Tea in Thailand? It’s too hot! It’s never to hot for tea!
As far back as I can remember, tea has always been a part of my life and the beverage of choice for just about any occasion. At the family home in England, the kettle would always be simmering away on the Aga and you’d always have a nice cup of tea in your hand by the time you entered the kitchen.
So before you read this blog post, do your self a favor and make a nice cup of tea, kick back and savor the flavor.
But what of the Tea in Thailand?
When you think of Thailand, you don’t naturally think of Tea. Palm trees, deserted beaches, beautiful girls and big smiles but never tea, unless you have tried ‘Thai Iced Tea’ or ‘Thai Iced Green Tea’ on your holiday.
Thai Iced Tea is a strongly brewed tea mixed with spices, sugar and condensed milk and/or coconut milk and is a popular drink over ice in Thailand. This sweet, beverage has it’s time and place, (my Father loves it) but it’s not what this article is about.
Most expats in Thailand pine for a cup of PG Tips, Tetley Tea or even Yorkshire Tea, myself included but the only tea bag brands widely available here is the tasteless Twinings and insipid Lipton’s. Let’s not go there!
Forget the convenience of tea bags and try the quality oolong, black and green teas that are cultivated right here in Thailand.
When my wife asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday this year, I knew straight away, I wanted to tour several tea plantations in northern Thailand and drink tea… lots of tea.
So we headed to Doi Mae Salong and neighboring Chaing Rai with a mission to drink all the tea in Thailand.
It always strikes me as being ironic that the most quintessential of British drinks, the nations favorite beverage, is tea and it’s cultivated in India, Sri Lanka or China.
Doi Mae Salong is a breathtaking mountainous area near the Myanmar border in the Golden Triangle. Tea is now the crop of choice having replaced opium cultivation in the area. This was a successful initiative of the Royal Development Project to replace one crop with another and while protecting the farmer’s income.
Thailand’s tea industry isn’t big, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up in quality. Some of the green and Oolong teas it produces are among the most expensive and most desired teas in China (Selling tea to China? The Chinese have all the tea in China but they want more… more!) and Taiwan where there is a strong demand for high-quality teas. All the tea plantations we visited were also organic.
While buying a bottle of local Mulberry wine (Yeah, I drink wine too) on the night of our arrival, I got talking to a local tea merchant whose son looked after the family business in Taiwan. He became our unofficial driver and guide the next day. Not only did he take us to the best tea plantations in the area but he also took us round the family coffee and strawberry farms.
101 Tea Plantation
Perhaps the largest of the tea plantations in the area we visited was 101 Tea Plantation. We were able to freely walk between the plants, talk to the tea pickers and taste several of their award winning oolong teas.
If you only visit one tea plantation in Doi Mae Salong, 101 is the place to go.
More Tea in Doi Mae Salong
The Tea Center is another destination not to be missed. We ordered Matcha green tea and cake and sat outside breathing the crisp clean air while admiring the stunning views of the valley below us. The Tea Center tea shop and a retail area sell beautiful tea sets, urns and countless types of teas including herbal teas.
Boon Rawd Farm Tea Plantation
Doi Mae Salong hasn’t got the monopoly on all the tea in Thailand. Chiang Rai has its fair share of tea too. (Surprisingly so has Kanchanaburi, but that’s another trip). We cycled around Singha Park and took afternoon tea with a fresh tea salad on the Boon Rawd Farm (agro-tourist attraction) overlooking the tea plantations and mountains beyond.
The Boon Rawd Farm tea plantation is one of the largest in Thailand and produces over 400 tons of high quality oolong tea annually. Their premium teas are now available in bags so there is no excuse now for drinking poor quality teas in Thailand.
Let us know what tea you enjoy drinking in Thailand in the comments below.
All the Tea in Thailand