First tea cultivation area
In Samguk Sagi(The History of the Three Kingdoms), it is said “Daeryeomgong, an envoy to Tang China, brought tea plant seeds in 828(3rd year of King Heungdeok of Silla Dynasty). The king ordered to plant the seeds in Jirisan (mountain). The custom of drinking tea started under the rule of Queen Seondeok but it became widespread at this time.” According to Dongguk Yeojiseungnam(The Survey of the National Geography of Korea), a monk who returned from Tang China brought tea plant seeds and planted them near Ssanggyesa(temple) in Hadong,
Gyeongnam about 1,300 years ago. From these records, it can be inferred that people drank tea long time ago. On the monument for Daeryeomggong located at the entrance of Ssanggyesa in Jirisan, it is written that tea was first cultivated in this area. In his Dongdasong(a poem about tea), Chouiseonsa said `The cultivation area of tea plants stretches about 20km around Hwagaedong in Jirisan. This is the largest tea cultivation area in Korea… In Dagyeong(a book about tea), it is said that the best tea comes from tea plants grown between rocks. The tea plants in Hwagaedong all grow between rocks and valleys'.
Hadong(Hwagae) tea during the Silla Dynasty
Tea was available as early as in the first half of 7th century under the rule of Queen Seondeok(632-647), and tea drinking custom was widespread under the reign of King Heungdeok(826~836). In Samguk Sagi(The History of the Three Kingdoms), it is said that "Daeryeomgong, an envoy to Tang China, brought tea plant seeds in 828(3rd year of King Heungdeok's reign of Silla Dynasty). The king ordered to plant the seeds in Jirisan (mountain). The custom of drinking tea started under the rule of Queen Seondeok but it became widespread at this time." According to the local product section of Jinju-mok in Sinjeung Dongguk Yeojiseungnam (The revised and augmented version of the Survey of National Geography of Korea) compiled in the first half of 16th century; tea plants were planted in Jirisan by the order of King Heungdeok.
Hadong(Hwagae) tea during the Goryeo Dynasty
When Son Deukji was in charge of book keeping in Jinyang, Yi Gyubo (1168~1241) decided to go to Hwagae and taste tea. At the time, local residents were suffering from tea tribute. Concerning the suffering of local residents and Hwagae tea, Yi Gyubo mentioned that “If I talk about having picked tea leaves in Hwagae, the government forced not only the young but also the elderly and the weak to pick tea leaves. Picking tea leaves from the steep and rocky mountains and taking them to faraway Seoul on their backs are like sucking all the juice from the people...” From this record, it is certain that Hwagae was a leading tea cultivation area at the time.
Hadong(Hwagae) tea during the Joseon Dynasty
Ha Yeon, who was a civil minister and provincial governor of Gyeongsang-do in the early Joseon period, served tea and wrote a poem when Min Uisaeng, a minister, was about to leave for China as an envoy. He wrote that “Fragrant tea is precious like jewel. I thank you and say good bye with this tea. I have heard that Hwagae valley is clean like Yangyeonsan.” And when Ha Yeon received first harvested tea from a monk, he expressed his gratitude in a poem, "It is spring time. New leaves are sprouting around Jirisan. Tea tastes better with each brewing. The color, flavor, and taste are mysterious. ” As evidenced by the story of taking Hwagae tea on a trip to China, Hwagae tea was famous in the Joseon period. Choui Ui Sun (1786~1866) wrote Dongdasong and praised Korean tea especially Hwagae tea. In his Dagyeong, he wrote “Tea grown among gravels is the best and that grown in gravelly soil is the second best.” In Manbojeonseo, he said, “Tea grown in a valley is the best. The tea field in Hwagae is not only near a valley but also crowded with rough rocks. As such, the quality of Hwagae tea should be excellent.” Choui wrote 'Dongdasong', based on his long experience of tea drinking. He said the color and fragrance of Korean tea is excellent, especially Hwagae tea. He praised Hwagae tea by saying, “Sacred roots were entrusted to a sacred mountain. These tea plants have the appearance of Taoist hermits and the disposition of noblemen. The green shoots and sprouts reach the clouds. The tea leaves sway in the breeze like the ripples on the water."