China: Tips that will make for a memorable trip
With its many landscapes and cultural wonders, needless to say China is a unique destination. Since 2003, both Francois and Jasmin have been exploring China and its great tea gardens and have put together some suggestions for a memorable trip:
Let go and live it to the fullest
If it's your first time in China, Francois Marchand strongly suggests to let go and be open minded. China is a huge country whose culture is very different from ours: thousands of years of history parallel to ours. So you can expect the unexpected: plans that don't follow through but also some wonderful surprises. Truth be told, it's by letting you that you can stumble on what's wonderful about China. Often, it is by resisting the local culture that you can actually have a very negative experience. After all, travelling is about discovering new things, isn't it?
An authentic tea house experience
As you can imagine, there are many different tea houses in any major city and that's why you should probably avoid the ones in touristic areas. They're likely overpriced and less authentic. Jasmin suggests to rather look into visiting a tea store where you can discuss with the locals and probably try some of their favourite gems.
Tea garden visit
Tea gardens are quite accessible in China so you shouldn't worry about visiting without an appointment. While Long Jing is a lovely village with great infrastructures and facilities it's also very touristic. Its prices are a bit over the average and some of the teas may not be locally sourced but in terms of gardens, it's definitely worth a look.
Other recommendations: Huang Shan (2h by train from Shanghai), Tangkou village or Junshan island in the Hunan province (where you can find find crops of the very famous and expensive Jun Shan Yin Zhen). Also it's quite the boat ride.
The price of tea in China can greatly vary. Obviously, if you buy from the producer it'll be less expensive than the reseller. Oddly enough, the cost of tea in big cities such as Beijing or Shanghai is similar to the price we pay here. Unbelievable, but true! Thanks to our strong relations built over decades and the quantity that we buy, we can often resell the teas at less than what the locals can purchase themselves! Bottom line: if you like the taste of the tea and you enjoy the company of the person who's selling it to you - if the price seems right to you, then those should be the only criterias.
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