Originally posted August 30, 2014
To celebrate the announcement of another Ancient Tea Horse Road journey with Jeff Fuchs during November 2020, we’re sharing one of our favorite posts of WildChina Explorer and Expert Jeff Fuchs musing on the importance of the Ancient Tea Horse Caravan Road, and why we should all bump it up on our travel list.
The Ancient Tea Horse Caravan Road has long held the attention of explorers and vagabonds alike for the fact that it represents one of the globe’s great and daunting adventures. It is a cultural odyssey as much as a physically demanding pathway that brought tea, salt, horses, and all manner of goods from the fringes of the old dynastical empires into and onto the Tibetan Plateau. Pre-dating the Silk Road, the Tea Horse Caravan Road and its meandering pathways through indigenous zones, ancient tea forests, and stunning geographies offer up a deeper look into the very historical fabric of southwest China, Tibet, and beyond.
Across snow passes and over some of the planet’s great waterways, the route takes in three dozen cultures and two dozen languages…all with their own histories with tea and the great trade route.
Tea figured greatly into this ‘highway through the sky’ as it was – and to some extent remains – one of the great panaceas and commodities of time. Tea was more a fuel and medicine to the ancient tribes and its safe transport was one of the great vitals of the trade world.
Yunnan tea farm | Photo by Jeff Fuchs
This WildChina journey along the Ancient Tea Horse Caravan Road seeks to dig into and take the journey back to its roots. Authentic touches of exploration off the beaten path, serious tea-highs from some of the planet’s purest ancient tree teas, and homestays that are entirely integral with delving deeper into a culture and land are on offer. Walking through some of the oldest tea forests on the planet, and then sampling them in a cup bind the leaf to its drinker and, by extension, to any that partake in a cup.
The journey from field to cup begins | Photo by Jeff Fuchs
We’ve enhanced sections to take you deeper still into Yunnan’s diversity and created more of a full-on adventure with daily tea samplings, from fresh bitter harvests to locally prepared specialties (including the Tibetan’s famed and pungent butter tea) from local regions.
I’m delighted that this journey has continued and been intensified to add a more authentic feel that reflects life and travel upon the Tea Horse Caravan Road. In traveling upon this most ancient of trade routes, it is important to retain some of the original feel of travel, life, and interaction for our guests.
It is vital that such a journey keep its vitality and spontaneity. It is only through this kind of travel and attention to detail that a route’s history, legend, and truths can remain intact.
If Jeff’s descriptions of tea got your heart beating a little faster, check out the itinerary for Jeff’s trip, Traversing the Ancient Tea Horse Road, here. If you want to read more about Jeff and his travels, check out his blog here. And if you have any questions, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org