Not many people know that there is excellent tea grown in Thailand, especially Oolong tea. The Doi Mae Salong mountain in Chiang Rai province is one of Thailand’s highest – with 1800 meters.
But what makes it more special is the climate: temperatures drop deep at night and raise high during the day time – thus causing the tea plants to grow more slowly. And when tea plants grow more slowly, that has a positive effect on their aroma: more flavorful and sweet. Plus, there is a lot of fog and many clouds surrounding the mountains, which causes the tea leaves to absorb more moisture. The air is crisp, cool and refreshing all year round, and the annual temperature is around 25 degrees Celsius.
To get there, you can take a bus from Chiang Rai to Ban Basang (15 Baht). Once in Ban Basang, just get on a songtaew and drive to the mountain top (50 baht).
You will notice a strong Chinese influence there, and many Chinese families still live there. In fact, many still speak Chinese. There’s a historical reason for that. When in 1948 China was taken over by communists, the nationalists from Yunnan fled to this area.
A lot of tea is grown and harvested in around 1300 meters high.
There are 28,125 hectares of tea plantations in Mae Salong. The most popular tea is here is Taiwanese-style Oolong, grown by Chinese descendants.
Many of the tea bushes that grow here actually are imported from Taiwan, because the climatic conditions are very similar to those of Taiwan.
While the Oolong tea from Thailand can’t keep up with Taiwan’s premium quality, you get a lot better value for your money.