Hakka Settlement in Beipu, Hsinchu

Beipu Township is located in Hsinchu County. During the Qing Dynasty, it had a mixed population comprising of people from the Saisiya indigenous tribe and the Plains indigenous tribe. It is now mostly Hakka and is the area with the highest proportion of Hakkas in Taiwan. It is representative of a typical traditional Hakka settlement. There are many historic buildings in the small old district, as well as rich intangible cultural assets, such as Ghost Festival and traditional Hakka songs, which blend with the unique and old Hakka settlement atmosphere.

Beipu was the base for the Hakka immigrants in the Daoguang Period of the Qing Dynasty. The process of Hakka ancestors’ settling down in this area in those days can still be seen in some architectural features built for defense on Beipu Old Street. This early Hakka settlement consisted mainly of Hakka immigrants from Huizhou prefecture in China’s Guangdong province, as well as some Hakka immigrants from the Jiaying Prefecture and the Chaozhou Prefecture of Guangdong. The name Beipu means “the undeveloped land in the north,” and in the past, it was also known as the "Daai Beipu Village" or "Daai United Village."

In 1834, due to frequent conflicts between the longtime indigenous population and the newer Han Chinese settlers, the “Jin Guang Fu Daai (金廣福大隘)” was set up by the Guangdong Hakkas and Fujian Minnan people so that they can join forces against the indigenous people and develop the land for their own needs. As a result, the area was collectively referred to as "Jin Guang Fu Daai," the name of the local authority’s command center at the time.

Jiang Family Shrine © Tourism Bureau (Photo credit: Liao Kui-mei)

During the Japanese occupation period, Japanese people valued the tea resources of Beipu and set up a tea industry testing site here. The tea produced here was exported to Japan, where it was very popular. So tea factories were set up everywhere, bringing a prosperous life for Beipu’s residents. However, after the most prosperous tea production company in Beipu, Jiang A-xin (姜阿新), went bankrupt, and its subsidiary company Yong Guang went out of business in 1964, the Beipu tea industry suddenly declined.

In recent years, with the efforts of local tea farmers, Beipu tea has once again become well-known; it is also known as Baihao Oolong Tea or Oriental Beauty Tea, which is the highest quality representative of Taiwan’s oolong tea. In 2004, the Beipu Tea Production and Marketing Class won first place in the “Hsinchu County 2005 Local Industry Flagship Products” contest with “Beipu Peng Feng Tea.” The Beipu Tea Production and Marketing Class then decided to promote the brand name of “Beipu Mountain Tea” and establish a brand in Beipu, hoping to market Beipu tea products widely.

Beipu Lei cha © Tourism Bureau (Photo credit: Yeh Yu-qing)

Due to its popularity, Beipu Old Street sees a lot of tourists on weekends and holidays. There are seven historical monuments in just a short 200-meter stretch of the old street, making it the place with the highest density of historical monuments in Taiwan, attracting many people to come here. Locally produced dried persimmon cakes are popular among tourists and have become a must-have gift for their unique taste and aroma. On Beipu’s Old Street, not only can you taste Hakka cuisine made with fresh local agricultural specialty products and Hakka Lei tea, you can also feel the simple Hakka style and experience the local culture. Beipu has become a popular place for sightseeing in recent years.