Backpacking/Hiking with Tea

Planning on hiking the Te Araroa in February, I’ll be doing around 1200 miles in (hopefully) 3 months. That said, I can’t imagine doing it without tea.

What I don’t know is how to make tea while backpacking, and what kind of tea to bring (between wulong or puerh), due to weight restrictions, etc.

If anyone has any advice or experience please chime in!

I’ve thought about bringing a 200gr. bing of raw pu-erh.. it would be compact enough to fit easily in a backpack and would last the whole hike.

Wulong would be great (especially a Wuyi) but is rather space consuming, and I’m not sure how much space i’ll have to be able to carry 6oz of non-compressed tea.

A brewing vessel is of the biggest concern. Anything clay or porcelain would be fairly heavy not to mention easily broken.

A wulong I’m not worried about oversteeping when compared to a sheng puerh. So I could always just cold steep it in a Nalgene bottle as I’m walking. But that’s not quite the same as hot tea.

One tea, or many?

Again, any and all thoughts are appreciated.

20 Replies
cookies said

That sounds amazing, totally jealous! Maybe consider splitting the difference and going with a wuyi cake. I hike with a thermos (Thermos or Stanley brand) to brew tea every week, but don’t know if that would be too heavy for a long journey.


I’ve never heard of wuyi cake till now but quick google search and I’m interested. I saw some on red blossom tea co. Do you have any experience with wuyi cakes?

I’ve got a Stanley thermos, but it’s just way too heavy for what we’re looking at. Thermos empty weighs a few pounds and I’m trying to keep the teaware and tea under a pound.

Thank you

cookies said

Sorry, I don’t personally have experience with pressed wuyi.

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AllanK said

If you are going to hike for three months you should consider mailing yourself some tea along the route. You may be able to send it to local post offices along your route. I know that backpackers along the Appalachan Trail used to do this. I don’t know if you can still do this today in the post 9/11 world.

As for teaware I would avoid anything made out of glass or ceramics. You might want to pick up a metal travel tumbler or something like that. While backpacking I think anything breakable will get broken.


Thanks for the input, mailing will likely not be fiscally be an option, the Te Araroa is in New Zealand and we’ll be leaving from Florida, US so mailing would be a bit pricey/hard to time. I’ll look into it though.

I agree with that, I’m always presuming i’ll break everything.

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I would probably just boil water in kettle/pot and throw the tea in and steep it “western style”, or “grandpa style” in cups if other people want to use water for coffee or whatever. Of course you can get titanium teaware, but it will make your wallet cry, and it’s not really practical for brewing in the wilderness at all..

As for teas, I would definitely go with something compressed, it doesn’t necessarily have to be (only) puer though, there are compressed black, oolong, whites and probably others too.


Thanks for the suggestions. The titanium teapots are a bit out of my price range. I’m planning on doing the grandpa style, but hopefully after the leaves are a bit spent.. i’ll look into some compressed teas. Do you have a favorite company to buy compressed tea from?

Well 99% of my compressed teas are puer.. :-) But you can probably get them “everywhere”; Yunnan Sourcing and Chawangshop are two reliable sellers

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You could also try one of the many travel tumblers out there. I have a ton of reviewstuff on my site, but I generally suggest the Libre.

AllanK said

The Libre is glass? Likely to break while backpacking.

The inside is glass. The outside is plastic. :)

But, Teas Etc. has one. And it is all plastic.

Lala said

I’ve broken many Libre glasses. Love them, but sometimes even a small drop will break both the inside and outside walls. Probably not the greatest for backpacking.

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I am so jealous! I have done parts of this trail but never the entire bit. I did a 4 month long cycle tour with tea, but on a bike you can carry a bit more than on your back so a few questions for you: 1. What gear do you already have in your cook set? 2. How often is your resupply? We usually resupply for backpacking at 10 -14 days are you going longer than this? My initial thoughts would be to have your gwian like device just be some simple plastic or bowl like container you store in your pot. Were you planning to have a cup of some form as well or just drink/eat out of one pot? Do you have a blog you will be posting pictures eventually?

Hi TeaTiff,

A four month-long cycle tour sounds like a tale worth telling. Where did you cycle if I might ask?

Gear in cook-set is still being somewhat decided, it will be myself and brother hiking together, so weight/utensils will be shared. I know we have a set that all fits nicely inside of eachother with pots and cup(s). I would be bringing my own cup if one of the ones from the set won’t suffice.

I like the idea of a gaiwan, just a bit concerned that all mine are porcelain. I might try placing inside of the pots and padding it, but that’s more weight, so we’ll see. My lightest gaiwan probably doesn’t weigh more than an ounce or two. I need to get the pot set down and check it..

I think we are looking at doing resupplies every week or so on food, etc. and then every two or three weeks maybe doing a more hearty resupply (I’m not entirely sure what we’d need but I know the Te Araroa goes through a lot of towns).

When did you go on the trail? Did you day hikes, or multi-day and how rigorous did you find the bits that you did? I hope you don’t mind all the questions, not often you find someone who’s actually hiked it. I’d be most appreciative of your answers.

I was hoping to be able to make a few cups/gaiwans/etc. in the morning and then take the (semi)spent leaves and throw them in my liter bottle to sip on throughout the day.

I’m sure we’ll create a blog, it’s a few months out so no blog yet. I’ll post here when it gets up.


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Lala said

Would you be able to buy tea when you re-supply? That way you are only carrying a week or so supply of tea at a time.


No, most likely not. I’ll be carrying higher-end tea from China, and I don’t know of many places in New Zealand that sell those sorts of tea and they would be far between. It’d be nice though

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Wooree Tea said

As a New Zealander, we do have some very fine online tea shops that you could check out.
Each city will have a ParcelPod service run by the postal service where you can send parcels in advance. (cost is $5 for 3 months) For more info:

I have done parts of the Te Araroa walkway, you will have an amazing time. Especially as you will hike all of the “Great Walks” of NZ. Take plenty of water – February is our hottest and driest month.

Here are 2 great online tea shops

Have a great time in NZ

Thank you so much! I’ll check these out (esp. the postal service, that’ll be a great help)

Is it fairly easy to stock up on water at regular intervals on the trail?

Anything I’ve got to see while I’m down there?

Do you have a physical shop, or somewhere I could come and try a bowl of your tea? I would like to, if possible.

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Wooree Tea said

I would highly recommend from the NZ “Great Walks” Tongariro Crossing, Able Tasman Coast Track, Heaphy Trail, Routeburn, Kepler and Milford Track. I have not done them myself, Haha!! – but all my many hiking friends have spoken very highly of each of them.

I have done these:
A bit more touristy but still amazing is Cathedral Cove – Coromandel
Dukes Nose is pretty amazing:
You can get a person to bring you back to the start via a high speed boat – well worth the money ($25)

New Chums Beach in Coromandel is great, but only if you are travelling that way.
The Te Ararora goes via the Te Henga Walkway – one of the best coastal walkways.

All water from the tap is safe in NZ – I would be very carefully about drinking directly from the streams, they may look pristine but some have a bug which will give you diarrhoea. Sad to say.

Basically you can not go wrong in NZ if you are looking for pristine walks.

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