Day 1 (7/6) Arrival in Kunming
We’ll pick you up at the airport in Kunming. After your long trip, you’ll be ready for a relaxing break in a local teahouse, followed by a welcome dinner prepared especially for you. Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, sits at 6,207 feet. Our first night will help you ease into the altitude and get ready for the drive to Yi Wu Mountain the next day.
Day 2 (7/7) Kunming to Yi Wu Mountain
Southern Yunnan is covered in rainforests. Soak up the scenery as we drive to Yi Wu Mountain, which is the most famous of Yunnan’s six Puer-producing mountains. Along the way, we’ll pass over the highest bridge in Asia, called Yuan Jiang Da Qiao.
Lunch today is a real treat. We’ll stop in the countryside in Xishuangbanna, a renowned rainforest area and tourist destination. We’ll have barbequed wild pig, wild chicken eggs, and wild vegetables prepared by local minority people. These people are hunters, not farmers, so they hunt and gather what they need from the forest.
After lunch we’ll continue on to Yi Wu Mountain. As you enjoy the highland views and study the geography, you’ll start to understand why Puer tea tastes different from other teas, and why it deserves its own categories. You’ll also understand why it’s so hard to transport Puer down off the mountain and get it to market.
Day 3 (7/8) Yi Wu Mountain
Today we’ll visit an old tea cake factory that uses traditional techniques to make green Puer cakes. Then we’ll walk through ancient tea gardens and see a Yi Wu tea tree that’s over 200 years old. The mountain is famous for these old tea trees, some of which are hundreds of years old and measure 140-160 cm in circumference. The tallest stands at an amazing 23 meters.
After the tea gardens, we’ll head in to Yi Wu town to visit some family-owned factories that date back to the Qing Dynasty. Lao Hu, our tea master and guide, will even take you to have tea with a local family, so you can experience their unique style of drinking tea according to local minority customs.
Day 4 (7/9) Yi Wu to You Le Mountain to Puer City
You Le Mountain is another one of the six famous Puer-producing mountains in Yunnan. Tea bushes on You Le are famous for their rich, robust flavor. Today you’ll work with this tea and make your own Puer cake at a local factory, which you can take home as a souvenir.
After lunch, you’ll visit a tea factory to learn how Yunnan Black Tea and Green Tea is produced. You’ll learn how to pick tea in a nearby tea garden, which you can also collect as a souvenir. Then we’ll drive to Puer City and have a delicious local barbeque for dinner.
Day 5 (7/10) Puer City to Jinggu County
Every region of China has its own local breakfast customs. We’ll have breakfast in Puer City, stretch our legs at the Puer City Park and Tea Garden, and board the bus for a drive to Jinggu County. Charge your camera battery — you’ll want to take loads of photos of the scenery along the way to Jinggu. This is the county which set the standard for Puer tea before the market boomed.
Day 6 (7/11) Jinggu
Jinggu is a renowned Puer tea producing area, just like Yi Wu and You Le. After breakfast we’ll go to visit the go to small county to visit the 200-year-old Yang Ta Da Bai Cha tea tree. One of our Puer cakes comes from this tree. We’ll head up the mountain to pick tea from wild tea trees, and study the soil and other environmental elements that lend make Jinggu on of China’s best Puer-producing regions.
Day 7 (7/12) Jingu Puer Factory
At the Jinggu Puer Factory you’ll learn how to make the different shapes of Puer teas, such as cakes, bricks, tuochas, and loose-leaf. During a special lunch with the workers, you’ll have an opportunity to meet them, talk with them, and ask questions about anything you’d like to know. After lunch you’ll make your own Jinggu cake using a traditional stone press (another great souvenir!)
Day 8 (7/13) Jinggu to Yongping
Today you’ll learn about Buddhism’s history in China, and how the history of tea is intimately tied to Buddhism. We’ll visit two famous temples — one with a tower built in 1644, and another that devotees believe is imprinted with God’s handprints and footprints. The King of Thailand made a famous visit to this second temple in 2007 to pray. After visiting these temples we’ll go to visit the countryside of the Dai Minority people.
Day 9 (7/14) Yongping to Lincang
Lincang is a mysterious place in Yunnan because the mountains and bad roads make it very difficult to travel there. But the vistas and tea culture make it well worth the trip! We’ll cross the Mekong River Bridge — called the Lancang River in China — and peer down into the canyon. We’ll also visit some famous ruins and caves with stalactites.
Lincang is home to the Wa Minority. Their tea culture dates back 1,000 years, and has changed very little since that time. We’lll visit a Wa village to share some tea with them and see what it’s all about.
Day 10 (7/15) Lincang to Fengqing
Fengqing has the second-largest Confucian temple in Yunnan, built during the Ming Dynasty. It is a unique and valuable place to research ancient architectural techniques. After lunch, we’ll visit the famous Fengqing Yunnin Black Tea Factory. We’ll make time for a much-needed Chinese foot massage with Chinese herbs to release stress and fatigue.
Day 11 (7/16) Fengqing to Dali
Dali is a famous town and popular tourist destination. We’ll arrive in Dali in time for lunch, then visit the Dali Museum which showcases the history of Yunnan and its minority groups. Then we’ll relax and enjoy a Bai Minority tea ceremony, called San Dao Cha (”Three Step Tea Service”) with three completely different flavors that progress from bitter to sweet. The Bai use this ceremony to teach people that life gets better with time and hard work.
Day 12 (7/17) Dali Temples and Shopping
Today you’ll visit a temple from the Tang Dynasty (619-907 AD) that Marco Polo himself visited. There’s a 600-year-old tea tree inside! We’ll stroll through the old walled city and duck into shops for local handicrafts. After lunch you’ll have plenty of free time to travel around town, much of which has been rebuilt in the old style.
Day 13 (7/18) Dali
On your last day in Dali, you’ll visit the renowned Xia Guan Tuo Cha Puer Tea Musuem. After lunch we’ll head out to Er Hai Lake to see the how fishermen use birds (Yuyin) to fish!
Day 14 (7/19) Dali to Kunming
Today we’ll drive to Kunming and have special Yunnan cuisine for lunch. Then we’ll make an afternoon of drinking and studying Puer in a beautiful teahouse. A special dinner awaits — local wild mushrooms (”Treasures of the Mountain”) in hot-pan style. These highland mushrooms are famous in China for their flavor and nutritional quality. After dinner will visit a jade factory, since this part of Yunnan is known for producing some of the best jade in China.
Day 15 (7/20) Back home!
If time permits, we’ll take a walk through Cui Hu Park and shop for handicrafts before heading to the airport.
[From Summer 2009 Puer Tea Tour | Seven Cups Fine Chinese Teas]