The Details for the 2020 Spring Tea Tour
Tour date: March 29th – April 6th, 2020
Duration: 8 days in China
Tour cost: $ 3850
Single room supplement: Rooms will be shared. Single rooms will require an additional cost of $500.
Minimum deposit: $2,000 (refundable until February 1st, 2020 minus credit card processing fees.)
Tour cost includes: Local travel, all meals, all hotels, and all entry fees to events/museums from March 29th to April 6th
Tour cost does not include: Airfare to Shanghai Pudong International Airport and from Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, visas, immunizations, traveler’s medical insurance, and tips are not included. We’re happy to advise you in booking your flights to China and procuring your visa.
Physical demands: Travel in rural areas is physically demanding. Guests should be prepared for hiking and occasional rough terrain. If you are unable to hike due to joint, blood pressure, balance issues, or a fear of insects, please be aware that this may limit your experience on the tour.
To reserve your space on this tour, please contact us.
Getting Ready for Your Tea Tour
Please follow these steps to assist you in preparing for your trip. We want you to have a great time with us, so don’t hesitate to call (520) 628-2952 if you have any questions.
Step 1: Review These Important Dates
February 1st, 2020
Full payment is required by this date and all paperwork is due at this time. We will send you the paperwork you need when you sign up for the tour. February 1st, 202o is also the deadline for cancellations — if you decide to cancel please let us know by this date for a full refund minus credit card processing fees. If you cancel after February 1st, we cannot issue a refund.
February 15th, 2020
We reserve the right to cancel a tour and fully refund all fees.
March 27th, 2020
Your tour begins!
Step 2: Make Pre-Departure Travel Arrangements
- Sign up for a tour by contacting us and paying for your tour.
- Send in your Tea Tour Waiver and copies of other documents (i.e. proof of health and travel insurance) as listed below. We will email the Tea Tour Waiver to you.
- Make sure that you have adequate health insurance and travel insurance for travel in China. If you don’t have this insurance, you can purchase it at one of the links below (see “Insurance Links”). Please send us proof of insurance along with your Tea Tour Waiver.
- Apply as soon as possible for your Chinese Visa. Contact us if you need help completing this form.
- Discuss immunization options with your doctor (see link below).
Make sure to have both medical and travel coverage. Austin recommends Travelex, but feel free to use the service that best meets your needs.
Step 3: Gather Important Documents/Information
Upon full payment, please submit copies of the Tea Tour Waiver as per instructions in the document. In addition to originals, please bring with you two copies of:
- Passport (photo page and Chinese Visa page)
- Health insurance information, in case you need to use it in China
- Travel and/or baggage insurance information, in case you need to use it in China
Step 4: Prepare Your Luggage
Please note that you will only be allowed one suitcase. You must be able to lift and carry your own bag as we will have no porters and will be in rural areas.
Please also consider bringing the following:
- First aid: antibiotics, personal first aid kit, prescription medicines in their original containers, sturdy shoes
- Things to do on a bus: download some of your favorite podcasts, music, books, knitting, art supplies, crafts (knitting, crochet)
- Things to share: Chinese love to see photos or post cards of where you live. You can even give these as gifts to our hosts.
Step 5: Get Ready to Have a Great Time!
Be Prepared: Touring the Chinese countryside is physically demanding. On these tours, be prepared for the following types of activities: Walking, hiking, bus travel, and even bamboo boat travel! Even though the days are long we will provide a comfortable place to sleep, usually a 4 star hotel with a great breakfast.
Be Flexible: Over the past several years, we have learned that plans in China are always subject to change. Flexibility is key, especially in the countryside where few foreigners have ventured! We appreciate your flexibility, and will do everything possible to ensure that this tour exceeds your wildest expectations. Prepare to have your socks knocked off!
- US Department of State – A Safe Trip Abroad provides travel tips that may help you avoid serious difficulties during your overseas travel.
- US Department of State also offers China-specific advice.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers information to assist travelers and their health-care providers in deciding the vaccines, medications, and other measures necessary to prevent illness and injury during international travel.
- For information on packing light, Rick Steves has a forum created by users. It’s European-centric, but a lot of the information is applicable to China.
- Journey Women provides women-centric traveling and packing advice.
- Lonely Planet’s guides can be purchased online and printed at home. You can purchase specific chapters. They have Thorn Tree – a great forum.
If you would like to do a slide presentation or write an article about your trip, please let us know and we will do everything we can to make sure that you are fully prepared to share your adventure.
Thanks again for your interest in our tours — we can’t wait to travel with you! Please contact us with any questions you may have.
Day-By-Day Itinerary for 2020 China Tea Tour
Day 1 (March 29th) Pickup at Airport
To be on time for the beginning of this tour, you must arrive in Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport (airport code PVG) no later than March 29th, 2020 at 12:00 Noon. From there you will take a few hours drive to Huzhou City where we will have a restorative afternoon tea session where you can recover from your long flight while sampling freshly made teas from this Spring. In the evening we will share the first dinner of the tour, tasting the distinctive regional cuisine of eastern China.
Day 2 (March 30th): Suzhou & Tai Lake (Bi Luo Chun Green Tea)
Today we will drive into the Tai Lake region to visit the origin of the Bi Luo Chun green tea. Authentic Bi Luo Chun comes from two places in Suzhou, Dong Shan and Xi Shan (now called Jin Ting Zhen). We will visit Jin Ting Zhen, which is an island in the large freshwater Tai Lake, and is known for having the best Bi Luo Chun. We will bring you to the tea maker we buy from personally in the authentic origin of this tea, Master Lu. Master Lu will take you to visit his garden and demonstrate each traditional step from plucking and hand-processing processing for making the best quality of Bi Luo Chun. Bi Luo Chun, is often faked on the open market in China, but Master Lu will teach you how to identify the flavor and characteristics of the real thing. Naturally this involves drinking plenty of freshly made Bi Luo Chun! We will have lunch with Master Lu on Tai Lake made fresh from the region’s gardens.
Day 3 (March 31st): Daytrip to An Ji (Green Tea & Black Tea)
Day 3 is all about An Ji, an area famous for its green teas, such as An Ji Bai Cha. An Ji Bai Cha was one of the Song Dynasty Emperor’s 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 we’ll 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 to drink this wonderful tea today — all An Ji Bai Cha that is grown today has descended from it. We’ll 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 we’ll 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.
Day 4 (April 1st): Yixing (Teapots and Ceramic Art)
This day is devoted entirely to the kilns and workshops of Yixing, a city bordering Tai Lake and famous for its pottery. Yixing tea pots 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. In addition to its tea pots, Yixing is famous for its Jun Tao ceramics, painstakingly adorned by the shaping of different colors of clay on top of each other. You’ll meet master potters and artists who will show you how to appreciate and use these ceramics, and they will make a pot in front of you. If you love Yixing pottery (we do!) this is the place for you. Yixing was famous during the Tang Dynasty for its Tribute Tea, called “Yang Mu Cha.” We’ll try the local black tea while we’re here.
Day 5 (April 2nd): Changxing (Tribute Tea Museum and Gu Zhu Zi Sun Green Tea)
You will drive into the beautiful bamboo forest that surrounds Changxing. Our first stop is the Great Tang Dynasty Tribute Tea Museum, a stunning monument to tea built as a replica of the Tang Dynasty’s imperial tea factory (8th Century). Here you witness a special green tea ceremony preformed in the Museum, and take time to learn about the great tea master, Lu Yu, the author of the first tea book in history. We will also see a special demonstration of how the factory made tea for the emperors of the Tang Dynasty.
You will then travel to Purple Bamboo Shoot tea garden and have lunch at the tea master’s 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. You’ll see how Purple Bamboo Shoot green tea is harvested and made in her small factory. Of course, you will get to drink freshly made Purple Bamboo Shoot green tea too!
Day 6 (April 3rd): Mo Gan Shan (Yellow Tea)
Today we will 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 Xiang Zhen, our Mo Gan Huang Ya master, who has gained notoriety not only by being the best in the countryside, but also because she’s a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry. We’ll take a walk through her organic tea garden at the top of Mo Gan Mountain, where you’ll have vistas of the whole county and a hands-on picking experience with the local tea bushes. Then we will travel to the factory and see the special process for making this tea. Of course, we will drink some of Ms. Wang’s tea as well!
In the afternoon, we will leave Mo Gan Shan for Hangzhou city, one of China’s most important cultural sites. Hangzhou is a beautiful city that’s popular with Chinese and foreign tourists alike. Hangzhou is known as the Tea Capital of China. When we arrive in the afternoon, we stroll around the city’s famous West Lake and enjoy its vistas.
Day 7 (April 4th): Shi Feng Long Jing and Hangzhou Tea Museum
Today we will visit the origin of arguably China’s most prestigious tea, Shi Feng Dragon Well. Dragon Well is West Lake’s most famous green tea, once designated for tribute to the Qing emperor. You will meet the Weng family of tea makers who will teach us about the traditional skills involved in hand-crafting Dragon Well and walk us through their tea garden in Shi Feng village. In their garden we will see the differences between local seed-grown tea bush varieties and newer modern cultivars. After lunch, we will stroll through the Qing Dynasty emperor’s Tea Garden near by. From there, we will go to visit the Hangzhou Tea Museum to see exhibits that span the 4500 year history of tea in China.
Day 8 (April 5th): Chinese International Tea Culture Institute
The Chinese International Tea Culture Institute is one of the main national governing bodies for the tea industry in China. Here you will have time to study the culture of Chinese tea brewing, experiencing how to make tea in formal and informal ways. A certified Tea Ceremony Master from the institute, Ms. Liang, will host you for both “family style” tea and a Chinese tea ceremony.
You will also have time to today to relax in the legendary scenery surrounding West Lake, taking in the springtime vistas at Lei Feng tower and Dream of Tiger Spring.
You’ll have a good night’s sleep (covered in the cost of tour) and be ready for your journey home the next day.
Day 9 (April 6): Back Home
You can schedule your departure for this day or spend more time in Hangzhou if you choose.