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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

2011 Spring Harvest Tea Tour to China

Freshly picked green tea leaves
Longjing Xia Ren (龙井虾仁), or shrimp with Longjing tea - a local delicacy from Hangzhou
Understanding tea needs experience. Little by little, as we learn more about tea, all of us also learn how much more we don't know. Tea is deeper, broader and more diverse than any one lifetime. It's an inheritance we have received from the lifetimes of the hundreds of others who have come before us and given us their wisdom. It's a collective effort in which we each have our little part, and it is by sharing them together that we generate wealth.  

This is how culture is different from commerce: The more the former is shared freely between individuals, the richer it is, and the more benefit we get. Conversely, if we don't put much in, we won't get much benefit. Since it's something we have to be able to share, if we've never given much to it, we'll never get much from it; in fact, we'll never even know what we're missing. A lot of life is like this, isn't it?

So, what's the best way to develop a correct education about tea, then? Tea isn't simply an idea. As a practice, we need to give it time to see what perspective it brings into our lives. It's something we need to experience physically and feel emotionally. Mentally, we have to understand its background - its history, culture, production, and to taste the most authentic teas. Where to do this? Well, it couldn't hurt to go to the motherland of tea - China. 

At this point, you might be thinking: "China? That might be the perfect place to learn about tea, but I don't speak any Chinese. In addition, China is so big, just where would I go?" 

Or, some of you might be thinking something like: "China? I went there already - Beijing, Shanghai, Hongkong - lots of tall buildings, shopping malls, cars and people, people, people, all of them running after money. What you write about tea here in this blog is very pretty, but it's not what I saw while I was there."  

I also recently heard a complaint from a Western tea drinker about his last trip to China. "The trip was fantastic," he said, "but it was the longest time I didn't have any tea." Of course I was surprised. "How is it possible you went to China and didn't have tea?" I asked. His response: "Because all the teas in the restaurants there are bad."  

This made me feel embarrassed and sorry, particularly since Chinese tea culture is something I'm rather proud of. I wish I could have been there to tell him where to get the best and freshest teas. 

Well, I've decided to do exactly that, if you are a tea lover, tea explore, in the tea business, want to discover Chinese culture, or just want to release your stress and visit the places in my sideshow (among others), here is a wonderful opportunity for you - a 14-day immersion into the world of Chinese tea; agriculture, production, culture, traditions and landscape. 

The trip is organized by the Cha Dao Foundation. It will offer you a path into the heart of tea, and will be a unique adventure, packed full of fun, education, excitement, surprise, exploration and breathtaking natural beauty.

Some exceptional tour highlights include:

* Meet tea makers and potters
* Explore remote mist-covered tea plantations
* Join the tea harvest with farmers
* Hand-make your own teas and teapots
* Learn about the agriculture and processing of tea from different regions
* Visit ancient tea gardens where Emperors once relaxed with tea in hand and see ancient tea trees over a thousand years old
* Tour historic landmarks of the Ming and Qing dynasties
* Feel the charm of China's many colorful traditions as we visit several famous tea producing and cultural regions
* Experience the beauty and serenity of the tea farmers’ countryside life
* Enjoy local organic food specialties
* Taste exquisite, authentic, freshly handmade teas
* Join excursions to remote tea gardens where you can pick and even hand-make your own tea
* Receive a tea education in the gentle and friendly ambiance of numerous tea houses
* Participate in tea ceremonies and tea performances  
* Plus many more moments of discovery and exploration

Why choose this trip?

1.      The pace of our trip will be relaxed, for you to have time to feel the deep culture of tea and its traditions, the atmosphere and landscape. You will experience authentic countryside tea garden life, which you can not discover in big cities like Beijing or Shanghai, and will miss if you have only been given enough time to take a photo and then hurry on to another viewpoint.

 2.     Our trip limits the number of participants to 8 persons. We have two tour guides to pay close attention to everyone and make sure your trip is comfortable, educational, exciting and fun.

3.      The itinerary of our trip is flexible. We are happy to change our schedule to visit the places which most interest you.

4.      Our trip will provide you ample chances to communicate freely with tea masters, tea makers, teapot potters, and tea business people.

5.      Our trip will give you the hands-on opportunity to produce your own tea.

6.      Our trip will include lessons about both spoken Chinese and the history of tea.

Trip Details:

Travel Dates: April 01 – April 15, 2011 (exact dates subject to change)
Trip length: 14 days, 14 nights
Activity level: Relaxing, moderate to strenuous
Number of travelers: 5 to 8
Tour cost: $3,250 (Single room supplement: $650)
Minimum deposit: $1,500 (refundable until 45 days prior to departure)
Tour cost includes: All local transportation, meals, hotels, and event + museum tickets from April 01 to April 14 (accommodations for the night before the tour begins are not included)
Tour cost does not include: Airfare to and from Shanghai, visas, immunizations, cost on day 15 in Shanghai, shopping and personal expenses.

To book your tour
Please contact me at or leave a message at (425) 200-5318

Due to the unique nature of this tour, space is limited, so please make your reservations early.

Please click here to learn about the Daily Itinerary or visit to download the daily itinerary.

Whether you can join me for this trip or not, I hope you continue to develop your own experience of tea. It's a path that never ends, but every step of the way is beautiful. I hope I can sometimes offer a small taste of that in this blog. More soon! 

With best wishes and a small pot of Da hong pao,


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About Me

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Seattle, WA, United States
I grew up with tea, and it continues to fill my life with so much beauty and discovery, pleasure, peace and friends. It is always leading me toward a greater understanding of culture, nature, myself and others. It is my hope to use this space to share the joy of tea and tea culture with you.