Da Yu Linghas long been a legendary place for most experienced tea lovers. Hearing its name is exciting and yet a bit hard on the wallet, however, its taste is simply extraordinary. This palace in the clouds has an almost mysterious power over us with its precious jade oolong.
But is it really that "holy" in reality? What are those "105K, 102K" terms we will hear when talk about Da Yu Ling? To find out, Taiwan Sourcing did a special report to find out the true face of Da Yu Ling, and that journey began at 12:00 AM.
That was not a typo, we headed to Da Yu Lingat midnight to avoid the unwanted traffic on the narrow road, only to find out the more horrifying thing ahead which will be revealed later.
(below: It was extremely beautiful to take this photo at 12:00AM, meanwhile it was also extremely cold. Photo taken when driving by Hehuanshan Area)
(below: Clouds coming down from the ridge due to cold air. Photo taken when driving by Hehuanshan Area)
The road was narrow and twisted ahead at every corner as we climbed in elevation. Night time comforted the exhausted driver with its deep but tender darkness which cloaked the sheer drop as we drove along the edge. The road continued endlessly mountain after mountain and hill after hill, but that's not the most scary thing when driving to Da Yu Ling at night...
20-tons trucks that frequent this road at night with their colorfully shining LED lights are what scared us the most. These trucks are not only huge and wide, but also relentlessly tried to pass us even on blind curves. We had no choice but to squeeze to the side (with a sheer drop only a foot away) to allow them to pass.
(below: This is the beast that stressed us out - the "Crazy Night Vegetable Truck" that roared at night. It is hilarious to witness by daylight parked unassumingly by the side of the road.)
So why do we call it the "Crazy Night Vegetable Truck"?
That is because in the high mountains of Taiwan are not only tea producing areas but also provide the perfect climatic conditions for growing temperate vegetables (like cabbage). The extreme diurnal amplitude in high mountain environment stimulates carbohydrate production, which results in a sweeter and more crunchy cabbage. The same thing applies to tea as well, and that is why Taiwanese kept growing their teas with higher and higher elevation.
So here comes the question. Is it a really good thing to grow teas at an elevation this high? Is there something missing in these teas compared to a lower elevation like Alishan?
(below: Driving at 2:00 AM in the mountain isn't easy. This picture was taken under a relatively safer condition)
We finally arrive at the Fushoushan Farm Resting area at 3:00 AM with a snoring co-driver and an exhausted driver who was driving desperately in the absolutely silent and darker path. Sleeping in the car was not particularly charming (or comfortable), but that was all we had, and rest came easily after such a tiring experience driving on these mountain roads!
(below: The moon is extremely bright and friendly at elevation of 2600 M. The parking spot is definitely not so friendly for people who sleep in their car, which we discovered the next day.)
(below: Hehuanshan was solemnly stunning at night, any attempt to describe it with words would be inadequate. Photo taken when driving by Hehuanshan Area)
Stay Tuned for The True Face of Da Yu Ling - Part 2 (Coming Soon!)