Luye, Taidung (2) The greenery tour of Wuling/Written and photographed/Hsieh Chung Li

Luye and Wuling of Taidung which lie along the old No. 9 provincial highway is a scenic spot forgotten by tourists as most traffic now ply along the new Luye and Beinan highways. Luye tea area and camphor trees provide visitors a lot of surprises and fun. In addition to colorful flowers, spring time is the best season for visitors to appreciate the brilliant green color. At the foot of Luye highland there is the Longtian Village, and the second-tier flatland is trimmed to form the Chinese character “well”. The road is straight and flat with tea leave plantations on the two sides. There are farms with neat rows of olive trees to the north of the residential clusters.

  The neat rows of low tea shrubs look magnificent especially during watering time. Luye’s famous Fulu tea is a must for seasoned travellers. Taidung has all the necessary conditions for tea planting: long hours of sunlight, high temperature, wide temperature difference and high precipitation. As a result, the crop can be grown on the soil all year round and Luye plantations have as many as 7 harvests a year – 2 harvests more than the west coast. The late winter tea is harvested at the end of December while the early spring tea is between February and March – something unheard of in the west coast. Consequently, these harvests are especially popular due to the shortage of supply.

  Historically, Luye tea plantation area is comparatively younger. During the Japanese occupation, the place grew red tea for exportation. Only in the last decades did production for domestic consumption overtake exportation. In 1982, the Fulu brand is established with the following strains: Oolong, Jinshen, Four Season Spring, and Buddha Hand. Since Luye tea farmers are relatively young, they are fast-learners and are their quick to adopt new techniques. These help popularize the name of Fulu tea.

  Luye highland is still green with budding tea shrubs in winter. A rare sight indeed in winter. As far as the eyes can see, one can but see meadow of tea gardens with industrious farmers picking tea leaves, making the rest of their time to scrub the tea leaves. Once the harvest is over, tea farmers would find time to trim their tea trees in order to be in time to harvest the fragrant “Cheng Spring Tea” after the Tomb-sweeping Festival.

  The mountain path in the north is well shaded by the dense camphor tree canopy. Slowly, a burgundy red European-styled mansion comes into view. Do not be deceived, this building is the Wuling correction center. In general, the nature trip of Wuling, Longtian, and highland can be done all year round.