July 20th . Aug. 7th, 2024

China Tea Tour

Shanghai - Yixing - Huangshan - Qimen - Jingdezhen - Anxi - Quanzhou - Kunming - Xishuangbanna - Yiwu - Nannuo - Laobanzhang - Hekai

This tour was designed with a strong emotional component: we touch some of the places we are most attached to and with which we have had our longest relationship.

After meeting in Shanghai, the tour begins with the wonders of Yixing, guided by national-level artists Yuan Weixin and Lian Meiping, through their work, clay and ancient kilns. We then move to the ancient city of Tunxi, Huangshan, close to the origin of green tea and Qimen teas. The nearby valley has been the international point of reference for lovers of porcelain and tea accessories for over a thousand years: Jingdezhen, where every pottery student comes to study and where the art of ceramic pervades every moment of life and fills the eyes with meaning and beauty.

We continue our journey south towards Anxi, the motherland of Tieguanyin: we visit many ancient temples dedicated to ancient varieties and cultivars of tea, we taste traditional and experimental teas, pampered by the excellent food of the Quanzhou area.

The second part of the tour is entirely dedicated to our Yunnan: we land in Kunming, the capital, to study gongfucha tea ceremony and theory in a splendid studio, and we head south towards the most important mountains for pu'er tea. production: Laobanzhang, Hekai, our tea forest in Nannuo and the most prestigious villages in Yiwu.

On each trip we select the places, people and leaves that we love most, for an unforgettable experience immersed in your passion.

Our desire is to make you a firsthand witness to contemporary tea culture in China: we will be your guide and cultural bridge, and we will be eager to see our world with your eyes.

China tea tour
Saturday July 20th - Wednesday Aug. 7th, 2024

Note: you can also choose a 12-day itinerary option instead of the full 19-day trip. Contact us to plan your journey!

Info and booking

Detailed itinerary

Day #1: The Eastern pearl

Shanghai

We welcome you to Shanghai from your country of departure: we arrange for a private pick-up for every traveller, greeting you in a gracious setting that will enable you to get the rest you need while sipping your first cup of tea in China.

It will be our first encounter with tea: it is time to just sip, and get ready for the next morning trip to Yixing.

Day #2: The ancient capital of pottery

Yixing

We leave in the morning from Shanghai heading south, towards Yixing and its precious clays. In the afternoon we have the first visits to local studios, meeting the artists and masters whose pieces are already owned by many of you. 

The ancient ceramic production districts is the vibrant heart of Yixing: artists, students, artisans and museums, with one of the liveliest food cultures on the East coast.

Gallery

Day #3: COLLECTIONS, RARITIES, AND KILNS

Yixing

We divide our time between the work of Yixing master Yuan Weixin and the historical landmarks of the area. Together with the masters Yuan Wexin and Lian Meiping, we discover - and touch - the different clays extracted in the famous mine No.4, right in front of their studio. We explore different shapes of teapots, and we follow them in their craft, to learn how a Yixing teapot is created.

During the day we visit several kilns, including a still active dragon kiln, observing all phases of the production process.

Day #4: to the white porcelain city

Yixing - Jingdezhen

In the morning we visit the Yixing museum, which tells the history of the neighborhood through the centuries, with priceless pieces and the origin of clay through the Chinese dynasties.
Our guide is Lian Meiping, whose work was once hosted in the same museum.

In the afternoon we move to the ancient world capital of porcelain: Jingdezhen, located between a mountain of 高岭土 Kaolin and forests to fuel its kilns, and waterways to reach the court of the Emperor to whom tribute had been paid since the Tang dynasty.

Day #5: Clay and fire through the centuries

Jingdezhen

We literally walk on ancient ceramics: this neighborhood has been producing ceramics for the imperial court since the Tang Dynasty, and to this day anyone who wants to become a ceramic artist passes through here.

We will then visit the imperial kilns and the ceramic museum, and then we lose ourselves through a selection of artists' and artisans' studios.

Gallery

Day #6: Sunset by the yellow mountains

Jingdezhen - Huangshan

Jingdezhen is a city that brings together the talent and hope of many young artists from all over China: we continue the visit of the ateliers of our favorite artists, and we freely wonder through their creations.

We arrive in Huangshan City in the late afternoon, on time to enjoy the sunset over Xin'an River.
We live in the historical district of Tunxi, which has much of the well-preserved Ming and Qing dynasty buildings, and we will walk through traditional snacks and antiques shop.paid since the Tang dynasty.

Day #7: The highest peaks

Huangshan

Huangshan refers to the breathtaking yellow mountains that surround these valleys and plains; we explore this land with our travels and tastings, through the terroir of Qimen, Maofeng and Taipinghoukui teas.

We are guided by Xiao Yanzi through the cultivars, trees, and a wide tasting of Qimen teas; in the afternoon we visit the Songluo tea culture Museum, which was the first pan-fry green tea in Anhu, and it includes Songluo tea culture Museum which was first pan-fry green in Anhu.
On our journey we will find antiques and furniture, in a region with one of the most preserved historical heritages in China.

Gallery

Day #8: the sinuous leaves

Huangshan - Anxi

We dedicate our last morning in Huangshan to taste Taipinghoukui teas, and to review the best teas tasted journeying these lands.

In the afternoon we move to South Fujian: we reach the internal hills of Anxi, the motherland of the many expressions of Tieguanyin tea.

Day #9: the mother-land of the Iron Goddess

Anxi

There is no place in Fujian to go if you don't first visit a temple: this is how we start our day here, and after a rich typical lunch and a first broad tasting of different teas, we begin our way into the internal valleys.

We pass by and honour other temples, some dedicated to centuries-old trees that have made the history of this neighbourhood. We visit the most important factory in the area, and immerse ourselves in all the most traditional cultivars and also some of the newer ones.

Day #10: a thousand fragrances

Anxi

As we travel around the valley, we discover many different types of producers, with different histories and traditions. We delve into new and innovative cultivars, studying this terroir between its ancient roots and the modernity of Chinese tea.

It is a day of horizontal tasting, and we won't lack local snacks and tasty Fujianese food to warm our bodies as we abandon ourselves to these aromas and landscapes.

Gallery

Day #11: On the way to the southern sea

Quanzhou

Before leaving Anxi, we have one last chance to prepare our favorite fragrances and pray for a final blessing at the local temple, before stocking up on local snacks for our train ride and head to the southern port of Quanzhou.

Quanzhou is an ancient city, in which the sea has brought different cultures and religions for over 2000 years: this cosmopolitanism is still well represented, and we will spend the evening tasting local delicacies, visiting the main temple, and - if we are lucky - witnessing a Chinese street opera stage show.

Day #12: over the clouds, to the Yunnan capital

Kunming

We fly to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan, located at 2,100 meters above sea level between the tropical south and the Himalayan north.

We cross southern China from east to west; we move from the South China Sea to the heights of Yunnan, from the hot humid climate of Fujian to the freshness of Spring City, the capital of pu'er tea, where 25 cultural groups still live and thrive.

Day #13: Tea studies in the heart of Yunnan

Kunming

We meet Li Haibo, master and top teacher, for an in-depth seminar on the gongfucha practise and ceremony: we study technique and movements to brew properly Chinese teas, preparing some leaves from his impressive collections.

After a lunch with his private chef, he will prepare several teas using different Yixing pieces from his collection, studying their history and most important shapes.

Gallery

Day #14: The tea horse road

Kunming - Xishuangbanna

We cross Cuihu Lake towards the old city, where we meet one of the most important figures in the contemporary history of pu'er tea: Mr. Hu, who in 2005 walked with a caravan of 120 horses loaded with pu'er tea from the city of Pu'er in southwest Yunnan to Beijing - about 3000 km to the northeast.

We taste the original 2005 teas from the caravan. In the afternoon we head south towards Xishuangbanna.

Day #15 - The emperor's favorite

Yiwu, Mengla

We travel in south-eastern direction, towards the border with Laos: the destination of our journey is the peaks of Yiwu, home to a wide variety of tastes, landscapes and producers.

Our first stop is the city of Yiwu, the starting point of the Ancient Tea Horse Road: we will visit the most historic houses and alleys, the square where pu'er tea was traded and loaded for centuries, and the local museum.

Day #16 - The harmonious leaves

Yiwu, Mengla

We wake up surrounded by the peaks and scents of Yiwu, and start our day with a horizontal tasting of different micro-valleys. After that, we visit two different tea villages and forests in Luoshuidong and Mahei, exploring the cultivars, soils and meeting the farmers.

In mid-afternoon we begin our journey back to Xishuangbanna, driving slowly through the tropical hills of Mengla.

Gallery

Day #17 - The enchanted mountain

Nannuo

We begin our day heading towards Mount Nannuo: we pay homage to the oldest 800-year-old tree, and we immerse ourselves in the Eastern Leaves forest. If the weather is favourable, we hike into the highest forest and have a picnic surrounded by its magnificence.

In the late afternoon we visit a lush tropical garden surrounded by forest, which houses the ceramic workshop of an innovative Dai minority pottery master we admire: Qiu Laoshi.

Galleries: Nannuo mtn., Qiu Laoshi

Day #18: the king of pu'er

Laobanzhang

In the morning we head to Mengkun, to visit the mountain retreat of a local artist who is the living representative of his ethnic minority, the Hani-Akha: his name is Shuosan, and he has built a very personal museum in his native village, with ancient fabrics and cultural relics.

After lunch we climb the most famous mountain in the area, a symbol of the skyrocketing prices of pu'er tea: Laobanzhang, with its historic trees, evidence of ancient domestication, and the maximum security village that protects its treasure. We have a direct connection to three different families and taste the 2024 tea production.
We also visit the neighbouring micro-valley of Hekai.

Galleries: Laobanzhang, Shuosan

Day #19: a journey of fragrances

Xishuangbanna

It is time to wrap-up all the tastes, teas, people, places and experiences we have encountered through our travel: we meet in the morning in our tea studio to brew together the very best mountains and vintages. We make some Guanguan tea on the fire to warm up our soul before saying our goodbye.

Our travel is designed by us, and it is independent from any travel agency: we bring you with us on Eastern Leaves routes, guided by a farmer and tea scholar, through the most meaningful places, tastes and people.

Our travel package includes accommodation in selected, cosy hotels, all the internal transportation, and meals. It doesn't include the A/R flight from/to your country of origin, visas (but we support your application), and insurance.

Once you decide to travel with us, we assist you in everything we can, following our experience with travellers from all over the world.

We apply special rates for our Eastern Academy alumni: contact us to choose a date and customise together your travel at the origin of tea!

Contact us

Further travel options

Spring Tea Tour

May 6th-18th, 2024

The 2024 tea leaves are still tender buds moistened by the tail of the rainy season; the Yunnan mountains awaits for the spring, with fragrances and aromas to be discovered.

We brew together the best teas, we speak with the producers and assist them in their work while walking their lands. We will be hosted by skilled pottery masters and professionals, we will attend to scholars' workshop on Gongfucha and Yixing, and we will live immersed in our passion for tea.

Itinerary and booking

China tea tour - September 2024

September 2nd-20th, 2024

This tour crosses the historycal tea line of the east coast, before immersing in our Yunnan: it starts from Yixing, it blooms in the Wuyishan valley, where we visit extensively the most important production areas, and from where we start to Tongmuguan, the birth-place of red tea, and Jianyang, the ancient site of production for the Jianzhang teaware, Tenmoku in Japanese.
We continue our travel to Fuzhou and its flower teas, before crossing the South China and arrive in our Yunnan to travel both the Menghai valley and the Yiwu one, following the traces of pu'er tea from the ancient days until the contemporaneity.

Itinerary and booking

Winter tour

Dec 23rd, 2024 - Jan 4th, 2025

Yunnan winter is so gentle, like a fresh breeze, and it is probably the best season to enjoy the pu'er tea valleys.

We were really happy to receive many requests from our previous travellers to repeat the tour with us: we are thus updating our wintertime Yunnanese route, including new areas, farmers and experiences. It's an ongoing refreshing process, and we will propose a completely new itinerary that will fulfil our wishes as pu'er and Yunnan lovers.

Pre-booking

From our travellers

I still can't believe I was in all these amazing places

"I am drinking a rock tea from Wuyishan at home, a month after our trip. Brewed in a beautiful Yixing pot that I bought in actual Yixing, and tea from the mountain that I hiked on. I still can't believe I was in all these amazing places... I am reminiscing about this holiday a lot. It was just perfect. People were incredibly nice. We had wonderful encounters with lots of lovely different tea people and the people in our group where the best. Tea people are so nice. We saw incredible things, drank the best teas and had so much fun together. Everything that was abstract for me beforehand, became concrete while traveling. It's hard to capture my feelings in words, but but I am back home for a month now and there was not a single day that I didn't think about the trip. I wasn't homesick while traveling, but I am tripsick now.

And all of this took place under the caring and enthusiastic guidance of Vivian and Lorenzo, truly two of the most kind, warm-hearted and knowledgeable people that I know."

W.E., from The Netherlands

We have become more sensitive and have touched beauty

"I want to consider a different approach. I don't want to make a review of what went well and what didn't go well. I don't want to dwell on individual stages and describe a fantastic world. I reject any image of travel, tea, an extraordinary country and all that. I want to forget any kind of knowledge I have. Tea lovers already know all about these things. I want to tell them that they don't need "yesterday" because it is the necessary condition to savor any moment with its different temperatures, colors and fragrances. Isn't this what happens when you drink forgotten tea? Isn't it like drinking a new tea, after all? When we abandoned the concept of tea bags, what did we do? We entered an ancient forest for the first time. We put our hands in the clay. We tasted food with a sparkling and surprising flavour. We have become more sensitive and have touched beauty. And this is where the world of Eastern Leaves becomes real"

D.N., from Italy

Customised trips

Personalizza il tuo viaggio, vieni a trovarci a Xishuangbanna per l'ora di un tè o per viaggi lunghi: facci sapere il tuo programma e cosa ti piace di più, saremo lieti di personalizzare il tuo viaggio del mondo del tè in base alle tue preferenze.

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Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China

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