October 23-30, 2018
(aligned with the Xiamen Intl. Tea Fair - Oct 2018
For nearly 5000 years, tea has been an integral part of Chinese life. It left China by sea eventually spreading world-wide. The port of Xiamen (ancient Amoy) was one of the primary embarking points on the ocean Silk Road and Fujian was one of the first places that provided tea to the foreign market. On this specially organized tour, visit some of the most important tea production centers of Fujian Province and delve into the history, manufacture and culture of China's national beverage.
Day 1 - Coordinating with the 4 days of discovery at the landmark China Xiamen International Tea Fair, our hands-on adventure into tea begins with a short orientation and welcome then we board our private coach and depart for the mountainous tea gardens of AnXi one of the original productions sites for oolong teas. Stopping at the huge Capital City Tea market, taste some examples of the fine teas from the region and then visit the tea museum for an overview on the history and production of Anxi teas. In the afternoon we'll drive up into the tea hills to our home for the next two nights, the guest house at the tea factory, where spirited tea tasting sessions often continue until late at night.
Day 2 - This morning we'll enjoy a walk through the tea garden, learning how to pick the much prized jade leaves that are made into oolong tea. Then we take our leaves back to the factory to learn the intricate steps of Tie Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy) tea making. Taste the freshly made tea and then, after a hearty tea-picker's lunch we'll drive to pay a special visit to the mother Tie Guan Yin bushes. Enjoy another night in the fresh mountain air.
Day 3 - In the morning we return to Xiamen. One of the iconic sights of Xiamen is Gulangyu, also called Piano island. Once the residences and enclave for foreign traders, we'll take the ferry to the island and have some free time to tour the popular sights, finishing with a visit to an historic tea shop. After lunch we'll visit the offices of a tea company to learn about trade and export then enjoy a tea tasting of some benchmark as well as special teas. Tonight, delight in a dinner and show featuring colorful ethnic dance and music.
Day 4 - First up is a barefoot stroll along the beach-lined sea shore. Observe local people enjoying their morning and meeting over small cups of tea along the parkway. Wipe the sand from your feet and jump on board for our boat tour of the sea port to observe how tea is loaded aboard the cargo ships bound for other parts of the world. After lunch we transfer to the train station and catch our train for the historic, fabled tea mountains of Wuyi Shan. Dinner upon arrival and retire for the night in the guest house of the tea factory.
Day 5 - WuYi Shan is the ancient hometown of many famous teas and this morning our sights are set on Lapsang Souchong black tea. Tour the factory to learn the unique manufacturing methods and taste some examples of traditional and newly developed teas. After a discussion on the storied history of this tea we will enjoy our lunch. Everyone rinse out your tasting cups because we're moving on to oolong teas. WuYi oolong teas, sometimes called "rock" teas are some of the most prized in the world. We will receive instruction in proper tea leaf picking and then take our harvest back to the factory to make our own. Visiting the factory, appreciate the manufacturing differences between the darker WuYi oolongs and the greener oolongs we saw in Southern Fujian. Of course we'll have a chance to taste several benchmark teas such as Osmanthus (Ro Gui), Little Red Robe (Xiao Hong Pao), Iron Arhat (Tie Luo Han), 105 and others. Dinner then to bed (or maybe spend a few hours in a tea house?)
Day 6 - We are students today and we have enrolled in a special program at the Wuyi Shan University, one of the first to offer comprehensive education in tea. We'll meet our professor and begin our study with a little tea history and tea production in ancient times. We'll also cover topics of tea science and modern research and developments. After lunch we return to our studies with intensive training on the tea ceremony. Practice, pay close attention and refine your skills so you can pass the final exam. Before dinner we'll have some free time to visit tea shops.
Day 7 - Wuyi Shan is also the home to some of China's most beautiful natural scenery as well as spiritual traditions. First, we'll follow the path between the cliffs, through the tea garden of different tea bush varietals and stop to see the famous Big Red Robe tea bushes which grow right out of the rock face. Hear the story of this legendary tea and then make our way back down the path for our next adventure - a bamboo raft ride down the Nine Bend Stream. Our lunch today will be a very special, all vegetarian feast at the Rui Yan Buddhist temple. Following the delicious meal we will tour the temple and hear about tea's relation to the Buddhism and it's role in daily monastic life. Our dinner tonight will be with local tea people and new friends.
Day 8 - After breakfast we bid farewell to Wuyi Shan, pack up our things and board the train back to Xiamen. For those not staying for the Xiamen Intl. Tea Fair, transfer directly to the airport upon arrival and head for home with camera's full of memories (and most likely a bit of tea).
This 8 day tour is packed full of exciting, interesting, and authentic experiences. The exciting itinerary is sure to delight both tea professionals and novice tea drinkers, providing invaluable education and special memories that will last a lifetime. Due to the unique nature of this tour, space is limited, so please make your reservations early.