NEW: from May 6th, 2024

Spring tea tour: Yunnan

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

Harvest, production, and culture

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.

Our spring tour 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 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.

We chose the quieter period of the spring tea, when it is possible to taste all the new teas in maocha and assist to the production: we can se the mountain production and the refinement in the city's workshops, trying to experience each step by ourselves.

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.

May 6th - May 18th: Spring tea in Yunnan


Day #1 - taste of the old Dai kingdom


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 - Tea production

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.

For lunch we reach one of our Nannuo mountain base, in Shitou xinzhai, and after a proper rest we get ready for tea picking, withering, and tea making. According to the weather, we will make either pu’er, .red or white tea, assisting a local producer. 
The dinner will be in the mountain.


Day #3 - The tea forest, and the Dai artist

Nannuo and Jinghong

In the morning we plan a 5Km walk to explore the height of Nannuo and reach its Bama side, the most prestigious and isolated; note: for whoever feels uncomfortable with the hike, most of the walk can be supported by SUV.
We will explore different tea-gardens and forests, cultivars and species, and we will picnic on the mountain.
In the late 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.

Qiu Laoshi's gallery

Day #4 - Tea professionals: publishers

On the way to Kunming

In the morning we move 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 afternoon: we will be welcomed by Master 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 #5 - Tea studies in the heart of Yunnan


We meet Li Haibo, master and high-level teacher, for an in-depth workshop on gongfucha serving: we will review the Chinese tea ceremony, technique and movements, brewing teas  from his impressive collections.
After a lunch with his private chef, we dive into Zisha clay from Yixing, studying its history and the most important shapes.


Day #6 - The ancient tea horse road


We dedicate the day to practice and literally craftsmanship: we are called to use our hands, first in brewing and studying practicalities of a Yixing teapot, and then, in the afternoon, making our own tea-pet in original Yixing clay under the guide of Li Hai Bo.
The lunch is with private chef, the dinner is a selection of Kunming food.

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

Kunming - Xishuangbanna

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.
We will taste the original 2005 teas from the caravan.
In the afternoon we head back to Xishuangbanna.



In the morning we climb the twin mountain of Nannuo, Pasha: we will visit Eastern Leaves ancient trees in Lunan, enjoy the lush vegetation and a meal in the forest. 
In the afternoon we reach the outskirts of Xishuangbanna, 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. 

Zhang Laoshi's gallery

Day #9 - Flowery fragrance and pu'er


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 #10 - The harmonious leaves


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.


Day #11 - The heart of tea trade and production


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.


Day #12 - Laobanzhang and Hani culture


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 #13 - A journey of fragrances


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 will make some Guanguan tea on the fire to warm up our soul before going on the way back 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 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

China Tea Tour - Summer

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

China Tea Tour - September

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

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.

Find us

Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China