disappointed to see but as we kept on the foliage just got better and better. I must have hundreds of photos on my camera because every 100m or so I had to stop and take more photos because I actually couldn't believe my eyes!

After the hike we had some lunch and then went on to learn how to make Green tea in Boseong. This was a very special green tea as they put gold flecks into the soil so that the roots of the green tea plant could suck t up and make the green tea that much more valuable. It costs up to $300 dollars a cup in some places. it is also believed to have some kind of healing properties because of the gold.
green tea mold
So first, only the best quality leaves from the green tea plantations are picked and cleaned and then they are steamed in a big metal bowl while you toss them around with your hands. Once they are soft and warm they are crushed with a huge mortar and pestle into a paste which is then pushed into a mold and left for weeks to dry out. This pretty mold can then be broken into smaller pieces or the whole thing can be placed in a teapot of boiling water to create the green tea you drink. 

Perfect leaves are picked
Leaves are steamed
Crushed into a paste

Final product

The woman who owns the plantation with her two sons and one of the shop keepers.
This evening we had some dinner before being taken to a traditional Korean style village where we spent the night in traditional houses. The houses were very cute and comfortable. Like most Korean housing your bed is the floor with a small mat and blanket. It is very warm though because of the ondol style heating which is the floor heating that they have in Korea.
The next morning we explored around the village before going to another national park to see some more Autumn foliage.