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Teashop

Learn about chinese tea and see plantations in Yunnan... where can we start?

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Teashop

Hello!!

We are a young couple (costa rican-french) and we are taking a trip around Asia to learn all we can about tea. We dream to open a tea house and offer delicious chinese, taiwanese and japanese tea so here we are.

Taiwan and Japan have been great and now we just arrived in Yunnan but we just dont know where to start! We thought we could rent a motorbike to go around the plantations but that seems impossible, and we speak no chinese!! It seems a bit frustrating but i think we can find the way, we are already here and sooo happy for that!!!

So i am not even sure what im asking, just some clue, some advise? we are in Mengla now and ready to move.... but how and where we dont know!

Thanks for any help you can give us, we are feeling so lost!!

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abcdefg

Welcome!

You are already in the right area for visiting tea plantations. South Yunnan is where most of Yunnan's Pu'er tea comes from. Dianhong can also be found there, although the best Yunnan Biluochun is arguably from the high mountains near Dali. Those are the three main varieties you should concentrate on in Yunnan.

Not sure what practical advice to offer as to how to get into the "tea scene" down there without speaking any Chinese. Your best bet might be go go over to Jinghong (about 2.5 hours from where you are by bus) and try to enlist the help of an interpreter from one of the backpacker hostels. Jinghong is a bit more on the "tourist trail" so your chances of finding a friendly bilingual local to take you around are better there. Maybe a high school or college student who has spare time because of winter vacation.

But your timing isn't the best, because it's currently Spring Festival; so lots of businesses are closed and lots of people have gone back to their home towns on holiday. Intercity busses will be a bit more crowed, and inexpensive lodging may be harder to find. Not saying it won't still work out OK; just saying it might be a little more difficult just now.

Yunnan's main "first flush" spring tea harvest should begin next month and taper off after Tomb Sweeping Day, which this year I think is April 4th. Doesn't mean you won't find any picking now; it just will not have peaked. Processing facilities will either be shut down or working with a skeleton staff at this time of year.

See what you can work out along these lines, and then come back to the forum with additional questions and I'll try my best to help. I live in Kunming and know a fair amount about the regional teas. If all else fails, I can tell you how to get to one of the large Kunming wholesale tea markets for some excellent tea sampling.

-----------------------------------------

Edit: Take a look at the Mengla page on Wikitravel if you haven't already. Might find some help from the guide they mention there. http://wikitravel.org/en/Mengla

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Teashop

Thank you very much!! So we are in Jinhong now and trying some teas, not easy as almost nobody speaks English! Hope to reach the plantations in these days.... i will get back to you. Are u into tea business?

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abcdefg

Glad you made it to Jinghong and found some teas to taste. That's a good start. The language barrier is rough. Try to find some young person who is out of school for winter holiday to help as an informal guide and translator. Wont' cost you much.

I'm not in the tea business, but I've lived in Kunming off and on for the last five or six years and am interested in tea as a hobby. I drink lots of tea here and I buy different local kinds when I travel inside China. I send a lot to family and friends back in the US as gifts.

Last summer a local tea master who was a friend of a friend kindly took me under her wing and tutored me in her home two days a week. Unfortunately, she has now moved to Chengdu. There's a lot to learn, and I'm still a beginner.

If you make it to Kunming, I'll show you where a couple of the wholesale tea markets are located.

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Teashop

I have another question about tea, other than tea markets do u think Kunming is a good place to buy tea accesories, pots, etc? We were planning to go to shanghai to get this things to sell in our shop but the fly ticket to get there, and then to hong kong, are out of our budget. Do u think we can get the same prices around here for those things??

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abcdefg

Tea sets, teacups, teapots and such other teaware are all available in the main wholesale tea markets at good prices in Kunming. The north market in particular has a lot of such items. I have not shopped for them in Shanghai, so I can't comment on whether they would be cheaper there or not.

Two other thoughts:

The best place in Yunnan to buy tea platters -- cha pan 茶盘 -- is right where you are now, Jinghong. Selection and prices there are hard to beat elsewhere. Some of the wood comes from Burma, where it is cheaper, and then is finished by Chinese craftsmen on the Yunnan side of the border.

The best place in Yunnan for purple clay (zisha 紫砂) teapots is Jianshui 建水. These are very similar in their flavor enhancing properties to the more famous Yixing 宜兴 teapots from Jiangsu, but less expensive. Jianshui is between Jinghong and Kunming. You could stop there on the way up and have a look.

Here's my Jinghong tea platter and my Jianshui teapot.

post-20301-0-26928700-1361194929_thumb.jpg

post-20301-0-96806100-1361195058_thumb.jpg

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anonymoose

That's either a small teapot, or you've got big hands.

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abcdefg

#7 -- Ha ha! My hands are average.

These little teapots generally fit in the palm of an average hand. Very different from an English teapot. And they are used differently as well. You put in a lot of tea leaves and brew the tea only a very short time before pouring it off through a strainer into a "temporary holding cup," from which you then fill the individual thimble-sized drinking teacups.

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