Boseong is known for it’s large and vibrant green tea fields, and is considered one of the most scenic places to visit in all of Korea. Each spring, there is a large festival celebrating green tea in all forms and I consider it an absolute MUST if you are in Korea in May.
After spending a wonderful day at the Jindo Parting of the Sea Festival (where, unfortunately, the sea didn’t actually part), we enjoyed a peaceful and gorgeous time at the 보성다향대축제 (Boseong Green Tea Festival). The festival is so large, with more free tea samples than you could ever taste. Tea sets, accessories, soap, candles, and anything else associated with tea was being sold there.
One of the best parts of this festival is that you are given a basket and can pick as many green tea leaves as you wish! All free! For first-time tea pickers it definitely wasn’t something that came intuitively. And, there were lots of spiders. But, it was so much fun to pluck the supple green leaves and look over the beautiful landscape.
My favorite part was the tea tasting! Every stall and tent offers free samples of tea, tea products, and snacks. We ate tea-infused rice (amazing!) and cookies, and were given over fifteen different kinds of teas, hot and iced. The vendors encourage you to sit and savor, and even though there have limited seating they never rush you or push you to purchase anything. In fact, we got lots of free tea samples to take home with us as well!
We bought beautiful floral tea drinks and soaked our feet in the public foot baths. It was totally refreshing! At the same stall selling the drink we also purchased burdock tea to brew at home. It has a vibrant red hue and is used for medicinal purposes for those suffering from acne, a weak immune system, fever, and more.
We tasted a matcha blend and spoke with the man selling it. He was the farmer, the brewer, and the vendor! Talk about a full time job.
Also, we participated in a green tea meditation. This was an extra 5,000 WON, but was a wonderful experience. First, we sat down and washed our face. Then, we were given a palmful of green tea leaves (full leaves, not minced like in a tea bag). We smelled the tea and put it at the bottom of a large bowl and filled it with steaming hot water.
We were instructed to put our face as close to the water as we could bear and breathe in. They placed towels over our head to keep the steam and heat inside. It was delightfully hot and aromatic, and my skin felt magnificent. As we marinated, the woman led us through a meditation and breathing exercise with peaceful music:
“I like you. I love you. Happy, happy. Green Tea.”
The woman softly rubbed our shoulders as we breathed in unison to this mantra, watching the tea leaves unfurl and come back to life in the hot water. Cain recalls watching a drop of sweat dripping down his nose and into the bowl, and drinking it. Waste not, want not. And, because the woman wanted selfies with us, we had to take selfies with her.
Overall, the Boseong Green Tea Festival highlighted how beautiful and restorative the act of brewing and drinking tea can be.