If you are interested in taking a trip somewhat like this, please let us know. Eileen and I are considering arranging a completely original tour of a lifetime, for a small group of fellow Trailhead Tea customers and friends of tea.
The Purpose of our trip was an immersion in PuEr Tea. We look at it this way... several years ago, few people knew about Matcha green tea powder. We learned as much as possible, and did our part in promoting understanding. Now you see it everywhere, but still few can answer your questions. Two years ago, we took an immersion trip about Oolong Tea to be able to share info and than offer many new tea choices to our customers. Now PuEr is the next hot tea! By traveling, expanding our education & adding to our inventory, we hope to be the best place in Arizona or even the southwest to learn, taste, enjoy, & purchase PuEr.
Xiaguan Headquarters in Kunming - Visiting, learning & tasting, then purchasing tea directly from the factories are the highlights of our trip. Xiaguan is a famous producer of aged PuEr tea compressed and shaped as a bowl or bird's nest called a TuoCha, or a mushroom called a JinCha. We also traveled to Dali to visit Xiaguan's museum. We arranged a shipment of TuoCha and mini JinCha that hopefully will arrive in November. Click any photo to enlarge.
HaiXinTang Factory In Kunming & its Famous Sister Factory in DaDuGang, Xishuangbanna - We spent a considerable amount of time with HaiXinTang in their shop in Kunming's largest wholesale tea market, where we first met one of the owners. We were then invited to tour both their Kunming and the more southern DaDuGang tea factories. In exchange for their kind hospitality and quality tea, we purchased PuEr tea cakes (called BingCha) and many kilos of mini cakes/bricks that we feel will be very popular at Trailhead Tea. We were able to transport these during our return, so they are available our store now. Click to enlarge.
Yunnan Zun Zhong Tea Company - An 80 year old family tea company. We tasted and learned much about their PuEr tea over two days. They produce very high quality tea that sells only within China, yet they were very approachable to us (one manager spoke some English). We selected a few special PuEr cakes to bring home, including one Mt Yiwu ancient tree cake (leaves from over 100 year old trees), and one old tree (leaves from 40-100 year old trees). Click to enlarge.
Zeng Tea Factory in Menghai - We spent three days with Zeng HuaWei and his wife Miss Wang Jiang, who are the next generation managing the factory after the retirement of his famous tea-master father YinRong. Menghai is the epicenter of Puer tea, and we were given an insider's role picking, processing, testing & tasting, aging techniques (traditional raw/sheng & accelerated cooked/shu), loose leaf vs compressed, understanding defects, blending, and grading a number of Yunnan PuEr & HongCha (black tea). We learned the ancient hand-made processing method, and also witnessed newly built modern automation. We shared meals with the family and seemed to always have endless Q&A sessions. We even compressed our own PuEr cakes, with Mt Yiwu leaves of course (could be an extra special Tea Of The Month someday)! Click to enlarge.
Other Various Tea Shops Throughout Yunnan Province - So many purveyors we met on the road from Kunming, to Puer City, to Xishuangbanna, to Menghai, to Dali... Sometimes we just tasted and talked, a couple of times we bought something for the collection. We found an amazing Mi Xiang Hong Cha (Honey Black Tea), a crazy expensive ancient tree black tea (only 100 grams, so you will need to beg us to taste), and an unusually special Black Bi Luo Chun (not for sale - we will reserve for only our Tea Of The Month customers). Click to enlarge.
A Visit to the Ancient Tea Horse Road in Dali - It's called the "Southern Silk Road", because for over a thousand years the Tea Horse Road was the ancient trade route for tea between Yunnan China and India, then eventually Persia and Europe. One of the roads' origins is in the City of Puer, which of course we had to visit and take a photo to prove we were there. Click to enlarge.
The Food in Yunnan! - In 2016 we traveled through Fujian Province, and while the oolong tea was superlative and memorable, the food was just ok. If you are a foodie, we highly recommend Yunnan. Every meal including some street food, again & again seemed like the best meal of the trip so far. Click to enlarge.
A Small Bit of Goofing Around - This was almost three weeks of a serious business trip, but there were a few sightseeing adventures that got in the way of the next tea stop: Eileen donning local fashion, Village farmer's markets, Buddhist temples, the Stone Forest, the Butterfly Spring, Pagodas, and the most incredible, serene boutique hotel in Dali (or anywhere). Click to enlarge.