FROM SEPTEMBER 2ND, 2024

China Tea Tour

Shanghai - Yixing - Wuyishan - Tongmuguan - Jianyang - Fuzhou - Kunming - Xishuangbanna - Nannuo - Laobanzhang - Yiwu

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

After meeting in Shanghai, our journey begins on the east coast of China in Yixing city, a centuries-old pottery district, where National artists Yuan Weixin and Lian Meiping lead us through their work, clay, and ancient kilns. We then travel by train to Wuyishan, where the striking scenery all around us tells the stories of the prestigious rock teas, of the red teas found in the stunning Tongmuguan natural park, and the Jianzhan pottery found in the ancient Jianyang district, the most sought-after ceramic used for the emperors of Song dynasty. We then head further south to Fuzhou to catch the mesmerising fragrance of fresh jasmine flowers, before crossing southern China to reach our forests in Yunnan.

The second half of the tour starts in Yunnan's capital city of Kunming, where we study the theory and ritual of gongfucha tea in an exquisite studio. From there, we go south to the areas that are most significant for pu'er tea production: Laobanzhang, Hekai, our tea forest in Nannuo and the most esteemed villages in Yiwu.

In this travel you find everything that makes up Eastern Leaves: our Yunnan, a comprehensive look at Chinese culture, the peaks and rivers of Wuyishan park, our favorite artists from Yixing and of Dai minorities, and all the people that give meaning to our adventure in tea.

China tea tour
Monday Sep. 2nd - Friday Sep. 20th, 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

Itinerary

Day #1: the Eastern Pearl

Shanghai, September 2nd

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, September 3rd

We leave in the morning from Shanghai heading south, towards Yixing and its precious clays. We visit local studios in the afternoon and make our first encounters with the artists and masters whose pieces are already owned by many of you.

The ancient ceramic production district 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, September 4th

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: Make your own yixing teaware

Yixing, September 5th

We start the day with a visit to the Yixing Museum, which features precious artifacts that chronicle the neighborhood's history across the ages and the Chinese dynasties that gave rise to clay culture.
Our guide is Lian Meiping, whose work was once hosted in the same museum.

In the afternoon it is time to put our ceramist skills to test: Yuan Weixin will guide us through the making of our own tea cup, following the traditional Yixing craft. We use his precious Benshan Lvni, the rare green clay, and the cup will be fired while our travel continues.

Day #5: the rhythm of the mountain

Wuyishan, September 6th

In the morning we will leave Yixing and take a train to northern Fujian, towards the long-awaited mountainous region of Wuyishan. In the late afternoon we will have a first broad taste of the surrounding landscape that frames our sunset, in a first overview of flavours, cultivars and colours.

Our guide in the "rock rhyme" is Pengbao, a farmer who owns a land in the core Zhengyan area right under the historically celebrated Yingzui 鹰嘴 peak, named after its resemblance to an eagle's beak.

Gallery

Day #6: the core and the original trees

Wuyishan, September 7th

Early in the morning we begin our journey among the rocks: thanks to Pengbao we have privileged access to the heart of Wuyi park. We cover all the most important areas, observing the cultivars, rock formations and having tea and lunch at two temples and a pagoda.

It is a day with a great variety of trees and different micro-environments: we will feel on our skin the variations in temperature and humidity, and we will have a complete horizontal tasting of the area's productions.

Day #7: the birthplace of hongcha

Tongmuguan, September 8th

We head towards the gorgeous peaks of the northwest, following the Jiuqu River upstream through canyons and waterfalls, to the ancient village of Tongumuguan where the origin of red tea is preserved.

In this breathtaking landscape surrounded by unspoiled nature, green bamboo and bees working on their flowers, we taste different cultivars of Zhengshan Xiaozhong, including a couple of samples smoked by master Wu Chongfa.

We visit the original production facility on the Jiuqu River and before leaving the mountain we taste an exceptional meal cooked with local raw materials and herbs.

Gallery

Day #8: back to Song dynasty: Jianzhan teaware

Jianyang, September 9th

In the morning we move in a south-east direction, towards the ancient Fujianese city of Jianyang, where Jianzhan pottery technique, today also popular in Japan with the name "Tenmoku", was crafted over 1,500 years ago, reaching its maximum popularity during the Song dynasty.

We visit a master's workshop, witness and understand the process of his craft. We will compare the original Song Dynasty cups with today's ones using an electronic enlarger, visit a dragon kiln, and try to glaze our own cups.
The meal is served in an old Fujianese courtyard.

Gallery

Day #9: flowers and tea on the river delta

Fuzhou, September 10th

In the morning we head to Fuzhou, on the estuary of the Min River, where we visit the most important district for the production of flower tea: we see how loose tea leaves are repeatedly perfumed with fresh flowers, in a fascinating atmosphere.

Depending on the weather, we may have the option to join the production directly. We will then have an extensive tea tasting featuring traditional and experimental teas from the area.

Gallery

Day #10: over the clouds, to the capital of Yunnan

Kunming, September 11th

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, moving 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 teawhere 25 cultural groups still live and thrive.

Gallery

Day #11: Tea studies in the heart of Yunnan

Kunming, September 12th

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 Chinese teas properly, preparing some leaves from his impressive collections. 

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

Day #12: the tea horse road

Kunming - Xishuangbanna, September 13th

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 the ancient Dai kingdom of Xishuangbanna, where most of the premium pu'er tea is produced and enjoyed.
We have been producing our teas here since 2014 and we will be honored to host you in the land we love so much.

Day #13: the enchanted mountain

Nannuo, September 14th

We wake up surrounded by pu'er tea mountains, and we begin our itinerary 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, which houses the ceramic workshop of an innovative Dai culture pottery master that we admire: Qiu Laoshi.

Galleries: Nannuo mtn., Qiu Laoshi

Day #14: Laobanzhang and Hani culture

Laobanzhang, September 15th

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 relationship to three different families and taste their 2024 tea production.
We also visit the neighbouring micro-valley of Hekai.

Galleries: Laobanzhang, Shuosan

Day #15 - The emperor's favorite

Yiwu, Mengla, September 16th

We head southeast toward the border with Laos, with the Yiwu peaks as our destination. They are home to a diverse range of tastes, landscapes, and producers.

We tour the most historically significant homes and lanes, the square where pu'er tea was loaded and traded for generations, and the local museum, which is located at the first stop of the Ancient Tea Horse Road.

Day #16 - flowery fragrance and pu'er tea

Yiwu, Mengla, September 17th

After having familiarized ourselves in the previous days with the heart of such an important area, we go up to Guafengzhai and Bohetang, two of the most refined and expensive villages for pu'er tea.

We taste their tea together with the farmers who produce it, understand the history, the trees and the old and new flavors.

Gallery

Day #17: the harmonious leaves

Yiwu, Mengla, September 18th

We wake up surrounded by the peaks and scents of Yiwu, and start our day with a horizontal tasting of different microvalleys. Then 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.

Day #18 - the heart of tea trade and production

Menghai, September 19th

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 workshop and explore the local economy while dedicating our day to sampling the greatest teas.

In the afternoon we go to the outskirts of Jinghong, north of the Mekong River, to visit the traditional pottery workshop of Ms. Zhang Laoshi. She fully represents her Dai ethnic ceramic tradition by working with three different kilns: gas, wood and dragon kiln, and teaching to classes of students every year.

Galleries: Menghai, Zhang Laoshi

Day #19: a journey of fragrances

Xishuangbanna, September 20th

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 prepare 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 places, tastes and people that are most meaningful for us.

Our travel package includes accommodation in selected, cosy hotels, all the internal transportation, and meals. It doesn't include the 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, we walk 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 of our passion for tea.

Itinerary and booking

summer tea tour

July 20th - August 7th, 2024

This tour crosses the historical tea line of the east coast, before immersing in our Yunnan: it starts from Yixing, before proceeding to Huangshan and Qimen valley, where we visit extensively the most important production areas, and from where we travel to Anxi, home of the world-famous Tieguanyin tea, and Jingdezhen porcelain district.
From there we fly to our Yunnan, where we'll immerse in pu'er lands of Xishuangbanna, 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

In 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 old travelers to repeat the tour with us: we are thus renewing our wintertime Yunnanese route, including new areas, farmers and experiences; we are on a journey, and we will propose a completely new itinerary that will fulfil our wishes as pu'er and Yunnan lovers.

Pre-booking

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

Customised trips

Tailor your trip, visit us Xishuangbanna for the time of a tea or for extended journeys: let us know about your plan and what you like the most, we are pleased to customise your time here according to your preferences.

Travel's FAQ

To join our tours it is requires a tourist visa: for travels up to 15 days, for most countries is not required; for tours longer than 14 days, it is a straightforward process that requires between 3 and 10 business days, according to the country and the processing way.

We offer all possible assistance based on the experiences of the travellers we have welcomed over the years from all over the world.

For the most recent news on China visa policy, we recommend visiting the website of the China Visa Application Center.

Sure! Food is an important part of our experience (and of our lives), so we plan it carefully.

Chinese cuisine is extremely diverse: it includes countless varieties of tofu and a variety of vegetable cooking techniques; we will encounter tuberoses and radishes, wild herbs and flowers: a plant-based diet, in addition to a onnivore diet, is entirely possible.

We also have experience with various dietary restrictions, such as gluten-free, lactose intolerant, and religious restrictions; when you contact us, please let us know your needs and preferences, and we will gladly plan your meal accordingly.

As you are probably aware, we are huge fans of photography, particularly when done slowly and with passion: if you, too, enjoy cameras and pictures, it would be wonderful to share our enthusiasm along the way.

Photos and videos are permitted as long as they do not disrupt the flow of travel for our farmers and experts, ensuring a pleasant experience for all of our guests.

If you want a tour specifically designed for documentary purposes, complete with filming mics and equipment, please contact us in advance to plan a customised trip.

When you decide to book we advise to keep in touch with us, we will assist you as much as possible with flights from your country of origin, visas, and any preparation you may need. 

Visas for China have recently become easier to obtain for the majority of nationalities; for the most up-to-date visa rules, we recommend checking the official Chinese website and your local Chinese Embassy or Consulate.

Yes, if you wish, we can provide you with a digital or printed certificate for your travel experience into tea.

For travellers, China is one of the safest countries in the world, with extremely low crime rates, including pickpocketing.

Our commitment along the route is to keep you as safe as possible, both physically and mentally.

For our longer tours, we usually offer the option to join only a portion of the tour, for at least 12 days, based on availability.

If this is your wish, please contact us so that we can plan your trip together.

Find us

Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China

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