Persimmons and crabs are the two food items that come to mind when I think of fall. This attraction in Hsinchu is seasonal and may not show up in most of the Taiwan travel guide. But it is certainly worth visiting if you are planning a day trip in northern Taiwan or trying to come up with a stop along a big road trip.
We went to this persimmon orchard in Hsinchu (新竹) on the way back home after visiting grandma in a mid-October afternoon. This hilly area, Hsinpu (新埔) in Hsinchu county, is known for dried persimmons. The hilly terrace northeast of Hsinpu blocks rain clouds brought by the winder northeast monsoon and creates a dry climate. Locals call this wind September wind (九降風). The dry weather makes Hsinpu a perfect place for making dried persimmons.
There are a few persimmon orchards in this area. Weiweijia (味衛佳) is the most famous. This private orchard is very touristy. Lots of photographers come here in October to capture the gorgeous scene of persimmon orange and gold. There are even benches and stools available for people to shoot close-ups or get a different perspective. Orchard workers are used to being photographed. Some even pose for tourists as they rotate trays of persimmons drying on the rack.
Weiweijia keeps the traditional way of making persimmon cakes. Persimmons are harvested in September. Workers wash and peel persimmons by hand or machine. After being peeled, the golden persimmons are charcoal-grilled and dried under the sun. Then workers press and shape the persimmons and bring them back to the outdoors racks to dry some more. Finally they are roasted in the baking chamber for disinfection. Then the dried persimmon cakes are ready to be packaged for sell.
The golden and reddish-orange persimmons shine under the sun. The gold is perfect with blue sky as a background. The warm orange filled the place with fall colors.
The final products of dried persimmons are called shibing (柿餅) or shigan (柿乾). The former is less dry. You can eat it as a snack or make dessert with it. The latter is usually used in chicken soup. Weiweijia sells persimmon popsicles with chunks of shibing in them. They also sell fresh calyces of roselle hibiscus, hibiscus juice and hibiscus popsicles.
The orchard is open to tourists for free all year round. Dried persimmon cake season starts in September and ends in January. The best time to visit is sunny days in mid-October.
Weiweijia persimmon tourist orchard
No.53, Ln. 283, Sec. 1, Hankeng Rd., Xinpu Township, Hsinchu County