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Expect to learn about China with the help of real tea masters, like Seven Cups founders Austin or Zhuping as your personal guides. This means spending most of your time in the Chinese countryside visiting tea gardens, with excursions to cultural attractions in towns and cities. Over the years Seven Cups has developed deep friendships within China allowing them access that not-so-ordinary area of typical Chinese tours.
The accommodation generally takes place in 4-star hotels with breakfast included.
Arrive in Shanghais Pudong international airport then take a few hour drive to Changxing.
You will drive into the beautiful bamboo forest that surrounds Changxing. The first stop is the Great Tang Dynasty Tribute Tea Museum, a stunning monument to tea built as a replica of the Tang Dynastys imperial tea factory (8th Century). Here you witness a special green tea ceremony performed in the Museum, and take time to learn about the great tea master, Lu Yu, the author of the first tea book in history.
You will then drive to Purple Bamboo Shoot tea garden and have lunch at the tea masters family home. Lunch will be prepared from the fresh vegetables growing around the tea garden. The tea master will take you on a hike into the forest and up into her tea gardens. Youll see how Purple Bamboo Shoot green tea is harvested and made in her small factory.
After lunch youll drive to Yi Xing, a city bordering Tai Lake and famous for its pottery. Yixing teapots are also known as Zi Sha Hu, or purple sand tea pots. The unique unglazed clay with its high concentration of iron has been considered the ideal material for brewing tea for centuries.
Youll meet master potters and artists who will show you how to appreciate and use this type of teapot, and they will make a pot in front of you. You will also visit the museum of Yixing Pottery where there is a collection of pottery spanning different styles and eras of pottery. Yixing was famous during the Tang Dynasty for its Tribute Tea, called Yang Mu Cha. Youll try the local black tea while being there.
Day 3 is all about An Ji, an area famous for its green teas, such as An Ji Bai Cha. An Ji Bai Cha is one of the Song Dynasty Emperors favorite teas, but was lost for centuries until the early 1980s. This tea is famous for being extremely rich in amino acids, which lend the tea its signature sweetness and smooth flavors.
In the morning youll hike up to see the hundred-year-old mother bush of An Ji Bai Cha, which is the only one still alive. This valuable mother bush has made it possible for us, humans, to drink this wonderful tea today - all An Ji Bai Cha that is grown today has descended from it.
Youll have tea on the mountain with the family that guards this mother bush and take in a beautiful view of the valley. After tea and snacks you will head to the An Ji Bai Cha organic tea farm, walk through the field, and visit the factory to see how this tea is made.
Learn about Mo Gan Huang Ya, a rare yellow tea grown in Zhejiang. Only a few older countryside tea masters know how to make this tea! You will meet Wang Qi Zhen, Seven Cups Mo Gan Huang Ya master, who has gained notoriety not only by being the best in the countryside, but also because shes a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
You will take a walk through her organic tea garden at the top of Mo Gan Mountain, where youll have vistas of the whole county and a hands-on picking experience with the local tea bushes. Then you will travel to the factory and see the special process for making this tea. Of course, here you will have some of the Ms. Wangs tea as well!
You will depart early in the morning for a van ride to Anhui Province. Yellow Mountain City is an artists town with a bustling shopping street rebuilt from the Song Dynasty. The street is lined with family museums (old family homes) where you can see how Chinese used to live from the Song to the Qing Dynasties. It also has old shops where you can find local art, sweets, handicrafts, jewelry, tea, and other goods.
Here, you are also going to drink the famous green tea of Yellow Mountain, Huangshan Mao Feng, at the museum of the family who invented the first flowering display tea balls in 1986 and have since created over six hundred different kinds. Youll have dinner in a famous restaurant that is known for its representation of Anhui cuisine.
In the course of the tour you will see many small-size producers with traditional crafting techniques. Today you will also have the chance to get a glimpse into large-scale tea production in China. First you will take part in a masters class in most lauded black tea of China, Qimen (also known as Keemun.) It is well known for its unique aroma and sweetness, all stemming from the quality of the local small-leaf tea bush cultivars.
A prestigious Qimen tea maker will teach you how this black tea is made and how you can distinguish different grades of finished tea. You can also take this chance to hike around their organic tea garden. Then you will stop at a large-scale organic green tea producing garden near the area where the earliest loose-leaf green tea was made. You will be here able to survey its factory and growing operations.
Today you will leave the green teas of An Hui province for Fujian province - the birthplace of Wulong, black and white teas. Once there youll meet famous tea masters who are continuing the tradition of making Rock Wulong teas and the famous Lapsang Souchong black tea. Youll drink many different Wu Yi rock Wulongs (also known as Yancha) and Lapsang Souchongs to learn about the characteristics of these Wu Yi teas.
This day will be dedicated to visiting Nanping, a city with a long history of tea production and trade. You will visit an organic tea garden to learn about different varieties of the white tea bush, and see what makes white tea different from other types of tea. Youll taste a variety of white teas and some brand-new greens, Wulongs, and black teas that these producers have invented.
Today you will hike into the heart of Wu Yi Shan preserve and the top of Wu Yi mountain to visit its famous tea gardens. Here, youll study many different tea bushes, so you can understand how many different bushes can be made into Rock Wulongs.
You will spend time meeting the local farmers and tea masters in their gardens and workshops, learning about the numerous cultivars of Wuyi Shan and tasting their distinct characteristics. You will also learn about the different bushes, soils, roasting techniques, and grades that all yield different flavors of Wulong. Come thirsty. Youll taste a lot of tea today!
Youll have lunch in the areas picturesque bamboo forest and after lunch youll head to the Dragon Kiln Ruins, where the original Mo Cha (Matcha) tea bowls were produced. Mo Cha is a powdered green tea popular during the Song Dynasty, when it was drunk in a bowl.
Today you are going to visit Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) park and the ancient temple that is believed to be the first place that wulong tea was made by monks. Therefore, you will hike in the scenic tea growing valleys where tea grows between rocks. Within the park one can find the mother bushes of Big Red Robe, the regions most famous tea. Throughout the day you will continue to visit different Wulong tea masters and learn to appreciate their distinct tea making styles.
Today youll depart for Hangzhou city, one of Chinas most important cultural sites. Hangzhou is a beautiful city thats popular with Chinese and foreign tourists alike. Hangzhou is known as the tea capital of China. When you will arrive in the afternoon, you will visit the citys traditional markets for a chance to buy some local souvenirs.
Today youll take a walk around Hangzhous West Lake and visit the Hangzhou Tea Museum before strolling through the Emperors Tea Garden near by.
You will then visit, together with the oldest and most decorated tea master of Shi Feng Dragon Well, West Lakes most famous green tea, originally designated for tribute to the Qing emperor. With him we will learn about the traditional skills involved in hand-crafting this prestigious tea and walk through his tea garden in Shi Feng village.
You will then travel back to Shanghai. At the end of the day, Zhuping will help you get back to the hotel in Pudong, close to the airport. Youll have a good nights sleep and be ready for your flight home the next day.
You can schedule your departure for this day or spend more time in Shanghai if you choose.
This tour will take place in China.
All meals and of course plenty of freshly brewed Chinese tea are included in the price of the tour.
The cost of the tour does not cover extra snacks or drinks.
This tour will be a very active one, so you will have to consider fully resting in the rest of the day. Likewise, you can always take another stroll to check the surroundings and find some extra souvenirs.
Arrive at Shanghai Pudong international airport (PVG). Seven Cups will pick you up from there. The pick-up is included in the price.