TEA PLANTATION AT UNCLE DETCH’S HOUSE
Picturesque landscapes, fresh air, quiet moments in a traditional Lanna atmosphere, and delicious tea inspired cuisine... this is what awaits you at Uncle Detch’s house in Mae Taeng.
Early morning spring mist shrouds the foothills and bamboo forest of Muang Kai, up in Mae Taeng Province, an hour and half drive from Chiang Mai city. The air is Alpine clean and the surrounding forests hum with birdsong. It’s little surprise then that this idyllic setting has been home to a tea plantation for more than twenty years -making the most of nature’s rich bounty in this beautiful and unspoilt corner of Thailand.
Uncle Detch is the owner of this tea plantation. The sixty years old sweet man welcomes guests in his restaurant when he is not working in the plantation. He presents himself as a simple farmer, but in fact he is more than that; he must be the happiest simple farmer in Northern Thailand! An enthusiast believer in late King Bhumibol’s philosophy of sufficiency economy, Uncle Detch sees life in a very positive way. For us, he recalls how he started his tea plantation:
-“At that time, my family as well as all nineteen families in the village were planting Miang, a kind of tea leaf which is picked and fermented. Eaten with salt and condiments, it is our traditional energy-boosting. I decided to try a different tea category and worked with the Royal Project. Ever since, the Royal Project has bought all my production and they have help me improve my quality of tea. Two years ago, they introduced me with a buyer from France. He was so enthusiast with my tea that he bought all the production plus the stock I had kept. It was quite a surprise for me.
I don’t have much money, but I am happy to work on my land. A few years ago, I was offered millions of Bath from promoters who wanted to build a resort on this land. What would I do with all this money? I already have my house, my car, and my land. Waking up to this beautiful view and picking up my tea is all I wish for.”
The main category of tea made in Thailand is lightly oxidised rolled Oolong, a tea style common in Taiwan. These are produced mainly from two separate plants that are hybrids from Taiwan: the Jin Xuan (number 12) and Bai Lu (number 17). Uncle Detch’s tea is call white tea, it is grown organically and comes from these two categories.
Today, the tea plantation is known for its hand-picked quality white tea. In addition, Uncle also grows beautiful orchids which are sent to the palace by the Royal Project. Although the restaurant is a recent addition to the plantation, this traditional wooden house has been here for ages. Overlooking the estate, it used to be the tea stock room and a mushroom farm. Uncle Detch has transform it into an easy-going restaurant with “a million dollar” view. From there you can see the tea plantation and as far as Pai city mountains; the different shades of green surrounding this place are just amazing! Naturally, the
key ingredient used in the kitchen is tea, and the menu is very simple: fried omelette with tea leaves, deep-fried tea leaves, tuna tea leaves spicy salad, and canned fish tea leaves spicy salad (prices varies from 49THB to 139 THB). Tea leaves used in each dish are picked on site and cooked by Uncle Detch’s daughters and nieces. A farmto- dining experience which can be enjoyed only at Uncle Detch’s tea plantation.
After lunch, you are welcome to take your tea glass and have a walk in the lush tea garden to learn about growing process. You can join resident tea pickers and watch how the leaves are processed according to age-old traditions. You can also walk in the village or decide to stay overnight at the plantation: uncle Detch’s has built two basic bungalows which are for rent at 500 THB per night.
This quiet and relaxing tea plantation is just a stop away on the way to Mae Ngat Dam or to Pai city. To get there, take the road from Chiang Mai to Mae Rim and then head to Mae Taeng (Chiang Mai-Pai road). At the intersection of Mae Ma Lai-Pai, turn left. Take the road number 1095 and continue on until you reach the Sop Peng temple. Then turn right onto 3052 and drive along the road for another 14 kilometres to the plantation (you can also use the QR code which we have added at the end of this article).
In December, the city of Muangkaen Pattana will be housing a flower festival, a few 20 kilometres away in the same area. In addition to delicious tea discoveries, go deep in Northern Thailand rural life and enjoy the atmosphere, beautiful scenery, and great village style cuisine of this event, every evening from 17.00 to 21.00 and all day during week ends.
UNCLE DETCH TEA PLANTATION :
Tunbon Muang Kay. Mae Taeng. Chiang Mai.
Tel. 081-163 3765