Sun Moon Lake (日月潭)
Sun Moon Lake is the largest body of fresh water on the island of Taiwan, aka Formosa. Yu Chih (魚池), just a few miles north of the famed lake itself, is where the majority of country's black tea is produced. During the Japanese occupation, the emperor planted the Assam varietal here. In the sunny, humid, mid elevation conditions, this plant thrived.
One must see for any visitor is the Antique Assam Farm. This is a great place to learn about the history, and current production of black tea in Taiwan. It's essentially a hybrid tea farm / factory / retail store / restaurant. It would be fitting to call it a tea amusement park, for all people alike. When we visited in Winter of 2011, we couldn't have asked for better weather. It was the perfect setting to enjoy picturesque hillsides and calm air. A soul satisfying cup of Red Ruby (紅玉), Taiwan Tea #18, was just icing on the cake.
In contrast with other higher mountain areas like Ali Shan, Yu Chih has a rustic, traditional countryside setting. More often than not, one will find the sun radiating its warmth and splendor, not hidden behind thick shrouds of mist. The air is also warmer, and more gentle than the colder, sometimes fierce high mountain air. As I looked out onto the tea fields, I thought to myself - sure wouldn't mind laying out for a nap right here right now.
What is it like inside a black tea factory in Yu Chih? Here's a quick peek we recorded January of 2012.