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Travelling for tea? Here are China's best spots

For tea aficionados, travelling for tea brings about the same heady buzz that wine lovers get when visiting vineyards. Legends of the origins of tea abound, and the most popular goes back in time to 2737 BC where a few leaves were blown into a bowl of hot water that Emperor Shennong was drinking. He found it surprisingly pleasant, and voila, tea was born. The drink was introduced to Portuguese merchants in the 16th century and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, you can trace the tea back to its origins, and discover the myriad varieties and techniques of growing and preparing this lovely, delicate beverage that has transcended through time and space to your very own kitchen.

Longjing Tea in Hangzhou

Escape the madness of Shanghai in a high-speed train and in an hour, you’d find yourself in beautiful Hangzhou, one of the most beautiful cities in China. It seems perfectly apt that this is where one of the world’s favourite great teas, the Longjing, is grown.

Longjing grows amongst the hills close to the poetic West Lake, and was named after the Dragon Well in Longjing Village. The cultivation of this variety goes back over 1,200 years and is loved for its clear green colour and fresh and mellow aroma.

Explore the tea villages and plantations on a bicycle, or simply head to the little teahouses close to West Lake and transport yourself to whole new balanced state of mind.  For tea geeks, don’t miss the chance to get educated at the China National Tea Museum. 

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Image Credit: Vladimir K, Flickr

Pu’er tea in Yunnan

Pu’er tea can turn a tea lover into an insufferable addict. Pu’er is often compared to wine, and can be described with terms that sound all too familiar to one who reads too many wine reviews- “ complex”, “ woody”, and even “ dark fruit notes”. 

Unlike many other teas, Pu’er is fermented and aged, and the most well aged cakes of tea fetch prices that warrant some interest in investment.  Not only is the tea itself a heady brew of rich flavours, its history is just as interesting.  Pu’er is produced in the south of Yunnan,and hundreds of years ago, was carried, on foot, overland on the ancient Tea Horse Road that links Yunnan and Tibet.  This was done in exchange for Tibetan mountain horses that were prized for their sturdiness. 

Today, you can trek through Pu’er tea plantations in Xishuangbanna, home to Dai minority group, and get yourself cakes of tea in the colourful local markets.

Explore the tea villages and plantations on a bicycle, or simply head to the little teahouses close to West Lake and transport yourself to whole new balanced state of mind.  For tea geeks, don’t miss the chance to get educated at the China National Tea Museum. 

tea-cake-504706_960_720-min.jpgImage Credit: Pixabay

Tie Guan Yin in Anxi

Tie Guan Yin literally translates to Iron Goddess, and is a reference to the Goddess of Mercy. This premium Oolong tea is slightly fermented, and is a great choice for those who want both freshness and depth in a cup of tea. Tie Guan Yin is also hailed for its high antioxidant levels and its energy-enhancing properties without the high level of caffeine that comes with coffee. 

Anxi county in Fujian province is definitely the place to go if you want to visit Tie Guan Yin plantations or purchase tea for your entire generation.  It’s known as one of China’s tea capitals, and thankfully, tea is harvested regularly throughout the year so, you may very well have a chance to catch the harvesting in action.

Da Hong Pao on Wuyi Mountain

Want a taste of tea that’s worth more than gold? Make a trip to Wuyi Mountain in Fujian, and get the closest you can ever be to the legendary Da Hong Pao, a revered variety of dark Oolong tea. The name literally means big red robe, and that itself should conjure images of ancient royalty, which should then conjure further images of very expensive beverages.

Although you can easily purchase inexpensive Da Hong Pao, the original Da Hong Pao is a millionaire’s tea because there simply aren’t many of the native tea trees left.  Genuine Da Hong Pao originates with a cutting from the native trees on Wuyi Mountain, which itself is spectacularly beautiful and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

tea-557436_960_720-min.jpgImage Credit: Pixabay 

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