NEW: from December 27th, 2023

Winter Tour: Yunnan

Kunming-Xishuangbanna-Nannuo-Pasha-Menghai-Laobanzhang-Yiwu

We selected the places, the people and the leaves we love the most, for an unforgettable experience immersed in your passion.

We start from our studio in Xishuangbanna, in south-west Yunnan, and we explore all the most important mountains and tea-forests of Yunnan. We will brew together the best teas, we speak with the producers, we walk their lands; we will be hosted by skilled pottery masters and professionals, and we will live of our passion for tea.

In this travel you will find everything that makes up Eastern Leaves: our Yunnan, an in-depth of Chinese culture, and all the people that makes our tea-journey meaningful.

Tours

Dec 27th - Jan. 7th: First tour, Yunnan (fully booked)

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2024 Tours - save the date:

- late spring
- August-September 2024
contact us to pre-register

Info and registration

Itinerary

Day #1 - taste of the old Dai kingdom

Xishuangbanna

We welcome our guests to our place, in Xishuangbanna valley, for a comfortable rest with tea, seasonal fruit and food to recover from the fatigue of your travel. We regroup in a villa next to our studio, that will be your base for the whole duration of our trip in the lands we love so much.

Day 2 - the enchanted mountain

Nannuo forest

We wake up surrounded by the pu’er tea mountains, and we begin our itinerary by heading towards Mount Nannuo: we pay homage to the oldest 800 years old tree, and immerse ourselves in the forest of Eastern Leaves. If the weather is favorable we will climb until the Eastern Leaves forest, brewing tea among its trees.

Day #3 - The heart of tea trade and production

Menghai

Menghai is the center of the most renowned - and busiest - area for the production of pu'er tea: it is surrounded by the Bulang area with Laobanzhang and Laoman'e, Pasha, Nannuo, Naka and many others, and brings together all the best professionals and factories. We visit a pu'er tea refining plant and explore the local economy by dedicating our day to the best tasting of different teas: shupu with a master of his craft and rare shengpu from selected areas.

Day #4 - Dai pottery and tea valley

Xishuangbanna and Pasha mtn.

We start our day on the outskirts of the city north of the Mekong River to visit Mrs. Zhang Laoshi's traditional Dai pottery workshop, which represents her ethnic tradition of pottery working with three different kilns: gas, wood and dragon.
Next we head to Mt. Pasha, one of the famous old six, to stroll among its ancient trees, learning about its cultivar, and of course, to savor its fragrances and aromas.

Day #5 - The way to the old Capital

On the way to Kunming

In the morning we taste new teas and we review the tastes acquired in the previous days, before getting on our way to Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan, placed at 2.100 meters of altitude between the tropical south and the Himalayan north.
It is located three and a half hours by train from Xishuangbanna; we arrive in early evening, on time to climatized ourself with its clear air and lakes.

Day #6 - The ancient tea horse road

Kunming

We cross the Cuihu lake toward the old city, where we meet one of the most important figures for the contemporary pu'er tea history: Mr. Hu, that in 2005 walked with a caravan of 120 horses laden with pu'er tea from the town of Pu'er in southwest Yunnan to Beijing - about 3000km to the northeast.
In the pu'er tea industry there is a before and after his project; we will be able to talk about it with him, tasting the original 2005 teas from the caravan.
In the afternoon we spend our time with Zhou Chonglin, one of the greatest pu'er tea expert and tea-book publisher.
We meet him immersed in his tea-books, and we will listen to his thoughts on the current evolution of the industry.

Day #7 - The modern era of pu'er tea

Kunming

We further immerse ourselves in the contemporary pu'er tea culture with two figures that are undiscussed protagonists of its recent history: in the morning we meet with Hai Bo, that in his beautiful studio will talk about Lincang area and teas.
It has a long history that continued during the New China time, deeply influencing the contemporary reality of pu'er tea
In the afternoon we focus on pu'er tea brewing, using different vessels and materials.

Day #8 - THE POTTERY COURTYARD

Xishuangbanna

In the morning we travel back from Kunming to our southern base, in Xishaungbanna.
After a lunch and some tea, in the afternoon we visit a lush tropical garden surrounded by forest, which houses the ceramic workshop of an innovative master we love: Qiu Laoshi and his creations.
His work is deeply rooted in his territory: he uses only local sands and plant-based ashes for his glazes, and each of his production-season has a different hue.

Day #9 - Flowery fragrance and pu'er

Yiwu

We travel in south-east direction, toward the Laos border: the destination of our travel are the peaks of Yiwu, home to a wide variety of tastes, landscape, and producers.
Our first stop will be the town of Yiwu, at the first stop of the tea-horse road: we visit the most historical houses and lanes, the square where the pu'er tea was exchanged and loaded for centuries, and the local museum.

Day #10 - The gentle leaves

Yiwu

We wake up surrounded by the Yiwu peaks and fragrances, and we start our day with an horizontal tasting of different micro-valleys; then we visit two different tea-forests, exploring the cultivars, terrains, and meeting the farmers.
In mid-afternoon we start our journey back to Xishuangbanna, driving slowly through the tropical hills of Mengla.

Day #11 - the king of the pu'er mountain

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: Loabanzhang, 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 will test the 2023 production.

Day #12: Journey

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 vintage before being back on the way home - or to continue your travel somewhere else.

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

From our travelers

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

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.

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

Our plantations and Yunnan trips

We are available all year long for extensive, customised trips in southwest Yunnan, where we live. Our travels starts from the tea forest we own and cover all the most important tea mountains of Xishuangbanna, Simao/Pu'er and Lincang. We combine tea tasting, farming, tea market, Yunnan pottery and culture.

On site courses

We propose all the ranges of our courses on-site, both in our Xishaungbanna tea-room and workshop and in our tea-forest. 
Being physically surrounded by the small of soil and trees, being able to taste the fresh leaves, to touch them, and to live with the people involved in their production will make your study more intense and unforgettable.

Long-term stay

We welcome long-term visitors either for study, professional enhancements, or co-operations. Xishuangbanna is an ideal base to live and breath tea culture at every hour of the day; every road brings you to a tea mountain, and every conversation will leave you with new ideas and inspirations.

Find us

Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China

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