The Jeju volcanic island in South Korea is the perfect venue for any kind of museum that talks about Korea’s rich history, culture and natural resources. Jeju Island or Jeju-do is so beautiful it is dubbed the “Island of the Gods”. One of the many museums here is the Green Tea Museum, also known as O’Sulloc Tea Museum.
The main purpose of this unique museum is to educate its guests as to why green tea is so popular all over Asia, not only as an all-purpose tea but also as an ingredient for several Asian sweets and in some toiletries and cosmetic products.
Located near actual tea plantations in Seogwangdawon, the tea museum is constructed like a giant tea cup. Inside are a Tea Cup Gallery and several Tea Culture Rooms, which include the Exhibition Hall, Masters of Tea Vessels, and Tea Life Center. The Tea Cup Gallery contains ancient Korean tea cups down through the centuries, showing the development of Korean artistry and pottery from prehistoric times to the Three Kingdoms Period (Samguk), Goryeo Dynasty, and Joseon Dynasty. The gallery showcases a wide selection of cups, vessels and utensils that represent Korea’s rich culture and heritage.
The Exhibition Hall, on the other hand, offers exhibits and presentations that talk about the history of the plant, how tea came to Korea, different tea gardens in the world, processes in making tea, different uses of tea and the Korean tea culture as a whole. This section explains ancient secrets of how the tea helped in prolonging life and improving one’s health.
The Masters of Tea Vessels room is an art gallery that displays the works of major ceramic artists and masters. There are more than 30 priceless art works that include the beautiful masterpieces Cheon Han Bong of Mungyeongyo and Kim Jeong Ok of Yeongnamyo. The 30 cup styles range from the rough, simple stone art to sophisticated cup designs from more than 100 countries. On display are cups from traditional Chinese styles to European demitasse cups. Many of the cups represent the exchange of ideas and culture in the past between the East and the West.
Another room is the Tea Life Center. In the past, people had tea in the great outdoors. There are no records today to suggest the size of their outdoor tea rooms or to describe the rigid rules they followed surrounding their tea-drinking ceremonies. But it is certain that people used to enjoy their tea as close to nature as they can get.
Today, as it was in the past, tea lovers enjoy sipping a variety of tea types. The different varieties of tea depends on the time it was picked, the length of time it was fermented, the kind of plant, where it was grown, shape of the tea leaves and so on, but the most scientific way of categorizing them is by fermentation method. Inside the Green Tea Museum are 60 different types of tea from China, Japan and all over Korea.
Jeju-do’s Green Tea Museum is 40-45 minutes away from the international airport by taxi. Admission is free.