A “must see” tourist attraction for any true, die hard tea lover is definitely The Great Tea Train.
The Great Tea Road has been called the longest land trade route in the history of mankind, beginning at the Great Wall of China and making its way to Europe through Mongolia and Russia. Now a crucial section of the route is planned to become a tourist attraction of the world’s two billion tea drinkers.
At a recent BRICS summit, President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mongolia’s President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj agreed on the new tourist route in a joint co-operation deal which will highlight the tea trade route from Beijing, across Mongolia, to the Siberian cities of Chita, Ulan-Ude and finally Irkutsk, for a total distance of over 2,000 miles.
The plan is for the Great Tea Train to be up and running by next year, taking tea lovers from all over the world on a memorable journey that honors their passion. The thought is for the train to stop at each city for two days on it’s amazing journey through the historical route that tea traders traveled to reach Russia and Europe hundreds of years ago.
“The project is now at the stage of development and approval,” said Trans-Baikal region official Natalia Soldatova. “It is considered by Russian regions and the department of Russian Railways for tours.”
A major point of interest along the route is Naushki, which is about 20 miles from the ancient merchant town of Kyakhta, and the closest rail stop to this intriguing outpost. This was a world famous outpost for trading, as well as other commodities, between China and Russia centuries ago.
Founded by Serb, Sava Raguzinsky, as a trading post with the Qing Empire in 1728, it had close ties to its Chinese counterpart, Maimaicheng, and boasted a robust 19th century tea market.
The two towns even developed their own language, known as Kyakhta Russian-Chinese Pidgin, enabling them to barter goods in trade.
Most of the tea that was traded, during this time, came from Yangloudong, a major center of tea production and trade near today’s Chibi City, Hubei.
By the mid-19th century, tea accounted for 90 percent of imported goods along the trading route, brought by camel caravans crossing Mongolia.
The Trans-Siberian railway put an end to the tea caravans. However, more than a century later, interest is now rekindled in the Great Tea Road. Many of the towns along this historic route feature buildings and museums relating to the bygone era.
With the growing demand for tea and the drive to learn more about its presence in history The Great Tea Train is expected to be well received by tea lovers and history buffs alike.
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