By Ili Aqilah, Nantini Krishnan & Tan Mei Kuan
Tin miners of yore would have been very surprised if they were told there was gold in Gopeng. And wondering what they had missed. Yet there behind a high crenellated wall designed to resemble the Great Wall of China, sits the Gaharu Tea Valley, on 300 acres of land planted with Gaharu or Agarwood trees, known as the ‘Wood of Gods’ or more commonly, ‘black gold’.
Gaharu is the resinous, fragrant and highly valuable heartwood produced by the Aquilaria tree which has been widely used by the aromatic industry. When the trees are infected with mold, it begins to produce an aromatic resin in response to this attack. As the infection grows, it results in a very rich, dark resin within the heartwood. The resin is commonly called gaharu, jinko, aloeswood, agarwood, pokok karas or oud and is valued in many cultures for its distinctive fragrance, and thus is used for incense and perfumes and medicine. And hence the name ‘black gold’.
Emperors, royal families, noblemen and the rich used it for medicinal purposes
Gaharu Tea Valley Gopeng is the only organic plantation with 300 acres of the species 12-in-1 Aquilaria spp. trees. Due to its uniqueness, this special species of Gaharu has been aptly coined as HOGA (Holistic Gaharu).
There are seventeen species of Gaharu such as Subintegra, Crassna, Malaccensis and Baillonil and many more. The special species of 200,000 Gaharu trees planted here in the Gaharu Tea Valley coupled with other surrounding natural scenery has made Gaharu Tea Valley Gopeng a main tourist attraction.
The Founder and Chairman of Gaharu Tea Valley Gopeng is David Ho Kwan Meng. David Ho was an excavator supplier before starting the Gaharu plantation. He instinctively knew that a Gaharu plantation has a huge market potential and high commercial value based on research and statistics and he decided to plant Gaharu seedlings.
David learnt about Gaharu during his elementary school days when his school teacher used to tell him stories about how the Chinese emperor sent his ambassadors to Southeast Asia to look for Gaharu. This left a deep impression on David and later on recollecting this childhood story, David took the plunge, diverted his career path and started a Gaharu plantation with the recommendation of a Japanese researcher.
This Gaharu researcher who was from a generation of Japanese imperial doctors, succeeded in studying the pollination of Gaharu species and his new technology needed suitable soil to grow the quality Gaharu. This same researcher came to Gopeng and brought along 200 Gaharu seedlings. Fortune smiled when David met the researcher by chance and thus began the Gaharu Tea Valley Gopeng. However, it took fifteen years before the seeds could be germinated and it was by dint of sheer hard work and determination that the Gaharu Tea Valley is the flourishing business and main tourist attraction that it is today.
Parks and Attractions
For the best experience in HOGA, visitors are advised to purchase the tour ticket at HOGA’s ticket counter. Only HOGA’s official vehicles are allowed to be used to go around the valley including the parks and other attractions.
1. Gaharu Great Wall
Following the same purpose of having a strong wall like the Great Wall of China, HOGA Gaharu is surrounded by a 3m high, 6m wide strong concrete wall and it is built to protect the 300-acre land from possible intrusion. Upon climbing up the wall, visitors will get a chance to see the full view of the lush green of HOGA hill.
2. Hugging Park
While enjoying the green view of Gaharu Tea Valley, guests are encouraged to spend some time at the hugging park. Drawings of pandas, tigers, orang-utan, cats, dogs and birds are painted on the trees by local artists and guests are allowed to take as many pictures as they want. The name ‘Hugging Park’ was given because of the auspicious custom of hugging trees, especially the Gaharu and has been practised in Middle Eastern culture.
3. Lovers’ Park
In the midst of Gaharu trees, lie a park called the lover’s park. The main attraction? Two huge trees intertwined with each other in the middle of the park. It is said that lovers who make a love oath under the tree will be blessed with everlasting romance. The park is decorated with pink-coloured flowers and romantic decorations that will definitely spark some romance between couples.
4. Viewing Stage
Guests who wanted to see another side of the 300 acres of Gaharu trees would love the view on this three-storey viewing stage. The wall of this stage is painted with 3D drawings where guests can enjoy taking photos. The third floor is still under progress and hopefully will provide another fun attraction like the rest.
Medicinal Value of Gaharu
Breathing the fresh air in the 300-acre Gaharu plantation is believed to be good for health. Invaluable negative ions released from the 200,000 plants’ branches, leaves and flowers help disinfection, removal of fatigue, stimulate the autonomic nervous system, promote emotional stability, and prevent organ diseases. In addition, Gaharu aroma can stimulate the central nervous system and balance emot
The use of Gaharu, also known as Black Gold, harks back to as early as 600 AD in various kingdoms of the world. Emperors, royal families, noblemen and the rich used it for medicinal purposes. Gaharu incense is said to have a calming effect and can increase body energy. It is also an important component of traditional Chinese and Malay medicine. As early as the 8th century, Muslim and Indian traditional medicine dispensing records showed that Gaharu was used as incense.
The protected tree is claimed to adjust one’s magnetic field, defusing negative energy and can bring endless inspiration. The hybrid Gaharu trees can make 36 types of products such as Gaharu tea, Gaharu oil, Gaharu chips, Gaharu cookies, Gaharu tea leaf eggs, Gaharu ice cream, Gaharu cosmetics, Gaharu noodles and anti-cancer medicine to name a few. All are available at HOGA Deli and HOGA Mart.
HOGA Gaharu Tea is made of fresh leaves and foliage from the finest quality Gaharu trees which are uniquely cross-bred. The end product is a result of stringent quality control using special technology. Because of the unique formula in HOGA Gaharu tea, the method used in harvesting the leaves and the process of making are also different. Unlike harvesting other types of tea leaves which is plucking the foliar buds from the shoots, two-year-old branches and leaves are cut down before separating them manually. The branches and leaves will then mix with other Gaharu leaves and branches from trees of more than 15 years old, followed by the cleaning and sterilising process.
HOGA Gaharu Tea is formulated according to the ancient royal medicinal record which is able to help maintain the balance and harmony of our body system. Therefore, it is for long-term consumption. Tastes mellow and sweet, HOGA Gaharu Tea is processed without fermentation, preservatives, colouring and it is caffeine-free.
The Gaharu Tree leaf contains high levels of anti-aging, anti-cancer properties which scientific research has identified as Androsterone, Decanoic acid, Vitamin E, Demecolcine and Tranylcypromine and many others. The leaves have been traditionally used for strengthening the heart, reducing blood sugar, lowering blood pressure and stabilizing the nervous system. Gaharu Tea helps to improve sleep, is anti-aging, promotes beauty, eliminate flatulence and expels oils.
Drinking the tea regularly would improve the urinary system, help maintain youthfulness and maintain the body’s immune system. The tea is suitable for all men and women of all ages.
Well, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Opening hours of HOGA Deli and HOGA Mart: 9am-6pm everyday