The Tea Harvest
It is the middle of the tea harvest season and last weekend we went to Hangzhou to visit the tea fields. The tea grown in Hangzhou is the famous 龙井茶 longjing cha (literally “dragon well tea”), and even if you are not specially interested in tea you can go and have a look at the breathtaking views. We went to a village called 梅家坞 Meijiawu because we were afraid Longjing village would be too crowded, as it is the most famous one given that it has the same name as the tea. Well, we also wanted to go and check Longjing village but we couldn’t because the area was car-limited (Hangzhou limits the number of cars circulating; on Sunday cars with plates ending in even number could not get inside the Longjing area), so our only impression is of the area around Meijiawu. What amazed me the most is that this area is very close to Hangzhou. From a very busy road parallel to the river you make a turn, go straight for 3 or 4 km and suddenly find yourself surrounded by lush greenery. You can park on the side of the road and get in the middle of the plantations. You can also follow the paved paths that will take you deeper and deeper into the mountains. You won’t find anyone except the villagers that are picking tea leaves. The area is popular with tour groups but it seems they only go to the restaurants and tea houses, so you will have nature all for yourself. Oh, the silence! We could hear the lizards running under the dry leaves as we walked by. Meijiawu is a quaint little village where everybody is in the tea business. All the houses had machines and woks to toast the tea leaves.
The villagers were very friendly. We were greeted but politely, not in the yelling-hallo-in-your-face way.
After climbing the hill at the top of Meijiawu we sit in someone’s home. They had a second floor with three or four tables and that acted as a teahouse. In the ground floor they had the toasting leaves machines. We sipped the burning liquid, munched on peanuts and macadamia nuts and chatted for a good couple of hours.
How to get there: Meijiawu is very close to Hangzhou. From the train station, a taxi there should be around 70 RMB. It is better if you have your own car so you can move around freely, but if not you can also use the public buses that go up and down the main road. There are many guesthouses and hotels in the area, with prices ranging from 80 to several thousand RMB.