Sure, Shanghai is a great city. But after going up the Jin Mao Tower for the fourth time, eating at Wujiang Lu for the tenth time (this week), and seeing, breathing, and hearing nothing but Expo all day, every day, a little bit of nature is more than appreciated. After searching around for day-trip recommendations, we finally decided on the tea mountains of Hangzhou, and we weren’t disappointed.
Longjing Tea Mountain (龙井茶山/龙井茶园), located just outside of nearby Hangzhou, is the home of one of China’s most famous varieties of tea, Longjing Tea (龙井茶). Historically known as a tea of the emperors, this tea is often referred to as China’s national drink (and for good reason). Any tea-lover should consider a trip to Longjing a must.
Best of all, the area is easily accessible and can be covered in just one day.
Getting to the tea fields costs about 60~120 RMB round-trip, depending on what mode of transportation you take to get there. Trains and buses run early and often to Hangzhou, and tickets cost anywhere from 30-60 RMB one-way. We chose the 7:30 AM D-class train, which cost 52 RMB and got us to Hangzhou at 9 AM.
From the train station, taxis can go to the mountain for about 50-60 RMB. However, public buses are available for anyone looking to save a few RMB. First, take the K7 bus for roughly 12 stops and transfer at any one of the few stops where the K27 and Y3 buses stop. Take either of these buses for roughly 6 stops, and get off at the Longjing Tea Mountain stop (龙井茶山, Long Jing Cha Shan). (note: directions are from the Hangzhou train station, not Hangzhou East)
After arriving at the Longjing area, there are several ways to proceed. One option is to go up through the gate and hike up past the tourist village, where there is plenty of wilderness and pagodas, as well as China’s largest teapot. Hike up all the way to be treated to beautiful views of the valley. We came back down after hiking up about 2/3 of the way and proceeded to go into the actual village of Longjing.
The people here are generally friendly, even if it is because most of them want to sell their tea. However, we suggest that anyone already set on spending the 200+ RMB for take-home tea take up the shopkeepers’ offers – they will usually offer your group free cups of tea as well as some conversation. For those who would rather just have their one cup and leave, there are several shops where you can buy a cup for anywhere from 15 RMB to 200 RMB. We spent 30 RMB/cup for our tea, and we were thrilled with the quality. The tea is sweeter than most green teas, but still has a perfect amount of bitter aftertaste that lingers in your mouth for (literally) minutes after drinking.
After finishing our tea, we continued down the road and climbed up the mountain. The climb was long, with plenty of stairs, so if you’re not much for hiking, it’s better to just stay in the village. However, upon reaching the top, we were treated to sweeping views of the numerous tea fields below.
The Y3 and K27 bus can be taken the same way down the mountain – however, the buses stop running around 9:30 PM, so make sure to head back before then.
Overall, the tea mountains made an excellent (and perfectly feasible) day-trip. Anyone looking for a quick one-day weekend trip can certainly add Longjing to their must-see list.
Photos by Ben Overton