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7-Day Private Tea Tour of Taiwan Itinerary
Day 1 – Taipei City
- Fly into Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport near Taipei. By the time you’ve transferred to your hotel in the capital, we’ll have finalized a plan for the rest of the day that matches your interests and energy levels.
- Depending on time available, this may include a thorough look at Dadaocheng, one of the oldest and most interesting parts of Taipei. Some of the tea businesses here have been operating for more than 150 years; the tea trade paid for many of the ornate baroque-revival buildings on Dihua Street. We’ll experience a tea ceremony, led by a local tea master and featuring a selection of Taiwan’s finest teas. Alternatively, we may take the Maokong Gondola up to the tea plantations in the southwestern part of the capital, and have dinner – with some excellent local tea, of course – at our favorite restaurant, watching the lights of Taipei flicker in the distance.
Day 2 – Hualien County
- We’ll be making a reasonably early start today and driving to Hualien on the east coast. We can break this four-hour drive with a stop at the hot & cold springs park in Jiaoxi in Yilan County. If your interest in delightful liquids goes beyond tea, we can instead detour to the Kavalan Distillery where one of the world’s newest whisky brands has been producing prize-winning editions.
- A large part of the population in the east is of indigenous Austronesian descent and these tribes have their own distinct cuisines. At the acclaimed aboriginal restaurant Dageeli we’ll enjoy some indigenous delicacies before heading into Hualien. After we’ve set you up in your hotel and you’ve taken a rest, we can look around this lively city of 100,000 people.
Day 3 – Ruisui District
- Basing ourselves in Hualien, today we’ll drive an hour and a quarter through the bucolic East Rift Valley to Ruisui for scenery and, naturally, more tea. The district is famous for its hot springs; if you want to soak, bring your swimsuit. Along the way, we can make a stop at Danongdafu Forest Park, a former sugar plantation that’s been turned into a sprawling recreational woodland.
- Ruisui, located just north of where the Tropic of Cancer crosses Taiwan, produces a variety of teas. At Wuhe Tea Plantation the oolongs include qingxin oolong tea, jinxuan tea, and jade oolong. What’s called ‘honey peach black tea’ on account of its sweet and fruity aroma was created by happy accident. A plantation owner embracing pesticide-free farming methods discovered that his leaves were being chewed by leaf-hopper insects, and after drying them noticed the flavour was subtly yet pleasantly altered.
Day 4 – Scenic Mountain Drive to Sun Moon Lake
- Much of the day will be spent on a long but breathtakingly scenic drive. From Hualien, we’ll pass through the stupendous Taroko Gorge then climb high into the Central Mountain Range that separates east Taiwan from the island’s flatter, more populated western half. The road crests at two miles above sea level, but before then we’ll likely halt for a cup of hot ginger tea at Bilu Sacred Tree, a 50m high, 3,200-year-old Lunta fir.
- We’ll make regular stops so you can photograph the gorgeous panoramas, then descend toward one of Taiwan’s most famous attractions, Sun Moon Lake. You’ll arrive in time to see the lake (by private boat, if you let us know in advance) and take a short rest in your hotel before dinner.
Day 5 – Tea Plantations
- After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll lead you through some non-tea sightseeing. Among the lakeside attractions we’ll visit are Cien Pagoda (built on the orders of Chiang Kai-shek to honour his late mother), and a pair of temples that preserve relics associated with Xuan Zang, a Buddhist monk revered for travelling from China to India in 7th century and translating religious texts.
- After lunch, you can stretch your legs at the nearby Antique Assam Tea Farm, a restored Japanese-era tea plantation which is as educational as it is scenic. It’ll then be time to say goodbye to the lake and head to the oolong-growing part of the mountainous Alishan region. Dinner will be near your accommodation at Shizhuo, 1,000 m or so above sea level and another famous tea-growing area. We recommend a local speciality: chicken basted in tea oil.
Day 6 – Tea Plantations
- We’ll have the entire day to explore the Greater Alishan region, visit tea plantations, meet farmers and try their teas. The scenery throughout is wonderful; if you’d like to go for a hike, we’ll show you a trail that matches your physical condition.
- We can go for a gentle stroll through the forests around Fenqihu (a tiny town that grew up to service the logging railway), take a look at Dinghu, a tea-growing village even higher than Shizhuo, or meet a lady who gathers wild coffee in the indigenous village of Laiji.
Day 7 – Wrap up
- Whatever time you fly out, we’ll help you make the very most of your final day in Taiwan. Before putting you on the bullet train at Chiayi HSR Station, we can bring you to the Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum, which has a superb permanent exhibition about tea culture, as well as sections devoted to Asian textiles, Buddhist Art and other themes.