Can’t get enough of your favourite brew? Go on a tour and sample the world of unique tea and coffee
Few things are more relaxing than a nice cup of tea — except maybe a tea holiday. Or perhaps you’re the kind who likes to be stimulated into action on a vacation.
Either way, interest in coffee and tea tourism is growing as hot beverage aficionados get steamed up over the idea of an extended break involving their favourite drink and as an increasing number of destinations from Latin America to the Far East serve up tea and coffee travel packages. Perk up and consult this shortlist of ideas for where to head to next.
East of the sun
Tea was first brewed centuries ago in China, so why not go straight to the source? Southeast Asia specialist Bamboo Travel has a 13-night trip along the country’s east coast that involves meeting tea farmers and of course, plenty of tasting. Beginning in Shanghai, where the British East India Company established its tea business, the tour runs through Hangzhou, home to the famous West Lake and reputed for the quality of its green tea, and then inland into Huangshan, where the Yellow Mountains are home to several of China’s most sought-after teas. Other stops include Wuyishan for a taste of Da Hong Pao, the world’s most expensive tea, and Chozhou in the coastal province of Guangdong for a cup of oolong, before ending in Guangzhou, from where tea clippers departed for the West. “There has been a growing interest in tea tours in recent years, fuelled by a greater awareness of the health benefits of green tea,” says Robin Ball, Director of Bamboo Travel. The Origins of Tea tour, bookable at Bambootravel.co.uk, is priced from £3,495 (Dh16,284) per head on a twin-sharing basis inclusive of international flights, accommodation, local transport and nine meals.
To the heart of Africa
Coffee fanatics from Dubai have been getting all steamed up about Ethiopia for some time now, says Sam McManus, Managing Director of YellowWood Adventures. The adventure company has a group tour into the lush biospheres of Southwestern Kafa planned for early January, to coincide with harvest season and Genna or Ethiopian Christmas. “This tour takes in entirely new areas, where they can meet and interact with the people who work in the industry,” says McManus. “Coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia and tourism around this beverage is growing. There is so much to learn about the different types of coffee, the various processes used, as well as ‘cupping’ or coffee tasting. But a huge part of it is the magical region itself: wild plantations in the shade of jungle trees with unbelievable flora and fauna.”
The nine-day adventure costs £1,499 per person exclusive of flights, but includes accommodation, three meals per day and all transfers and can be booked at Yellowwoodadventures.com.
Across the Imperial mountains
In 1719, the Italian city of Trieste was declared a free port to meet European demand for “the Muslim beverage” that had gripped the Habsburg Empire. To celebrate the 300th anniversary of the first major European coffee craze, Inntravel has concocted a invigorating self-guided rail journey across the Central Europe cities of Vienna, Graz, Ljubljana and Trieste, home to the first coffee houses. The tour follows the coffee trading route through the Habsburg heartlands and schedules walking breaks in each imperial city, with stops for coffee and sachertorte, as well as art and architecture, from the Old Town in Graz to Vienna’s Hofburg Palace. The eight-night tour, bookable at Inntravel.co.uk until October 31, includes bed and breakfast, rail travel between the four cities and walking tour notes, and is priced from £995pp sharing.
Just a quick shot
Can’t stomach the idea of endless cups of coffee or tea? Why not try a taster instead?
Costa Rica: US responsible travel company G Adventures and the non-profit Planterra offer the chance to learn about the coffee process and help 200 small farmers during a tour to the Mi Cafecito coffee community cooperative in Costa Rica’s earthquake-hit area of San Miguel de Sarapiqui. The Gadventures.com visit is part of an eight-day G Adventures Costa Rica Quest Tour which begins at $979 (Dh3,595).
Malaysia: Catch a sunrise and trek to a tea lesson at the Boh Tea plantation in the Cameron Highlands outside Kuala Lumpur with tour operator Civitatis. Afterwards, relax in a rose garden, pick strawberries, go butterfly watching and try using a blowpipe at an indigenous village. The 12-hour tour, which can be booked at Civitatis.com, is priced from £84.30 per head and includes food and drink, transport and guides’ fees.
India: Take a step back in time to the coffee and spice plantations of the early 20th century in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, where you can interact with planters, go bird watching or quite literally, step into the clouds. Ama Plantation Trails, a subsidiary of the Indian Hotels Group, now repurposed several former bungalows built for Tata Coffee executives. Sited around Chikmaglur and Kodaga, these sprawling mountain-top properties can be booked at Amaplantationtrails.com from around Rs7,000 per night.
UK: Heading to London over the summer? Learn how to whip up an elaborate afternoon tea with Edd Kimber, the author of The Boy Who Bakes (Kyle Books). Over the course of a day at cooking school Leiths, the Great British Bake Off winner will teach recipes such as strawberry shortcakes, passionfruit biscuits (pictured), pistachio and raspberry financiers, and chocolate-dipped madeleines. “Afternoon tea is definitely growing in popularity especially with international visitors,” says Edd Kimber. “It is seen as quintessentially British and nowhere more so than in London.” Bookable at Leiths.com, it’ll set you back £155, but all materials, as well as lunch and a beverage are included.