Seven Cups Tea Tour 2014
Tour date: April 14 – April 26, 2014 (exact dates subject to change)
Duration: 13 days in China
Tour cost: $4,550
Single room supplement: Rooms will be shared. Single rooms will require an additional cost of $750.
Minimum deposit: $2,000 (refundable until February 15, 2014 minus credit card processing fees.)
Tour cost includes: All local travel, all meals, all hotels, and all entry fees to events/museums from April 14 to April 26
Tour cost does not include: Airfare to and from Shanghai, visas, immunizations, and tips are not included. We’re happy to advise you in booking your flights to China and procuring your visa. Just let us know.
Day 1 (April 14) 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 April 14, 2014 at 2:00pm. Zhuping will meet everyone at the International Arrivals Terminal at 2:00pm on April 14th. From there you will take a few hours drive with everyone to the hotel in Changxing, which will be your hotel for the first few days of the tour.
Day 2 (April 15): Gu Zhu and Yi Xing (Green Tea and Pottery)
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). Seven Cups will arrange a special tea ceremony for you at the Museum. We will then drive to the 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. After lunch, 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.
After lunch we’ll drive to Yi Xing, a city bordering Tai Lake and famous for its pottery. Yingxing 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. You’ll 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. 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 3 (April 16): Daytrip to An Ji (Green 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 is one of the Song Dynasty Emperor’s favorite teas, but was lost for centuries until the early 1980′s. 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 17): Daytrip to De Qing County (Yellow Tea)
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, 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.
Day 5 (April 18): Drive from Changxing to Yellow Mountain City (Green Tea and Display Tea)
We 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. We will also go 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. Of course, we will sample some of those too! We’ll have dinner in a famous restaurant that is full of Chinese antiques.
Day 6 (April 19): Day trip to Qimen from Yellow Mountain (Green Tea and Black Tea)
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 master’s 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 we you can distinguish different grades of finished tea. On our way, you will also stop at the first place in history to produce loose-leaf hand-fired green tea. Today the region is one of China’s largest green tea producers. You will have a chance to survey its factory and growing operations, as well as study at the local tea culture museum.
Day 7 (April 20): Travel to Wuyi Mountain (Wulong Tea and Black Tea)
Today leave the green teas of An Hui province for Fujian province — the birthplace of wulong, black, and white teas. Once there we’ll meet a young tea master who is continuing the tradition of making Rock Wulong teas and the famous Lapsang Souchong black tea. We’ll drink many different Wu Yi rock Wulongs and Lapsang Souchongs to learn about the characteristics of Wu Yi teas.
Day 8 (April 21): Explore Wu Yi Mountain’s Tea Gardens (Wulong Tea)
Today we will hike into the heart of Wu Yi Shan Preserve and the top of Wu Yi Mountain to visit its famous tea gardens. We’ll study many different tea bushes, so you can understand how many different bushes can be made into Rock Wulongs. We 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. We will also learn about the different bushes, soils, roasting techniques, and grades that all yield different flavors of wulong. Come thirsty…we’ll taste a lot of tea today!
Day 9 (April 22): Visit Da Hong Pao Park (Wulong Tea)
Today we’ll go 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. We’ll hike in the scenic tea growing valleys where tea grows between rocks. Within the park are the mother bushes of Big Red Robe, the region’s most famous tea. We’ll have lunch in the area’s picturesque bamboo forest. After lunch we’ll 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. Throughout the day we will continue to visit different Wulong tea masters and learn to appreciate their distinct tea making styles.
Day 10 (April 23): Travel to Nanping (White Tea)
Today we’ll visit Nanping, a city with a long history of tea production and trade. We 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. We’ll taste a variety of white teas and some brand-new greens, Wulongs, and black teas that these producers have invented.
In the afternoon we will visit an ancient village near the tea gardens. The village is renowned for its original stone streets and houses, which have been preserved for hundreds of years. This village is not a well-known tourist destination, which means it has a lived-in feel and has retained its historical charm. From a Chinese perspective, it is rare to find such a village that survived wars and the Cultural Revolution.
Day 11 (April 24): Drive to Hangzhou
Today we’ll depart 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 will visit the city’s traditional markets for a chance to buy some local souvenirs.
Day 12 (April 25): Travel around Hangzhou and Travel to Shanghai (Green Tea)
We’ll take a daytrip around Hangzhou and start by taking a walk through the Emperor’s Tea Garden and visit the Hangzhou Tea Museum.
We will then visit with the oldest and most decorated tea master of Shi Feng Dragon Well, West Lake’s most famous green tea, originally designated for tribute to the Qing emperor. From him we will learn about the traditional skills involved in hand-crafting this prestigious tea.
Back to Shanghai: At the end of the day, Zhuping will help you get back to the hotel in Pudong, close to the airport. You’ll have a good night’s sleep (covered in the cost of tour) and be ready for your flight home the next day.
Day 13 (April 26): Back Home
You can schedule your departure for this day, or spend more time in Shanghai if you choose.
Touring the Chinese countryside is physically demanding. On this tour, be prepared to walk, hike, and travel by van and bus.
The days will be long, because we want to make sure you see as much as possible. We usually start our day around 8:00am, and get back to the hotel after 8:00pm.
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.