tea houses in mao kong

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After taking a day to acclimate, I headed up to Mao Kong in Southeastern Taipei. The number S10 bus took me up the winding mountain to some of the most beautiful tea houses I've seen. Stunning temples dot hillsides with several arteries of hiking trails for those who want to earn their tea and dim sum. 

A couple of favorites for different reasons include Shang Yang Tea house, which served one of the best Jin Xuan's I've ever seen or tried. Dark emerald green tea glistened in the yixing pot. After a 13-hour flight and the rigors of engaging in a new culture, this was a most welcomed tidbit from the heavens.

Yang Syu Yang tearoom is spectacular for it's decor and views. The tea is not superb, but the views, and even the gold-leaf wallpaper make up for whatever is lacking in the leaf.  This tea house features an indoor koi pond, with stepping stones over a bridge to a number of private rooms with carved doors and windows that overlook Taipei, temples, and the lush tropical flora of Taiwan.

For those who don't mind heights, a gondola will take visitors up (or down) the mountain, offering panoramic views of Taipei and the tea houses and temples tossed across the landscape like so many jewels flung from the hands of ancient gods.

Tea Oil Noodles at Shang Yang Tea House in Mao Kong/Taipei

Food is served at the tea houses as well, and at a fraction of the cost of the tea.  I enjoyed "Tea Oil Noodles" at Yang Shang Tea House and the dumplings at Yang Syu Yang.   Just a couple of dollars will buy some amazing home made dim sum. 

I couldn't manage to tear myself away, and as night descended, decided to brave the gondola the trip down the mountain rather than wait an hour for the bus (which had just come and gone). Bravery has its rewards: the views were stunning with Taipei 101, one of the tallest buildings in the world, glittering in the distance. 

Coasting through the dark, starry sky, you can hear cicadas chirping along the side of the mountain and the dark sky means one isn't completely aware of the gondola's altitude.  More coming soon, including a few videos.
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