Hangzhou is the provincial capital and largest city of the Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. This city is not only famous for the natural beauty of the the West Lake and many historic and cultural landmarks including the Leifeng Pagoda where you can enjoy an amazing sunset view over the lake, the six harmony Pagoda, Ling Yin Temple but also it´s home to the China Tea Museum and the Longjing Village, one of the birthplaces to Chinese Green Tea. Also very representative of the local Tea culture are the Teahouses that line West Lake and where you see all the locals playing cards and drinking Green Tea.
If you visit Hangzhou and the Longjing village between the end of March and mid May you get the first harvesting season. The Tea leaves are picked from late March to early May, when the new leaves appear. Tea cultivation is a labor intensive business, as all picking is done by hand so that the young leaves are not damaged.
The National Tea Musem, the only one in China with the Tea theme, is surronded by a Tea plantation and is comprised by four buildings where you can learn about the history of Tea, the growing and cultivation process, properties of Tea, the different kinds of Tea (they show you 300 kinds of Tea including the six basic types and some reprocessed and scented varities), Tea sets and the impact of Tea in the Chinese Culture.
To get there from Shanghai you need to take the Train from the Shanghai Hongqiao railway station to Hangzhou Railway Station. The bullet G trains take around 45 minutes. From Hangzhou railway station you can take the bus n. 27 or Y3 or alternatively get a cab however make sure that you either have a map where you can point on where you want to go or go with someone local as I had to leave the first taxi due to communication problems. Despite my best efforts and gestures he could´t understand where I wanted to go.
Some tips that I learned from my experience: Don´t go on sundays as it is a very popular destination for locals so the buses get completely packed, taxis are all taken and there is a lot of traffic. I had to walk to a hotel and request a car from there. Also, don´t buy Tea from the street vendors around the lake as this is usually the lowest grade quality so if you want to make sure you get good quality Tea you can either try and go to a farm or to the Longjing town. A famous shop is number 216 Longjing Road. Anyway, always make sure that you try the Tea that you buy. I have tried several different varities of Longjing Tea and they the quality vary substantially and all have different characteristics.
Happy Tea Break.