Nangang Tea Mountain 南港茶園區
As one of the most secret and unknown tourist attractions in Taipei City, Nangang Tea Mountain is a large mountain area that offers pleasant hikes, great views, historical buildings, no crowds, and most of all tea. It is one of only two mountain tea growing areas in Taipei City, the other being Maokong. Hopefully this blog will help you understand how much natural beauty and intact history this is in Nangang District.
Nangang 南港means “South Port” in Chinese. This south port once rested on the southern banks of the Keelung River near what is now the Neihu MRT depot in Nangang District, Taipei. There was a "North Port" on the Keelung river in what is now Xizhi. Nangang was once part of Neihu District before it split in the ROC era. In the earliest times, Nangang was known as an industry hub for coal, brick making, and tea farming. In order to ship goods from Neihu to Nangang rail station, at least two suspension bridges were made across the Keelung River.
Tea Processing Demonstration Center: Tuesday-Sunday 9 AM to 5 PM
How to get there:
By car/scooter: From Nangang Road at Nangang Exhibition Center MRT station, turn south toward the mountains and keep going straight on Acadamia Sinica Road until it turns into Jiuzhuang Street. Keep going all the way up the mountain and you have reached the tea district.
By bus: Take the Southeast Little 5 bus from Nangang Exhibition Center MRT station. It takes about half an hour to get to the Tea Processing Center from there.
Please see below:
I have lived in Nangang for over three years now. Sometimes my friends ask me, what's there to do in Nangang? Well there are lots of things to see and do. Nangang is a densely packed area of Taipei City acting as a transportation hub, financial center, software park, residential area, and mountain area. One of the best places to go if you love nature, history, and tea, is Nangang Tea Mountain. Nangang is not a cultural wasteland like some would lead you to believe. I might have thought that myself before actually visiting. After visiting all the major offshore Islands of Taiwan, I can tell you that every corner of Taiwan is special with tourist spots of their own, but some places are better advertised and well known than others. I don't drink tea so I won't focus too much on the tea part of this place, but I love hiking and learning about Taiwan's history, and this place has plenty of that.
Nangang Tea Mountain Officially starts in Jiuzhuang village and is all the mountain area near Jiuzhuang Street Section 2, which covers about 6 KM. There are many places to explore at Nangang Tea Mountain, but I have listed out in this blog probably the most worthwhile places to visit while you are here. The places that will be covered in this blog are as follows:
Let's get started!
Once you get into the Tea Mountain area on Jiuzhuang Street Section 2, you will see maps everywhere of trails and places to visit. It's hard to get lost here (unless you can't read Chinese).
"Jiuzhuang Tea Mountain, in the Nangang District of Taipei City is the cradle of Baozhong (Pouchong) tea in northern Taiwan. In earlier times, the Nangang area also produced coal and osmanthus scented flower tea. Walk along the Sweet Osmanthus Trail (Guihua Trail), the aroma of osmanthus blossoms fills the air here during the autumn and winter flowering season. Along the trail you can also enjoy tea-plantation scenery; together with the other attractions here - tea production demonstrations, coal mine outcroppings, and the Ancient Houses - this makes Tea Mountain well worth a visit."
Here is a "treasure map" of all the major attractions at Nangang Tea Mountain. If you find them all, you can get a small prize from the tea demonstration center.
Guihua Pavilion Observation Deck 桂花亭平臺
One of the most easy ways to get a good view is from Guihua Pavilion Observation Deck on the side of the road. There is also a tea manufacturer that lives right next to it.
From the pavilion you can see some great views of Taipei.
Yu Family Ancient House 余家古厝
Probably the most worthwile and accessible Ancient House to see in the Nangang Tea Mountain is the Yu Family Ancient House. Built by mud brick and stone, it looks like it has survived from the Qing Dynasty. In fact, the house is over 200 years old. During the Japanese Occupation of Taiwan, the Chen Qiuju Incident (陳秋菊抗日事件, a revolt of mountain farmers against the Japanese) the Japanese came a destroyed a few houses in the mountains, including this one. After it was rebuilt, it has remained the same to this day. The land near Yu Family Ancestral house has nearly 20 houses, most of them abandoned. The population in the mountains was historically much larger in proportion to what you see today. Now there are mostly elderly people that live in these places.
I spoke briefly with the now owner of the property, who keeps up the house on behalf of the family. He makes Paochong tea, and sells it here to make a living. My Taiwanese was not good enough though to have a long conversation. Also, I don't drink tea, but I do enjoy the history and beautiful natural scenery in these mountains.
An old doorway now filled in.
Some abandoned buildings next to the main Sanheyuan (three sided house).
Some really old mud brick houses being preserved by aluminum roof.
One of the old rooms is now a place to collect trash.
An extant iron bar window on one of the buildings.
The back of another mud brick building.
100 Year Old Camphor Tree Camphor Tree百年樟樹
There is a large Camphor tree behind the Yu Family Ancestral house, basically the sole survivor of what was once entire camphor forests that once covered Nangang. These were pretty much all cut down by the Japanese to harvest the chemical camphor for a variety of uses, such as making gunpowder and celluloid. The tree itself was almost cut down by the Japanese.
Further up the road, there are a few similar old ancestral houses, but I will not cover them in this blog. Feel free to go explore them yourself!
Here is a map of the main four small trails of the side of the road at Nangang Tea mountain, There is a trail that connects the Yu Ancestral house to the Guihua Suspension Bridge Trail (more on that trail below).
Nangang Tea Processing Demonstration Center 南港茶葉製造示範場
The main attraction at Nangang Tea Mountain is definitely the Nangang Tea Processing Demonstration Center. It opens every day except Monday from 9 AM to 5 PM, and guided tours and DIY activities are also available for groups or as otherwise posted. (FB Page here)
The front entrance to the tea center.
The place is quite large with two stories and lots of classrooms. I imagine a lot of field trips happen here?
This is the tea production demonstration room, but there was no tea producing going on when I visited.
Some displays available describing Nangang Pouchong Tea.
Plant dye exhibition going on.
If you go to at least five of the places on the map and share it on FB, then you can get a small gift. I don't know if this is still going on, but maybe I should go claim my gift.
Map of different species of tea in different areas of Taiwan.
Explanation of Taiwanese tea characteristics.
Further explanation of the different tea growing areas throughout Taiwan.
Plant dye exhibition.
Japanese style tea drinking room, free for the public to sit down and relax!
More relaxing space on a second floor balcony.
Suggested day trips of Nangang Tea Mountain.
View of Nangang on a hazy day from the balcony.
Newly planted tea varieties next to the building.
Map of the area, including a trail that goes around the back and two parking lots.
Time to take a selfie.
Small goose pond in front of the tea center.
Exposed Coal Mining Seam 煤礦露層
If you go to the second parking lot a little further past the center, you will see some coal seams poking out of the rocks here. I can assure you that this is real coal. Taiwan used to be a major coal mining hub before the 1980s, but the coal mining industry in Taiwan has basically stopped due to low global coal prices. For more information about the coal industry in Taiwan, see our coal mining bloghere.
Wet flowers on a dismal day.
Some more tea growing next the the first parking lot.
Tea Center Hiking Loop 環山步道
Behind the tea center is a small circular trail through the woods. The last time I visited it was not in good shape, but it is a nice way to enjoy nature.
There is a nice viewing platform here that unfortunately has not been well trimmed, so you can't really see anything from here.
A sign describing the Taipei 101 as the world's tallest building. You can tell how dated this trail is.
Part of the wooden boardwalk destroyed and rotted out. I do not recommend coming here on a rainy day.
Some tea fields near the tea center.
Luku Incident Memorial 鹿窟事件紀念碑
Just a little up the road, you will reach the edge of Nangang and enter into Shiding District. Here you will find the Luku Incident Memorial. The Luku Incident Memorial is a reflective arch statue in Shiding District of New Taipei that commemorates what is known as "the largest political event of the nation’s White Terror era." The incident involved two brothers that had started a communist party holdout in the mountains of Shiding. The resulting response, from the then martial law-era ROC government under then Dictator Chiang Kai-Shek, was thousands of police officers arresting hundreds of innocent people, with many of the people being falsely imprisoned and executed.
For more information, check out our full blog on the place here.
View of the sunset over Taipei from Luku Incident Memorial.
A little further up the road in Shiding you will find a temple and this graveyard with great views. Shiding is also full of tea feilds, as is much of northeastern New Taipei.
View of Keelung from the mountains in Shiding.
Mang grass with a backdrop of mountains in Shiding.
My scooter parked in the graveyard.
Tea fields near the tea center.
Coming back to Nangang, there are a lot more trails that you can check out. Like...
Guihua (Sweet Osmanthus Wood) Trail 桂花林步道
The Guihua Trail is a peaceful little trail in the middle of the tea mountain that leads you through a few tea farms and has some great views of Taipei.
Another unkept wooden staircase.
Some tea fields as seen from the trail.
Much of the trail is made of these nice stone steps.
Guihua Suspension Bridge 桂花吊橋
In the middle of the trail you will come across Guihua Suspension Bridge. The bridge is not historical, and was built along with the rest of the trail system in 2007. There is only one historical suspension bridge left in Nangang, Chengmei Changshou Bridge. For more blogs about the history of suspension bridges in Nangang, click here.
View of the bridge from the front.
Another view of the bridge looking down.
On the bottom side of the trail are some pavilions with some great views of Taipei.
Another view of the mountains from the trail.
The Dakeng River that runs through the bottom of the Valley at Nangang Tea Mountain.
Gengliao Old Trail Loop 更寮古道環狀道
The premier trail at Nangang Tea Mountain is definitely Gengliao Old Trail Loop, which takes you to many historical sights including the highest mountain in the area, Tuku Peak.
The trails are well paved stone for the most of it.
Jinxing Coal Mine Air Shaft 錦興煤礦通風口
If you take a left after the second Jiuzhuang Street entrance to the trail, you will come to the site of a real abandoned coal mine.
Jinxing Coal mine operated from 1956 to 1960, and is one of aout three mines built on the same seam of coal that runs from Nangang to Shenkeng. There are tons of these abandoned coal mines all over Taipei and New Taipei.
A beautiful day for a hike.
A small shrine along the trail.
Pretty soon the trail goes right in between many people's gardens.
"A walk through history at Lao Liao Ancient Trail"
"Tukuyue is also known as Ta-Ping Mountain at the elevation of 389 meters. It is a mountain in the border of Shenkeng and NanKang. According to legend, in the Qing Dynasty, a watching tower was set up at the top of mountain to guard by the armed watchman guards to defend from aborigine and bandit attacks. In the Japanese colonial period, Japanese military & police set up a watching tower and anti-aircraft units. Tukuyue is equipped with a first class triangulation point, satellite point, gravity point, first class astronomical point and cornerstone for the defense and an important landmark. They are all mountain with first class triangulation point peaks in Taipei Basin, such are CanGuangLiao Mountain, QiXing Mountain, Dadong Mountain."
Pan Family Ancient House 潘氏古厝
From looking at the map, this house seems like it is the Pan Family Ancient House. It didn't look very inviting, and there is no info about it on the internet, so I can't say much but the stonework looks like it was made during the Qing Dynasty.
Near the Pan Family House is an old shrine that is now used as a place for growing dragon fruit.
An old shed that has seen one too many typhoons.
View of the high rises in Xizhi from the trail.
Another look into the old shrine.
Some oranges trees with ripe oranges on them.
A marker on the trail reminding you that if you get into trouble you should call 110.
A marker stating that this is public land set aside for tea growing by the Nangang District Farmer's Association.
A very old grave for someone important.
That's it for that part of the loop. I was stopped by a pack of loose dogs that would not let me pass. So I started the trail again from the other side of the loop near Jiutian Temple "九天宮." Just up the trail you will also come across Chunxuan Recreational Farm. More on that later.
The trail starts out really good and wide, probably for vehicles to reach Chunxuan Farm.
The story of daylilies and toona flowers that are cultivated here, representing father and mother, and this are worshiped to bring long life to one's parents.
Tukuyue Mountain (Tuku Peak) Trail 土庫岳步道
You can choose to go straight up to Tukuyue Peak or go the long way around Chunxuan Farm.
A motorized track used to carry cargo to Chunxuan Farm.
Stone steps up to Tukuyue.
A faded explanation of different insects near the top of Tukuyue.
The final steps to the top of Tukuyue.
A brief translation of the sign above:
"Tukuyue Peak is 389 meters above sea level and sits at the boundary between Shenkeng, Nangang, Shiding, and Xizhi districts. It is said that during the Qing Dynasty a tower was built here for defense and to survey the surrounding area. During the Japanese occupation the mountain was used as a triangulation point. From the top of the mountain you can see Linkou to the South, Qixing Mountain to the North, Keelung to the East.
Qixing Mountain is a little cut off by the trees here. There is not a very good view at the top. They either need to trim some bushes or build a higher lookout tower.
The old cornerstone of the Japanese tower, I think. Oh yeah, and there was a huge group of elderly hikers that got there just before me.
The walk down.
A somewhat nice view on the way down.
Story of how the Formosan Lily is making a comeback.
View of Xizhi District of New Taipei from the trail.
Nearby you can see a hundred year old Osmanthus Tree, which produces the District Flower of Nangang (Guihua 桂花). These flowers have been added to Pouchong Teas since ancient time to make osmanthus tea.
A viewing area with better views than the top of the mountain.
Beautiful view of Nangang and Yangmingshan National Park in the background.
Closeup of Nangang, with Datun Mountain and Qixing Mountain in the background.
Chunxuan Recreational Farm 椿萱休閑農場
Chunxuan Recreational Farm looks like a fun place for elderly hikers to hang out. There is a very old ancestral house here with stone and mud brick work that I'm sure dates back to the Qing Dynasty.
It looks like tea making is a popular activity here, when it is open. I always feel kind of awkward walking past these houses that look like they are open for business but not really, and there is no one around to tell you what they do. I imagine they are trying to sell tea leaves wholesale.
Another view of the area from Chunxuan Farm.
What looks like an explanation of insects and a bug collection.
A resting pavilion with no view.
Last view of Nangang from the trail.
Shanshuilu Eco Park 山水綠生態公園
If you come to the trail from the Jiugong Temple side, chances are you will come across Shanshuilu Eco Park, which is the best park in Nangang and one of the best parks in Taipei City for that matter. The park is built on top of a used landfill, and many parts of the park are made out of recycled materials. There are also solar panels in this park.
The best part about this park though is the awesome views of Nangang and Yangmingshan.
The park also has some really fun playground equipment such as two zip-lines, a trampoline, swings, two sand pits, and slides.
There is also a viewing platform and sand pit down below.
A child playing in one of the sand pits.
Outline of Yangminshan mountains at dusk.
Night photo of Nangang taken from Shanshuilu Park.
Coming back to the tea mountain, there are more Ancient Houses and tea houses here, which are clearly marked. However I have found it hard to approach some of these places because the owners leave their dogs unleashed who bark at you if you come close...it's probably my biggest beef with this place.
Also there are tons of other trails around not covered in this blog that you can go discover.
Bonus Hike: Lesser Mt. Nangang 小南港山
Another notable hike in the area that is not official part of tea mountain is Lesser Mt. Nangang. Getting here is easy, it's literally a 5 minute walk from Nangang Exhibition Center. The views here are perhaps some of the best of Nangang (even though technically the mountain is in Xizhi District of New Taipei).
The centerpiece of the trail is the Zhongnan Cave Sansheng Temple (終南洞三聖宮). Great views of Nangang and East Taipei are everywhere.
View of Nangang and Xinyi District beyond. From this angle it looks like the Nanshan Plaza and the 101 are one building.
From here you can also see some great views of Xizhi District to the east.
Zhongnan Cave Sansheng Temple and the 101 in the background.
Flowers and city in the background.
There are also some nice places to sit and enjoy the views along the trail here. The trail loops around to near the Xizhi Hengke Library.
There is much more to be explored in Nangang and many places that I have yet to see. Hopefully this has opened your eyes on how much natural beauty and intact history sits right inside a less known corner of Taipei City.
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