English4TW team brings you a short trip to a tea farm and monastery in Nantou this time.
The location of the first successful attempt at planting Assam Tea is in Sun Moon Lake; along with A-li-shan, it's one of the few Black Tea production locations in Taiwan.
Geographically at the heart of Formosa Island, Puli Township is a close neighbor to Sun Moon Lake. Standing tall here is the world's largest Buddhist monastery Chung Tai Chan Monastery.
Antique Assam Tea Farm
This journey starts by heading north on Provincial Highway 21 after leaving Sun Moon Lake.
Pay attention along the way as there are many Sun Moon Lake Black Tea signs. Look to your left not long after, there is an Antique Assam Tea Farm.
Antique Assam Tea Farm is situated half way up the mountain. You'll need to go through tea hills full of greenery to get there.
Walking your way up, you can see plantation signs indicating the type of tea plants and the year of plantation.
The Taiwan Tea No. 18 that we saw is an improved version of Black Tea. This is the high-end Black Tea in Taiwan.
With a mild taste of mint and cinnamon, Taiwan Tea No.18 is hailed as the Aroma of Taiwan by world-class Black Tea experts.
Arriving at the tea farm, you can see the tea-making machines and hear the operating noise outside the windows; however, it is not open to the public unless you arrange an appointment.
Going to their retail store, we see staff sprinkling coffee beans along the way. It's quite interesting that this Black Tea-processing factory produces a small amount of coffee beans as well.
You can see various Taiwan Black Tea products at the retail store, including Taiwan Tea No. 8, which is the closest living relative to and an improved version of the very first batch of successfully planted Assam in Taiwan in 1930s.
They provide samples. You can see the beautiful color of the tea soup under the sunlight.
Chung Tai Chan Monastery
Continuing on Provincial Highway 21 and passing through Puli urban district, you can follow the road signs to get to Chung Tai Chan Monastery after passing a highway culvert.
Chung Tai Chan Monastery was initially a small Buddhist Place of Practice by an industrial road in Taipei leading from Yangmingshan to Jin-shan.
Due to the esteemed teaching of its founder Master Wei-jue, the size of the place of practice grew larger and larger. It took 10 years to finally finish building this architecture in Puli in 2001.
Entering this little access road from Provincial Highway 21, you can see the stark contrast between farm buildings and this architecture.
Outside the entrance is a whole row of shops selling beverages and local delights. There are quite a few tourists enjoying food while relaxing here.
There is a garden before entering the main hall. The stone cow looks like the water-pond guardian.
The Chung Tai Chan Monastery main hall is 136 meters (37 stories tall). Upon entering the main hall, you'll be awed by the sculptures of the 4 kings in 4 corners.
These are sculpted from black basalt. There is one in each corner shooting from the ground all the way to the roof, looking like pillars.
Continue going upstairs, and the Buddha statue is quite different in appearance than the Protector Deities of Buddhist Law across from downstairs, displaying an air of Creative Art.