The island of Taiwan is divided into 15 counties. All but one border the sea. This landlocked county, Nantou, is the most productive tea county of Taiwan with more than 8,000 hectares of tea plantations.
Nantou county has 12 townships including Lu Gu, Jhushan, Renai, Shueili, and Mingjian. Nantou is best-known for its oolong tea, but black tea is also produced in Yuchih county near Sun-Moon Lake.
Lu Gu Township (also spelled "Luku") has been producing tea commercially since the mid 19th century. Lu Gu Dong Ding Oolong tea has a reputation of being one of the finest oolongs in the world. The name "Lu Gu" translates as "Deer Valley" - so called because of the abundance of Taiwanese deer in earlier times. These days deer are rarely seen - they are an endangered species and have retreated into the higher mountains.
Dong Ding oolong tea is grown on Dong Ding Mountain (also spelled "Tong Ting" and means "Frozen Peak"). This area is enshrouded with fog and mist most of the year - conditions which produce tender, flavorful tea leaves. Dong Ding oolong tea is processed by a rolling technique that produces little pellets of tea leaves. This method of processing has spread to other tea areas of Taiwan and is now the most common type of high mountain oolong tea.
Lu Gu is the single largest tea-producing township in Taiwan and has built a healthy side industry in tea tourism. There are a number of resorts which cater to tea lovers by organizing seminars about tea production and conducting tours of local plantations.
The township has retained a feeling of the past by preserving many of the old buildings. This is one of the few areas in Taiwan where traditional home-style teahouses are still found.
The Farmer's Association of Lu Gu township operates a Tea Culture Museum which has displays relating to the history of tea and the development of the tea industry in Taiwan. The Farmer's Association also organizes regular tea competitions to pick the the best-quality teas from the region.