NEW: from May 6th, 2024

Spring tea tour: Yunnan

Xishuangbanna-Nannuo-Kunming-Pasha-Yiwu area-Menghai-Laobanzhang-Hekai

Production, selection, and culture

The 2024 tea leaves are still tender buds moistened by the tail of the rainy season; the Yunnan mountains awaits for the spring, with fragrances and aromas to be discovered.Our spring tour start from our studio in Xishuangbanna, in south-west Yunnan, and we explore all the most important mountains and tea-forests of Yunnan. We will brew together the best teas, we speak with the producers and assist them in their work, we walk their lands; we will be hosted by skilled pottery masters and professionals, we will attend to scholars' workshop on Gongfucha and Yixing, and we will live of our passion for tea.

We chose the quieter period of the spring tea, when it is possible to taste all the new teas in maocha and assist to the production: we can se the mountain production and the refinement in the city's workshops, trying to experience each step by ourselves.

In this travel you will find everything that makes up Eastern Leaves: our Yunnan, an in-depth of Chinese culture, and all the people that makes our tea-journey meaningful.  

May 6th - May 18th: Spring tea in Yunnan

Info and registration

Itinerary

Day #1 - taste of the old Dai kingdom

Xishuangbanna

We welcome our guests to our place, in Xishuangbanna valley, for a comfortable rest with tea, seasonal fruit and food to recover from the fatigue of your travel. We regroup in a villa next to our studio, that will be your base for the whole duration of our trip in the lands we love so much.

Day #2 - the enchanted mountain

Nannuo forest

We wake up surrounded by the pu’er tea mountains, and we begin our itinerary by heading towards Mount Nannuo: we pay homage to the oldest 800 years old tree, and immerse ourselves in the forest of Eastern Leaves.

For lunch we reach one of our Nannuo mountain base, in Shitou xinzhai, and after a proper rest we get ready for tea picking, withering, and tea making. According to the weather, we will make either pu’er, .red or white tea, assisting a local producer. 
The dinner will be in the mountain

Day #3 - The heart of tea trade and production

Menghai

In the morning we plan a 5Km walk to explore the height of Nannuo and reach its Bama side, the most prestigious and isolated; note: for whoever feels uncomfortable with the hike, most of the walk can be supported by SUV.
We will explore different tea-gardens and forests, cultivars and species, and we will picnic on the mountain.
In the late afternoon we visit a lush tropical garden surrounded by forest, which houses the ceramic workshop of an innovative master we love: Qiu Laoshi and his creations. His work is deeply rooted in his territory: he uses only local sands and plant-based ashes for his glazes, and each of his production-season has a different hue.

Day #4 - Dai pottery and tea valley

On the way to Kunming

In the morning we move to Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan, placed at 2.100 meters of altitude between the tropical south and the Himalayan north.
It is located three and a half hours by train from Xishuangbanna; we arrive in early afternoon: we will be welcomed by Master Zhou Chonglin, one of the greatest pu'er tea expert and tea-book publisher.
We meet him immersed in his tea-books, and we will listen to his thoughts on the current evolution of the industry.

Day #5 - The way to the old Capital

Kunming

We meet Li Haibo, master and high-level teacher, for an in-depth workshop on gongfucha serving: we will review the Chinese tea ceremony, technique and movements, brewing teas  from his impressive collections.
After a lunch with his private chef, we dive into Zisha clay from Yixing, studying its history and the most important shapes.

Day #6 - The ancient tea horse road

Kunming

We dedicate the day to practice and literally craftsmanship: we are called to use our hands, first in brewing and studying practicalities of a Yixing teapot, and then, in the afternoon, making our own tea-pet in original Yixing clay under the guide of Li Hai Bo.
The lunch is with private chef, the dinner is a selection of Kunming food.

Day #7 - The modern era of pu'er tea

Kunming - Xishuangbanna

We cross the Cuihu lake toward the old city, where we meet one of the most important figures for the contemporary pu'er tea history: Mr. Hu, that in 2005 walked with a caravan of 120 horses laden with pu'er tea from the town of Pu'er in southwest Yunnan to Beijing - about 3000km to the northeast.
We will taste the original 2005 teas from the caravan.
In the afternoon we head back to Xishuangbanna.

Day #8 - THE POTTERY COURTYARD

Xishuangbanna

In the morning we climb the twin mountain of Nannuo, Pasha: we will visit Eastern Leaves ancient trees in Lunan, enjoy the lush vegetation and a meal in the forest. 
In the afternoon we reach the outskirts of Xishuangbanna, north of the Mekong River to visit Mrs. Zhang Laoshi's traditional Dai pottery workshop, which represents her ethnic tradition of pottery working with three different kilns: gas, wood and dragon. 

Day #9 - Flowery fragrance and pu'er

Yiwu

We travel in south-east direction, toward the Laos border: the destination of our travel are the peaks of Yiwu, home to a wide variety of tastes, landscape, and producers.
Our first stop will be the town of Yiwu, at the first stop of the tea-horse road: we visit the most historical houses and lanes, the square where the pu'er tea was exchanged and loaded for centuries, and the local museum.

Day #10 - The gentle leaves

Yiwu

We wake up surrounded by the Yiwu peaks and fragrances, and we start our day with an horizontal tasting of different micro-valleys; then we visit two different tea-villages and forests in Luoshuidong and Mahei, exploring the cultivars, terrains, and meeting the farmers.
In mid-afternoon we start our journey back to Xishuangbanna, driving slowly through the tropical hills of Mengla.

Day #11 - the king of the pu'er mountain

Menghai is the center of the most renowned - and busiest - area for the production of pu'er tea: it is surrounded by the Bulang area with Laobanzhang and Laoman'e, Pasha, Nannuo, Naka and many others, and brings together all the best professionals and factories.
We visit a pu'er tea refining plant and explore the local economy by dedicating our day to the best tasting of different teas: shupu with a master of his craft and rare shengpu from selected areas.

Day #12 - Bulang mountain

In the morning we head to Mengkun, to visit the mountain retreat of a local artist who is the living representative of his ethnic minority, the Hani-Akha: his name is Shuosan, and he has built a very personal museum in his native village, with ancient fabrics and cultural relics.
After lunch we climb the most famous mountain in the area, a symbol of the skyrocketing prices of pu'er tea: Loabanzhang, with its historic trees, evidence of ancient domestication, and the maximum security village that protects its treasure. We have a direct connection to three different families and will test the 2023 production.

Day #13 - A journey of fragrances

It is time to wrap-up all the tastes, teas, people, places and experiences we have encountered through our travel: we meet in the morning in our tea studio to brew together the very best mountains and vintages; we will make some Guanguan tea on the fire to warm up our soul before going on the way back home - or to continue your travel somewhere else. 

Our travel is designed by us, and it is independent by any travel agency: we bring you with us on Eastern Leaves routes, guided by a farmer and tea scholar, through places, tastes and people that are most menaningful for us.

From our travelers

I still can't believe I was in all these amazing places

"I am drinking a rock tea from Wuyishan at home, a month after our trip. Brewed in a beautiful Yixing pot that I bought in actual Yixing, and tea from the mountain that I hiked on. I still can't believe I was in all these amazing places... I am reminiscing about this holiday a lot. It was just perfect. People were incredibly nice. We had wonderful encounters with lots of lovely different tea people and the people in our group where the best. Tea people are so nice. We saw incredible things, drank the best teas and had so much fun together. Everything that was abstract for me beforehand, became concrete while traveling. It's hard to capture my feelings in words, but but I am back home for a month now and there was not a single day that I didn't think about the trip. I wasn't homesick while traveling, but I am tripsick now.

And all of this took place under the caring and enthusiastic guidance of Vivian and Lorenzo, truly two of the most kind, warm-hearted and knowledgeable people that I know."

W.E., from The Netherlands

We have become more sensitive and have touched beauty

"I want to consider a different approach. I don't want to make a review of what went well and what didn't go well. I don't want to dwell on individual stages and describe a fantastic world. I reject any image of travel, tea, an extraordinary country and all that. I want to forget any kind of knowledge I have. Tea lovers already know all about these things. I want to tell them that they don't need "yesterday" because it is the necessary condition to savor any moment with its different temperatures, colors and fragrances. Isn't this what happens when you drink forgotten tea? Isn't it like drinking a new tea, after all? When we abandoned the concept of tea bags, what did we do? We entered an ancient forest for the first time. We put our hands in the clay. We tasted food with a sparkling and surprising flavour. We have become more sensitive and have touched beauty. And this is where the world of Eastern Leaves becomes real"

D.N., from Italy

Our travel package includes accommodation in selected, cosy hotels, all the internal transportation, and meals. It doesn't include the A/R flight from/to your country of origin, visas (but we support your application), and insurance. 

We apply special rates for our Eastern Academy alumni:contact us to choose a date and customise together your travel at the origin of tea!

Contact us

Further travel options

Our plantations and Yunnan trips

We are available all year long for extensive, customised trips in southwest Yunnan, where we live. Our travels starts from the tea forest we own and cover all the most important tea mountains of Xishuangbanna, Simao/Pu'er and Lincang. We combine tea tasting, farming, tea market, Yunnan pottery and culture.

On site courses

We propose all the ranges of our courses on-site, both in our Xishaungbanna tea-room and workshop and in our tea-forest. 
Being physically surrounded by the small of soil and trees, being able to taste the fresh leaves, to touch them, and to live with the people involved in their production will make your study more intense and unforgettable.

Long-term stay

We welcome long-term visitors either for study, professional enhancements, or co-operations. Xishuangbanna is an ideal base to live and breath tea culture at every hour of the day; every road brings you to a tea mountain, and every conversation will leave you with new ideas and inspirations.

Find us

Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China

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