The valley south of Taipei is known as MAOKONG (貓空; māokōng), one of Taiwan’s oldest tea-growing areas and beloved for its teahouses, temples and romantic night views of the city. Production of Tiěguānyīn (a high-quality, semi-fermented oolong tea) began here in the 1880s, though Bāozhŏng (another type of oolong) is just as prevalent. In both cases production is relatively small and it’s “tea tourism” that brings in the cash today. In 2007 the 4km Maokong Gondola (貓空纜車; māokōng lǎnchē) linked Maokong and Zhinan Temple with Taipei Zoo, further boosting visitor numbers. It’s definitely the most appealing way to get there, with gasp-inducing views of the jungle-smothered slopes and city beyond.

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