<strong>South Korea</strong>
South Korea

South Korea has a humid climate, moderated by the ocean, and the milder regions of the country are suited to growing tea. The precipitation pattern in South Korea follows the strongly seasonal pattern of the Asian monsoon, with very wet summers and drier winters. South Korea's traditional tea and tea drinking culture is believed to have begun during the Gaya Kingdom around 48 AD, brought by monks returning from studying at China's great Buddhist schools and temples. While today much of South Korea's tea is grown in large commercial tea gardens and machine harvested, there is still a small amount of hand-plucked leaf from wild, indigenous plots of tea, some of which were planted centuries earlier. One story tells of King Heungdeok (826-836) planting tea seeds on Jiri Mountain, where today large areas of wild tea still grow and are harvested to make small batches of artisan tea. For the most part, South Korea's tea industry today is fairly modern with most tea gardens developed in the 20th century, except for the temple gardens located in Hadong County.  The Japanese developed many lush, cultivated tea gardens and this is one reason the rows of tea are rounded like those in Japan, rather than flat.  But that's where the similarities end, because South Korea's tea is uniquely theirs.

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