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28 February 2021

China - Lao Shan - tea and beer from Qingdao

Ni hao!

We happily reached the end of the Lunar New Year celebrations. It is the fifteenth day, the Festival of Lanterns is held, we have a full moon. Everything is correct. The world goes on :).

Since celebrating the new year until the 15th day is typical of China, let's visit Shandong Province, my gate to Asia. I was there for the first time eight years ago.

Qingdao - a fantastic, young, industrial city. Full of universities, factories and innovation companies. It is also the most beautiful beaches in all of China. So iconic that the newlyweds come, sometimes covering 1000 km, to have a photo session in the background of the beautiful rocks of the Yellow Island coast - this is how the name of the city - Qingdao - is translated into English.

Rocky beaches did not come out of nowhere. Mysterious mountains appear on the south-eastern horizon. Visible from the city center, the gray granite mountains that make up the Lao Shan range have been attracting people for centuries.

The Lao Shan range is the highest coastal range in China. It covers an area of ​​446 km² and is mostly an integral part of the National Park.

These mountains may not be the highest, but 1132 m above sea leve, what the Jufeng summit rises to is quite a decent result. The entire range stretches along the coast of the Shandong Peninsula.

These mountains lie about 30 km from the center of Qingdao, making them a great base for holidays or weekends.

Shandong Province and Qingdao City are situated in the northern part of China. This is a typical temperate monsoon climate where winters are mild, with temperatures around zero, and summers very hot and very humid. The average elevation of the mountains at over 600 m above sea level gives a feeling of coolness. For this reason, especially in the summer season, in August, when the temperatures are the highest, residents and tourists willingly go to the Lao Shan mountains to experience a bit of coolness and rest from the heat.

The Lao Shan range is a typical granite range of mountains that was formed at the glacier crossing in the late Pleistocene. The present relief was maintained due to erosion by the melting waters of the receding glacier.



Taoism and the Temples

The trip to the mountains takes about 40 minutes. driving a car and then a 3 to 4 hour stay, which we will spend moving between points worth visiting. There are countless viewpoints. I will focus on a few that I am pleased to recommend to you.

The most important advantage of Lao Shan is that it produces a unique, top-quality, one-of-a-kind green tea.

The second reason I like Lao Shan Mountains is spring water.

Taoist temples are the third magnet.

One of the curiosities related to this point is the fact that the Lao Shan Mountains are considered one of the sources of Taoism. It was here that the first Taoist temples operated, which were at the same time a center of education, creating faith, creating books and the entire philosophy of Taoism.

There were many temples, while few have survived to this day, including the most famous Temple of the Supreme Purity and the Temple of Great Purity and the Temple of Supreme Peace. The first two temples are also the source of deep water springs.

In the most beautiful period of the development of temples, more than 1,000 monks lived and worked there.

The largest of the surviving temples, including the Temple of Supreme Purityand the Temple of Great Purity, are located in the coastal strip of the Yellow Sea, at the foot of Mount Lao and Pantao Peak.

While visiting the temple you will come across the statues of the Taoist Trinity - The Grand Pure One, The Supreme Pure One and the Jada Pure One, the three main gods of this religion. It is also worth paying attention to the cypresses growing there. They were planted during the rule of the Han dynasty. It is about 100 years BC!

There is also a legend connected with this place that Emperor Qin Shi Huang and Emperor Wu of Han went to the Lao Mountains in search of their dead ancestors, and also to acquire immortality.

Judging by the fact that I did not meet them in the mountains, I dare say that, unfortunately, the purpose of this trip has not been achieved ;).

In the area of ​​temples, just off the road leading through the foothills of the entire mountain range towards the south, returning to Qingdao, you will also encounter another attraction, Longtan Waterfall, whose waters fall from a height of over 20 m.


Trees and water... 

Another interesting fact is connected with the trees growing in the Lao mountains. Since many trees have been growing there since the Han dynasty, so it has been for over 2,000 years, there have been many legends about their supernatural powers. One of the trees in the temple complex, whose trunk consists of three separate intertwining parts, is said to bring luck to the casino players. Masses of compulsive gamblers come to Lao Shan to, according to legend, ensure their happiness in the game. The task is simple. Collect 3 different splinters, each from one part of the trunk of this tree. They cannot be obtained by force. Collect those that have fallen off the trunk by themselves. The only question is whether these are collected from 3 different parts of the tree trunk?

Well. As I did not see gamblers getting rich in the three years that I lived in China, I must say once again that this parable also needs to be proven.

Regardless of whether these stories are true or not, it is always worth believing in something. If you are in the Qingdao area, go to this place. First, to meet the ghosts of their dead ancestors. Perhaps you will be lucky and become immortal. Secondly, to visit the oldest tree near the temple, collect three pieces of wood from 3 different parts of the trunk of that tree and you can win a fortune in one of the casinos.

But let's get back to reality.

As I mentioned earlier, the Lao Mountains are a source of extraordinary purity and quality of spring water. It is extracted from deep-sea seams and used to produce bottled water and beer at a nearby brewery.

The water is bottled and sold throughout China as the highest quality brand. I can only confirm. Lao Shan water tastes much better than any other water available in China

It is the purity and quality of water that makes TsingTao beer one of the best beer brands in the world. The brewery located in the mountains uses water directly from the source.

The company has several breweries all over China, but gourmets of the golden drink will immediately recognize which can or bottle contains beer made from water from the Lao Shan mountains.


Green Tea

There is one more reason why you should visit the Lao Shan mountain range. This is the green tea grown there.

The tea plantations are situated at heights that are the highest in all of China. As a result, tea grown at this height acquires a distinctive, strong taste and brings out its full aroma during brewing.

The shrubs have slightly longer leaves than those grown in the lowlands, and during the drying and fermentation process, the leaves curl into slightly larger balls. During the preparation of the infusion, the water easily penetrates these clusters, they develop into long and slightly narrower than standard tea leaves. This makes the surface that releases aromas and dyes larger and makes the prepared tea taste exceptional.

While driving through the tea plantations, you can stop by the houses where you can see the entire tea production process. You can also buy home tea of ​​unique quality.

The cost of 100 g of this unique green tea is usually 150 yuan, which is about $ 20.

When buying, you can see the dryers, see how the leaves are selected and learn how to properly brew green tea. Driving through the tea fields, you can see how the workers collect the top leaves from the tips of the twigs and with what care they put them in the baskets on their backs.

The quality of Lao Shan tea is evidenced by the fact that one portion of the leaves can be brewed eight times. Yes, you can add hot water to the same teapot eight times and the brew obtained in this way will always have the same high-quality taste, color and will give off fantastic aromas. Note that the water must not be more than 85 ° C.

Strengthened with freshly prepared tea, we can go on a tour of other attractions.

During the trips, you can admire the coast of the Yellow Sea, the waterfall and enjoy the local cuisine.

Taking fresh air, which in the summer is at a temperature of about 21 degrees, brings relaxation from the heat of the city, refreshes and fills you with optimism. We don't have to wear anti-smog masks here.


Qingdao - "Yellow Island"

At the same time, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that due to the proximity of the city, these mountains are a common destination for family trips. Visiting them on public holidays and weekends carries the risk of crowds and crowds at all attractions.

My recommendation? It is better to go on weekdays to ensure you have easy access to all the places worth visiting.

The best way to reach Lao Shan is by car. Let me remind you that a one-way trip takes about 30-40 minutes. Visiting the attractions takes another 3 to 4 hours. If we add tea shopping and learning how to brew it, we need an extra hour. Return another 40 minutes or an hour if we hit the rush hour.

To ensure our time comfort, we need 6.5 hours. The cost of renting a seven-seater VAN is 600 RMB, or about $100. The price includes a driver as a guide, a car for the day and a package of unforgettable impressions.

Line buses also run to the entrance to the National Park. However, this method will not provide you with the opportunity to visit all attractions in one place. In addition, there is a language barrier and you are a bit embarrassed by the time the bus leaves the bus stop in the mountains.

Sunset is coming after a day in Lao Shan.

Sipping green tea or, if you prefer, the unique TsingTao beer, we relax and admire how the "orange ball" plunges into the waters of the Yellow Sea ...


Thank you  “Yellow Island”,  

Xie Xie! QingDao

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