02 May Visiting a Taipei Tea House and Riding in a Crystal Cabin on the Maokong Gondola
Our tiny cabin dangled from a cable as we stared through the clear glass on the floor. We rose up, higher and higher, towards the lush, green mountains. The floor to ceiling windows gave us views of towering skyscrapers mixed with rugged mountains. We were on our way to a traditional tea house in Taipei, Taiwan. Riding in a Crystal Cabin on the Maokong Gondola couldn’t have been a more scenic way to arrive.
Although it was easy to navigate, it was quite a journey to reach the tea house. Our morning started out with us hopping on the Brown Line of the MRT and riding the train to the Taipei Zoo Station. Then, after a short walk, we arrived at the Maokong Gondola. We heard the lines for the gondola can get quite long, so we let out a sigh of relief when we found almost no one else there. Jackpot!
Since there were only seven other people in the vicinity, we happily jumped into the line for the popular and scenic Crystal Cabins, aka the glass cabins! There are 147 cabins on the gondola route and 31 of them are “Eyes of Maokong Gondola” Crystal Cabins. Because of our luck with the lack of crowds, we had a private car for the duration of our ride to Maokong Station.
The entire one-way ride in the cable car takes around 20-30 minutes and covers a distance of 4.03 km (2.5 mi). By the time we arrived at Maokong Station, we were starting to get quite hungry. Thankfully, there was a convenience store right by the exit of the gondola. We always love exploring grocery and convenience shops in different locations—it’s so fun to see all the different treats and gamble on trying mystery items. We grabbed a couple of surprise snacks, and then started on our walk to the tea house.
The Maokong area used to be the largest tea growing region in Taipei, but it is now a place to soak up tea culture with unbeatable views. To get to the tea house we were planning on visiting, Yao Yue Teahouse, we had a 30-minute walk ahead of us. We really enjoyed the walk, but if you don’t feel like hoofing it, there is also a bus line that follows the main road in the area.
Throughout our stroll, we spotted tea plantations, temples, houses, and an abundance of tea houses. We wanted to visit the Tea Promotion Center along the way (where you can learn about the process of producing tea, methods of tea tasting, and more), but unfortunately, it was closed the day of our visit. Another activity on our list was hiking along the Zhangshu Trail, but the misty, rainy weather made us steer away from that activity, too.
Even with the rainy weather, the views throughout Maokong were beautiful. It was refreshing to be surrounded by so much nature just a short distance from a bustling city.
We decided to visit Yao Yue Teahouse because of its views and traditional style of brewing tea. When we arrived, we were shown to a table out on the terrace. Our server brought us over menus with a tea-set and gave us brief instructions on how to brew our own tea.
Yao Yue Teahouseis open 24 hours. If you arrive hungry, they have a food menu in addition to their lengthy tea menu. Due to our snacks on the walk over, we were not hungry, so we didn’t order any food. The table next to us did, though, and it looked really tasty, especially the tea-infused dumplings.
To order, you purchase a tin of tea and then rent the teapot for the duration of your visit. After perusing the tea menu, we settled on a tea that was grown in the mountains surrounding us. There is a fairly lengthy process to brew the tea that involves heating up the water, using the water to heat up the teapot and cups, steeping the tea, smelling the tea in the smelling cups, and so on.
We worked our way through each step and found it very relaxing. The ritualistic approach gave us time to slow our minds and immerse ourselves in nature. With the views of tea plantations surrounding us, it almost felt like we were in the middle of nowhere.
In total, we spent a couple hours soaking up the quietness of Maokong on a rainy day in Taiwan. Once we were full of tea and completely relaxed, it was time to head back to our hotel. We gathered our belongings and walked back to Maokong Station. We debated taking the bus back to town, but we figured could use the exercise. We happened to luck out with another Crystal Cabin all to ourselves for the ride back down.
Spending time in the mountains surrounded by tea plantations was one of our favorite days in Taiwan. Not much can beat a day out in nature with a good cup of tea!