Throughout traveling Chiang Rai and visiting several tea estates, one stands out as being a spectacle. On approach the facade of the plantation is a steep hill with almost perfect rows of tea plants. Mounted on one of the tea field summit are large Hollywood style letters spelling out the plantation’s name. After parking near large buses we were quickly corralled to the tasting room to watch a 3 minute movie about tea making, short tasting and shuffled on through to the gift shop. We were intrigued by the news of a large tea infused menu in their cafe, so we ventured on. On the roof there were newly built overlook platforms which made wonderful snapshot locations that the crowds of tourists took advantage of.
A short walk and several pictures later we were diving into deep fried tea leaves with a chili and vinegar sauce, sweet and spicy chicken wings topped with crispy fried tea leaves, pork dumplings and fresh tea salad and a green tea sweet bun. The deep fried tea leaves were fantastic. The coating was not greasy but just as light as the tea tip contents. The fresh tea salad was a welcoming sight and the flavor was like any other tossed salad. The flavor of pork and chicken meat in Thailand is fantastic. The freshness of old world style raising allows true flavors to remain present that American livestock has lost. These dishes were as good than those found outside the estate. The deserts were just as diverse and flavorful. They included green tea cheese cake, green tea lava cake, green tea crape layer cake, Thai tea cake and green tea honey toast. The green tea cheese cake was by far the group winner.
Chiang Rai is steeped in history since it was founded over 750 years ago. Many traditions remain unique to this northern most city, but a newer attraction called Wat Rong Khun or the White temple is the most popular. The temple is on grounds that are the play land of Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipt. For 20 years, he has been constructing an intricate White Temple along with other beautiful buildings. The basis of the artistic architecture is an exaggerated traditional Buddhist temple with a healthy dose of morality and afterlife themes. The lavish grounds continue with a large koi fish filled reflecting pond, flowering lattice shaded walkways and the most expansive bathroom I’ve ever been in.