Top Destinations for Tea Tourism
TOP DESTINATIONS FOR TEA TOURISM
Jan 18, 2017 | 2 |
Top Destinations for Tea Tourism
Travel and tea go hand in hand. Yes, there are certainly some fun spots to sip your cup of favorite beverage right down the street, but why not add a bit of adventurism and discover the best tea tourism destinations? Do you feel like flying away to some hot exotic location? Or would you rather explore the hidden tea spots of old Europe? Maybe you are more of a traditional type when it comes to tea and think the Orient is the place to be?
Read our guide with 18 amazing top destinations for tea tourism, and after all your planning, researching, packing and negotiating the crowded airport, you will be able to relax with the authentic and good cup of tea or a tea cocktail. (Preferably with some scones or cakes by side).
Top Destinations for Tea Tourism – Loose Leaf Club
NEVER ENDING TEA STORY OF ASIA
When it comes to Asia, there are thousands of fantastic places to explore. You might still find yourself lost finding tea places among colorful bustling streets and unfamiliar language. Japan, China, Sri Lanka and India may be the most well-known tea producing areas, but did you know that countries like Indonesia and Vietnam can compete with them in terms of tea production? If you don’t plan your trip wisely, you just might end up buying tea from the supermarket (or even worse – airport), instead of fully immersing yourself in wonderful tea culture of each Asian country
Japanese Matcha Tea Time
Japan has a lot to offer to every tea fanatic. Obubu tea farm in Wazuka near Kyoto is one of the most tea lover friendly farms to visit. This small town of around five thousand people is the home of at least 300 tea growing families. If you have a few months to spare, you can apply for the tea internship and enjoy your stay among tea bushes for up to three months. Tea tours, tea classes and tea picking might just be the best thing you will try this year. Prepare for a lot of fun and zen moments surrounded by beautiful scenery of Japan’s cradle of tea. If you happen to be there in spring, do not miss the opportunity to attend geisha dance festival Miyako Odori. This is one of the few left opportunities to be served traditional matcha and wagashi sweets by sophisticated and mysterious Japanese women of art.
Chinese Tea CeremonyMainland China has so many different types of teas that any attempts of classification would be in vain. This tea-heaven has much to offer – from numerous tea tours in Yunnan, Fujian or Zhejiang, to huge tea markets and tea houses. If you have never visited a Chinese tea market, you should definitely put it on your list. Maliandao in Beijing, Jinan tea wholesale market in Shandong Province or Yunnan tea wholesale market in Kunming will surprise you with hundreds of shops – selling tea and tea ware only. It would take days to enter all of them them, so get ready for some serious tea house hopping. You are free to enter any of shops, take a sip of free tea and discuss hot tea topics with the owner. This unique Chinese custom cannot be experienced anywhere else. Free Chinese tea ceremony? Why not. But do buy some tea to show gratitude.
Taiwan Tea HarvestTaiwan’s high mountains are home of the world’s best semiball-rolled style oolong teas. There are two things we suggest that you do in Taiwan if you are a true tea lover. Visit Da Yu Ling area when you still have the chance as farms have been closing up rapidly. Soon we might witness the disappearance of most prized Taiwanese high mountain teas. To enjoy the breathtaking view from one of Da Yu Ling oolong farms you will need to walk a lot, so be ready to get in your best shape. Wu wo ceremony is another tea event to attend in Taiwan. Authentic Taiwanese tea ceremony is different from those in Japan or China. Translated as without oneself, tea serves as a medium for establishing connection, understanding and acceptance between all attendees. Rules are simple, you prepare tea for others, other prepare tea for you.
If you wish to explore the Indian world of tea farther than Darjeeling and Assam, why not visit beautiful Kerala’s tea plantations in the south of India and town Munnar (check out this discovery tour). This small colorful paradise near Sri Lanka will satisfy all your needs for warm climate and breathtaking landscape. But beware, taking a tea tour might seriously test your visual abilities – prepare for as much beautiful green scenery as you could possibly imagine. Don’t forget to visit a Tea Museum while there, in charge of keeping Munnar’s tea legacy alive.
Munnar Tea Plantation
Who hasn’t thought of visiting island Java in Indonesia at least once in their lives? Numerous tea tours are offered all across Indonesia. High tea production in Java is the main reason for its stable economy. Stunning scenery, green valleys, hot springs in highlands of island and tea plantations, are more than enough to forget any excuse and pack your bags.
TROPIC PARADISES FOR TEA LOVERS
When it is time to visit the islands, Barbados conjures up images of sandy beaches and opulent accommodations. What you probably didn’t know is that on Barbados you can find one of the finest afternoon tea houses in the tropics. The House by Elegant Hotels serves a delightfully traditional display of delicious sweet and savoury English treats like scones, finger sandwiches, clotted cream and sweet pastries in its daily afternoon tea service. Don’t want to stay at a hotel and prefer your own house? Why not check out this hip guesthouse from a new alternative to Airbnb called Innclusive.
Becky’s By The Sea Barbados Beach
Do you really need an excuse to visit Hawaii? Well, if you are on the hunt for a new place for afternoon tea and want to combine it with a tropical vacation without a horrendous plane flight, how about the quintessential Hawaii afternoon tea experience celebrated at The Halekulani. Tea is enjoyed in the Veranda room – think of high ceilings, bamboo fans, and soft white curtains — with the traditional three courses, brought out one by one. Beginning with tea sandwiches and moving on to round of mini currant scones served with local preserves, lemon curd and Devonshire cream, your tea feast will end with a selection of melt-in-your-mouth delicacies on the dessert tray. The Halekulani offers accommodations also, so you can literary jump from the bed and get into perfect tea experience.
If you wish to follow Trip Advisor’s recommendations, you will appreciate Honolulu’s ONLY full-service lifestyle hotel, The Modern Honolulu. It offers a contemporary luxury experience. The highest rated hotel in our class in Honolulu, Forbes Travel Guide says, “The Modern Honolulu lives up to its name: it’s modern without being trendy, it’s hip without being stuffy. This sleek hotel is perfect for the urban traveler who tends to mix business with pleasure.” (And who loves a good cup of tea.)
Reunion Island might be the last place on earth you thought of then thinking of top destinations for tea tourism. Well, let us surprise you. This small island in Indian ocean has a tea production history. Grand Coude village could be the perfect place for tea lovers that still have a child in them. Somewhere between visiting active volcanoes and magical scuba diving, we recommend one more fun activity – visiting one hectare tea tree labyrinth where you can learn all about history of tea production on Reunion Island. Don’t forget to take a sip of authentic white tea after.
OLD EUROPE AND NEW TEAS
Tea Time CakesEveryone knows that England is the place to be when it comes to Europe. British tea at 5 o’clock is unavoidable tea event and there are numerous hotels and places that offer tea relaxation while enjoying perfectly designed scones and cakes, in mostly authentic and formal surroundings. Tea and Cake London by Zena Alkayat gives an overview of nearly 80 tea rooms for a perfect tea visit to London. Book a flight, take a book, and enjoy of hidden places of British tea drinking culture.
The fact that Europe was never really a place of tea production makes it even more exotic as a top destination for a tea tourism. Did you know that Scotland has a lot to offer in terms of tea production? In the picturesque high lands of Scottish Perthshire, there is the ultimate European spot for all tea lovers. Windy Hollow Farm recently planted its first Camellia sinesnsis and offer a unique tour to their plantation. They are the first Scottish Tea Farm growing tea organically and from seed and even use the natural spring water flowing from deep in the ground to water their tea plants. They are just about to do their first harvest in spring, so book your tickets on time to enjoy beautiful scenery of Scotland while sipping Scotland’s first tea in history.
Germany has its own tea garden as well. Tschanara in Bergischer Highlands, the only German tea garden, is run by Wolfgang Bucher and his wife Haeng ok Kim. Their passion started with Korean teas and soon resulted in unique German green, oolong and black tea (with a subtle donuts scent and flavor). They are the only two people in charge of managing their tea garden. Keep this fact in mind if you ever visit Cologne.
European oldest tea plantation is located on S. Miguel, Azores. Gorreana Tea Plantation produces green and black tea for more than 130 years, from seed brought from – Brazil. Can you imagine how it would feel like to walk on tea fields surrounded by beautiful blue sea, and take a sip of tea in stone-walled tea room? You don’t have to imagine it if you book a flight.
Azores Gorreana Tea Factory
MINT TEA EXPLORATION
How about Morocco? Tea is a man’s domain in this country and usually prepared and served by the man in the family. Their customary tea is a mint tea. It’s so important to their culture that is jokingly referred to as Berber whiskey. You might be hanging out at a local cafe and see the locals sipping mint tea while debating the latest news stories. Many popular guesthouses will welcome you with a hot mug of tea when you arrive. It is customary that they prepare several glasses of mint tea to honor your visit. It is customary to drink at least three glasses before or after a meal. If you want to participate in a Moroccan Tea Ceremony on a Morocco Private Tour, check out the Morocco Private Tours Travel Exploration company.
Tunisia’s most popular tea is mint tea as well – but with one small addition – pine nuts. Served at every corner, just as Moroccan mint tea, it is the important part of any social gatherings. Desert, camels, amazingly stunning oasis and a cup of authentic tea – you get the picture.
NORTH AMERICA AND TEA
Not until long ago, tea production in North America was not an everyday fact. Until recently, the only American tea plantation was The Charleston Tea Plantation in South Carolina. It still offers free tours to all interested tea drinkers with free sandwiches among oak trees. We already mentioned Hawaii in our tropical destination section, and it’s definitely worth visiting, not only for tropical climate and unforgettable relaxing holiday, but it’s the state with most tea gardens in North America. Did you know that tea farms can be found in 15 different states – including New York!
Even the cold Canada has its own tea farm. Simply called Tea Farm, this tea spot is located in British Vancouver. Tea production is still in experimental phase there, which makes it even more interesting, as you can witness the attempts of producing unique Canadian tea for the first time in history.
AUSTRALIA’S AND NEW ZEALAND’S LONG TEA HISTORY
Hobbit, sheep and cool weather are the first images to appear upon mentioning New Zealand. Make space for one more, as New Zealand’s efforts in producing tea are more than serious. Zealong Tea Plantation might not be the closest plantation in the world, but it certainly is worth visiting.
Australian tea story began a long time ago, on April Fool’s day, however it’s far from a joke. With extremely long history, the Nerada Tea Plantation is the place to go. Visit the factory, enjoy the Devonshire tea feast and mark one more country on your tea places-to-visit map. Other interesting stop in clear and harmonious Australian landscape is the only Australian Tea Estate Madura.
Madura Tea EstateWHICH OF THESE TOP DESTINATIONS FOR TEA TOURISM TO VISIT?
We gave you enough suggestions to travel for a year, from tea tours to tea markets, internships or classes, covering all from a simple tea garden to a real tea estate, enjoying tea at tropical tea room or luxury hotel. Decision is up to you. Tea and geishas, tea and sharks, tea and high mountains, tea and sheep, tea and tropical fish, tea and oak trees, tea and oasis, tea and volcanoes … Travel and tea really go hand in hand. So, slip into that bathing suit or throw on warm jumpers, put on the kettle and start planning your next tea vacation with these cool travel locations.
Great post, thanks for sharing. The world of tea really does spread to the four corners of the planet.
Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for reaching out!
If I were going on a strictly tea-themed vacation I’d head to Wuyishan, China, but my wife isn’t into such things so I’ve not made it there yet. I live in Thailand now, and they grow tea here, but it’s fair to leave it off the list since the teas aren’t quite on the level of most other major producers (in my opinion).
Indonesia is an awesome place to visit; the people are so nice, the country is modern enough to be comfortable but not ruined by development—it was integrated through the Dutch history there—and Java is crowded with active volcanoes, and you can arrange for a driver for not so much then walk up in and have a look. From the little I’ve seen, and more I’ve heard, West Java has better plantations, more new-style production, versus old Dutch government ran plantation focus in the East. The latter are surely as nice to see (I checked out Wonosari there; seemed fine) but the tea range of styles isn’t the same. Vietnam would be nice too but that part about Indonesia being mid-level developed and comfortable would likely not apply; one would have to be a bit more flexible and do more research to venture outside of the most developed city and resort areas.
Talking to people producing the teas in places like all of those isn’t as difficult as you might think. I helped found and admin a Facebook International-themed tea group with plenty of members working in all those places, and a good number in Nepal and Myanmar, getting out there a bit: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1647370545538088/
Wow, John! You provide a lot of good information! I have visited Thailand and it is one of my favorite travel destinations, with or without tea! What city do you call home? I look forward to checking out your tea group on Facebook! Thanks for sharing the link!
On a side note – does anyone know any interesting tea-related destinations on the Big Island of Hawaii? I’m headed there this April.
This group is for US based tea growers, not exactly a guide to what you are asking about, but it might work to page around it and get a feel for people in it related to Hawaii:
My impression is there aren’t that many people growing tea in Hawaii in one sense, major producers, but a good number in another, related to a count of everyone making some amount of tea. It might be possible to visit a half dozen places, depending on how open places growing tea are to visitors, which I wouldn’t know of. It would be nothing like visiting a Darjeeling plantation, with most likely just not set up for it. I lived in Hawaii awhile back—a decade ago—but I’ve taken up tea since, so it didn’t come up in visits there (from Oahu, where I lived).