a tea tour

In my last blog I told you I’ve committed to going to China again—this time to Fujian Province—on another tea tour.  For me this is a professional trip to experience some incredible oolongs, buy unique teas and attend the Xiamen Tea Fair.

Tea tours are such a wonderful way to see a major tea producing country whether it’s China, India, Taiwan, Japan or Sri Lanka.  In all of these countries, tea production is a huge part of their economy and tea permeates the lives of almost every citizen so seeing the country through the world of tea touches the personal, professional and artistic sides of what the culture has to offer.  Tea tours are typically small group tours of eight to 12 people which allows for flexibility and a little more relaxed pace.  It’s probably best to say the small group fits into the local life versus a big group that experiences the prescribed tourist agenda.

Most tea tours involve visiting different tea gardens which gets you off the main tourist route.  Often you get to pluck and experience making tea with locals.  When we went to Huoshan last fall, we drove to a country village and helped pan fire tea leaves for yellow tea—meeting most of the village’s beautiful residents (they all came out to see what we were about).

Sitting in traditional tea rooms, tasting tea like locals and with locals is a magical experience.  Our group had arrived very late into Kunming, Yunnan Province one night of the tour and we went to the Kunming Tea Market at 9PM.  Many of the tea houses were still open so we had opportunity to do some tasting before going to our hotel.  This is the land of pu’erh so we all scattered to get as much tasting experience as possible.  I was tickled when a few of us walked in to one tea house and were seated by a young girl—the daughter of the owners—who was managing the tasting room while the parents were upstairs putting the other children to bed.  She knew some English so we had a delightful time talking about their family life while we tasted some incredible pu’erhs.

The tea producing countries are proud of their tea and the locals are honored to have Americans come to learn and experience tea with them.    I can hardly wait to go on this next leg of my tea journey.