Picking, processing and cupping tea in West Lake

Fresh tea picked by tour group in West Lake.

After the tour group rendezvoused in Shanghai, we got all the sightseeing out of the way with visits to the Bund – the famous waterfront destination along the western bank of the Huangpu River - and dinner at the famous, Xin Tien Di restaurant.

We moved on to Hangzhou the next morning by private coach, a comfortable three-hour drive, after which, we checked into the fives-star JW Marriot Hotel. We visited the famous Lin Yin Temple, had an authentic Hangzhou style dinner then decided to have tea at the incredibly crowded Wupanju Tea House on the West Lake. After drinking four different teas each and enjoying a marathon of tea snacks, we all agreed that we are prepared for today's main event -- tea picking at the West Lake.

Everyone the tour had a lot of fun picking tea for a few hours and then enjoyed a lunch at the farm. After that we went to the factory to make our own tea. Most of the tour members participated and the tea is not half bad! We produced enough teas (with help) to bring home an ounce each! All agreed that no one should lose their day job since they ain't going to make a living picking tea!

Pan frying the tour group's freshly picked tea.

After we thoroughly embarrassed ourselves, we moved on to the cupping room where my friend, Ms. Qian Xiao Ling, and I gave members pointers on cupping and how to determine good tea from bad.

Cupping lesson at the factory.

We retired to the hotel at around 9 pm exhausted but excited and happy.

We are scheduled for an early dragon boat ride around the West Lake tomorrow while enjoying our own tea, (literally produced with our own blood and sweat) while traditional musicians play classical music. After lunch we will visit the China Tea Museum and then pack our bags for Fuzhou.