Immersion: China~Green

*** Sample Itinerary - Cost depends on itinerary and dates ***

Shanghai, The Pearl of the Orient, is the optional pre-tour extension for this special program. And the first stop on our adventure is the fresh water pearl factory and showroom. After a delicious lunch we'll visit the offices of a tea export company for an informative meeting the tea trade. Traditional Chinese Medicine has a history of over 5000 years and we'll get a glimpse into the fascinating practices with a visit to a TCM hospital. After our welcome dinner we'll attend the spectacular performance by the world famous Shanghai Acrobats.

The next morning we'll take in the sights of the city with a walk along the iconic Bund, Shanghai's Main Street. Then enjoy the skyline ship board as we take a cruise on the Huangpu River. In the afternoon we'll go back in time with a tour of Old Shanghai and the Yu Garden a former villa of a Qing Dynasty official. Cap it off with some time to relax at the famous Mid-Lake Pavilion Tea House and then a dinner of tasty dim sum. The next morning we'll tour the historic French Concession, the former enclave of the French Traders. Next we'll wander the expansive tea market tasting teas from all over China. Our lunch to day is a special all-vegetarian banquet  and then we'll tour the lively Jade Buddha Temple and taste some of the healing herbal infusions at their tea house.

The base tour begins with our coach ride to the beautiful city of Hangzhou, home to the world famous Long Jing (aka Dragon Well). We'll stretch our legs with a visit to Tiger Run Spring, the legendary source of the best water for brewing Dragon Well tea. Next we'll tour the historic Lin Yin Buddhist Temple and observe faithful pilgrims making offerings to the deities in exchange for wishes granted. Our next stop is the old Dragon's Well where we'll hear the folk tale, from which the tea gets its name. After dinner we'll enjoy the ambiance at one of the local tea houses.

After a morning walk around the placid West Lake, we'll formally begin our studies with a seminar at the National Tea Research Institute. After a break for lunch we'll have a lecture on Green Tea with an introduction to the major categories and a tasting of some exemplary teas. Today we also meet with a local tea company and tour the tea garden which will be our classroom for the next 2 days. Our evening concludes with a manager's reception and welcome dinner.  Next, put on your picker's basket and head for the tea bushes.

The next two mornings we will learn the fine points of plucking the finest leaves. Studying with a 22nd generation tea maker, each day you will sit at the wok and learn the special techniques in the traditional hand-made processing method. After lunch the study turns to the academic side of things with lectures and classes on bush varietals and propagation, garden maintenance, tea culture and history, tea tastings where we'll examine other well-known teas as well as grades and seasonal differences. Fresh with knowledge of Dragon Well production, we'll shift gears and locations driving to the canal city of Suzhou.

This ancient city is known for its arched bridges and also for one of China's most famous and historic, tribute teas; Bi Luo Chun, (aka Green Snail Spring). Participate in a tea culture and history lecture and then tour a tea garden and factory that makes the famous tea. Our agenda for the next two days will be as thorough as our time in Hangzhou. In the mornings work side by side with tea picker mentors and learn how to select the very special tea leaves needed to make Bi Luo Chun. Then, we get to work in the factory learning the closely guarded techniques. Afternoon class work is in small and large scale production issues, sustainable farming practices, bush varietals and includes tasting training sessions on quality differences and examples from different gardens. In the evening we'll be treated to a night of traditional music and dance at the Master of Nets Garden.

Our final day includes a relaxing morning cruise through the canals, a visit to the silk factory, lunch with tea dishes, and tour of the famous Lion Garden where we will have our final exam. Celebrate our new skills and knowledge in a traditional tea house and finish off with a stop at a few local tea shops.   

Yixing, a famous pottery center for nearly 2000 years, is also the birthplace of the teapot. Our fun continues on the optional post-tour extension with our coach ride past the scenic Tai Hu (lake Tai) ending up in the "pottery city" where we'll tour the national tea ware museum and receive a lecture on Yixing pottery. We'll have a full day's immersion into the refinement of the special "purple" clay, teapot manufacture both in a large scale factory and then a small private studio workshop. After lunch, roll up your sleeves and make your own teapot under the tutelage of a master teapot craftsman.

With a new appreciation of the skill and artistry needed to make these special teapots, we'll visit a teapot market for a chance to see and acquire some new treasures. The final day of our tour includes some final sightseeing with a visit to the intriguing Tai Ji Men caves and Taoist temple, a state-run factory that produces local black and green teas, and after our drive back to Shanghai, a farewell banquet where we'll reminisce over favorite memories and special moments that will stay with us forever.

The exceptional 8 day base tour program and 3 day optional pre- and post-tour extensions are filled with exciting, educational and authentic  experiences, sure to delight both professionals and devoted tea drinkers, providing memories that will last a lifetime. Due to the unique nature, space is limited, so please make your reservations early.