Thursday, October 14, 2010

Welcome to Tea Tour Korea

Welcome to our Tea Tour Korea blog. 
Korea is a destination tourist spot for many Asian countries.  Its beautiful mountains with their wonderful mountain adventures,

Korea's Mountains Hold Many Adventures
historic sites, 

 Bulgoksa Korea's most Famous Temple

bargain prices and friendly people lure them to Korea for wonderful holidays and even weekend ‘getaways’. 
On our many travels to Korea we have been drawn to a very interesting conclusion -- tea is the secret ingredient to much of Korea’s rich culture.  Without tea, Buddhism would not be the same, pottery would not be the same - anywhere in the world– and we would be denied the second most consumed beverage in the world - next to water.  

 Bosong Tea After Harvesting

Tea is at Korea’s cultural heart.  Without tea, and the practices associated with it, one can say that we would not have as many artists of many types throughout this beautiful land - Korea. 
So when you join us on Tea Tour Korea 2011, you will be joining us on an adventure not just to sip some very special tea but also to watch Korea’s rich arts and culture unfold before you while enjoying an occasional cup of their wonderful tea.  You will go beyond ‘watching’ to ‘experiencing’ important aspects of Korea’s culture first hand.  If you are truly interested in learning about Korean culture, nothing could be better.

Farm Dancers

 Our posts will start simple and as we reveal more aspects of the tour our posts will grow in detail.  As our blog grows, we hope your interest will also grow. 
On Tea Tour Korea you will not only see or “visit” Korea you will EXPERIENCE Korea in ways seldom attempted ever before on any tour.  And sometimes you will find that like the dragonfly it is the simple things that often seem to matter most.
We hope that you will join us by following this blog.  It will begin slowly and build to reveal the true nature of what we are planning – perhaps to reveal Korea in ways you have never thought of before.  Please join us as we “touch the heart of Korea” through tea.

The Simple Things

Sokkuram Fog

Near the ancient Buddhist temple of Sokkuram, early in the spring, the mountain mist often settles among the trees as it has done this morning.  Many tourists slowly walk along this path in anticipation of seeing the ancient stone Buddha but few pause to enjoy the mist.

A Hand-formed Potter's Home
 Not many miles away, inside this home set high on another mountain, a tea ware artist slowly wakes from his sleep.  He discovers that his daughter moved her yo close to his and has slept beside him all night.  The artist built this home by hand from raw clay and trees.

 His wife, already awake, is in the kitchen making breakfast.

A Monk Visits His Wild 'Bamboo' Tea

A hundred miles east, behind another ancient temple, the morning mist begins to rise after kissing the newly emerged tiny tealeaves on Jirisan.   Morning prayers and meditation have finished and several monks walk slowly behind the temple through the still moist woods into the bamboo forest.  There, among the bamboo, they find wild tea plants and check the tea leaves to see how wet they are from the morning dew.  These leaves are still a little too wet.  The monks will wait until afternoon to pick them.
New sprouting tealeaves are abundant.  It is about time, the winter was cold and the tealeaves started emerging later than usual.  Brother Anthony and Hong Kyeong-hee, authors of The Korean Way of Tea, will visit this temple in the afternoon along with some international guests who want to experience the picking and making of nokcha.  Some will stay the night at the temple so the monks are preparing for their arrival.

 Min Young Ki's Kiln Waits
A short distance away, work gloves sit on the ledge of the kiln of one of Korea’s most famous tea masters.  The gloves are waiting for the potter to load the kiln.  It will be loaded today then fired by wood - a ritual preformed often in this old kiln.   We can hardly wait to see the results of this firing.

A Bosong Tea Plantation

A hundred miles further east we find the Bosong tea plantations.   This plantation is beautiful and the site of several movies.  A Bosong tea plantation was the first Korean tea plantation to receive the prestigious international ‘organic’ label.

O'Sulloc Tea Plantation, Gangjin
The great tea and celadon city of Gangjin is nearby.  A tea company in Gangjin is quickly becoming well known and obviously has plans to export Korean tea in the near future.

A 2009 Gangjin Celadon Incense Burner

Gangjin is the home of Gangjin celadon.   Twelfth century China considered the celadon of Korea to be ‘the finest celadon in the world’ – every other thing on the ‘finest’ list was Chinese.   Nearly 80 percent of the Goryeo Dynasty celadon found in Museums throughout the world was made in Gangjin.  Gangjin’s artists are quickly reclaiming the reputation of producing the finest celadon in the world with their twenty-first century work.  

At Baekryeonsa Gangjin's Famous Tea Temple

In a mountain temple a famous tea monk walks through a camellia forest to the temple’s tea area surrounded by trees.  There he will personally pick his tealeaves.  These leaves will be for Ujeon.  Later pickings will be for Sejak, Jungjak and Daejak or his special Ddokcha a rediscovery of the ancient methods of the famous Korean tea monk Cho-Ui who lived at this temple.

The Mungyeong Chassabal Festival Grounds

Nearly two-hundred miles northeast many tea ware artists, including some national treasures, are waking, eating their breakfast and preparing it go to their annual festival - the Mungyeong Chassabal Festival - where international tea ware artists from nearly thirty countries are also exhibiting.   Held in a famous movie set the Mungyeong Chassabal Festival may be the most picturesque festival in Korea. 

A Group of International Ceramic Artist

Some authorities consider it to be the best teabowl festival in the world.

Azaleas Bloom on the Beakdu-daegan

If you like to hike, you may even have the opportunity to hike a little on Korea’s famous Beakdu-daegan.   The views from the top of this mountain range are magnificent.  The Beakdu-daegan curves at Mungyeong.  We want to thank Roger Sheperd for permission to show some of his mountain photos.

The Moka Museum Home

In another home, not many miles away, at a beautiful compound museum, a national treasure Buddhist woodcarver greets his stepdaughter as she helps her mother-in-law prepare his morning tea.  Perhaps he will carve for us when we visit him.

Contemporary Tea Cups by Cho Young-Kook at the WOCEF Exhibit

In the same city, museum officials are busy preparing to go to their museum.  There is much work even now to organize the famous World Ceramic Exposition scheduled for October.

TOYO Greets WOCEF Visitors

We will visit these famous world-class ceramic exhibition halls during our 2011 tour.  As mentioned, the ceramic exposition for 2011 will open in October, a drastic change from most previous years.
Are you a little confused as to where you are in this beautiful land of Korea?  Don’t worry, we will guide you, in a more orderly fashion, as you visit these places, meet these people, and have experiences like these and many more on Tea Tour Korea 2011. 
While it carries the name “Tea Tour”, this tour encompasses far more than tea. 
Steeped in a variety of cultural experiences, well beyond what is mentioned above, this is the perfect tour to introduce anyone to Korea’s rich and varied culture – not just to view it – but to experience it.  This tour will touch the heart of Korea by visiting the artists (of several disciplines), tea areas, museums, temples and other places that make Korea’s culture what it is today.   Touch the heart of Korea and Korea may touch your heart in return.
Become a follower of this blog and register to learn more about Tea Tour Korea.  Email us at:
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Your mailing address and phone number are optional but appreciated so that we can send you information on Korea.   We keep the information private and in house.
We would appreciate it if you would include a short statement concerning your personal reasons for wanting to learn more about Korean arts and culture.
This blog is about developing Tea Tour Korea 2011 and will remain active after the tour.  Although we can’t promise you that we will ever plan another tea tour again – at least one on which we will be your hosts. 
Our goal is to make this May 2011 tour the most culturally rich Korean culture tour ever developed.  We hope that you will follow this blog as the tour develops and join us in May 2011 on what will be a fantastic journey through Korea’s rich culture.  We look forward to your comments and questions even suggestions.  Registration will provide you with extra and early tour updates, special opportunities and reserve your spot on Tea Tour Korea 2011– without obligation.  Visit for some additional information but be aware that this blog is the up-to-date site for Tea Tour Korea 2011.  The website will be updated later when we have more information.  In the meantime, last year’s information is there now – don’t get them confused.  Again, this blog is the up-to-date site for Tea Tour Korea 2011
Tea Tour Korea will take place in May 2011 and last for about 15 days.  The specific dates are coming soon.
We look forward to meeting you in Korea and to sharing some great Korean experiences with you.  Touch the heart of Korea.

Discussions on Korean tea and tea ware can be found at Morning Crane Tea blog and at dawan-chawan-chassabal blog.

1 comment:

  1. How often do visitors reach the heart of a country in this way -- its artists, its traditions, its spiritual homes? I have roots in Korea but am mostly a tea devoté. I've been tempted by tours that were tea tours only, but after seeing what you write and photograph here, I wouldn't want the tour to be anything other than what it is. "Tea only" is something I would certainly choose, but these places are larger than that; they are gateways.

    These pictures are beautiful. We're looking forward to seeing you in May!