Taking Tea in the Wild

Navigating the Madawaska River

I embarked on a thrilling canoeing adventure on the Madawaska River for Canada Day and the Fourth of July this summer. The river was wild and untamed, and our canoeing group was eager to conquer its rapids. Little did I know that the river had other plans for us.

As my canoeing partner and I navigated the challenging waters with the group, the river seemed to be playing mischievous games with our canoes. In most rapids, we would feel triumphant, conquering them with skill and teamwork or fumbling through primarily dry. But as we attempted the section called Raquette, we found ourselves at the final two-and-a-half-foot ledge where, in the blink of an eye, the river struck back, swamping the canoe, and we found ourselves submerged in its cold embrace.

It was an exhilarating and humbling experience being roped to safety by our comrades on shore as our canoe slowly drifted away. The river chewed us up and spit us out, testing our resilience and determination. Despite this setback, we couldn’t help but laugh and cherish the adventure.

With the camping season in full swing, many of us eagerly prepare for our next outdoor adventure. Whether you’re into car camping, hiking, backcountry camping, or canoe camping, one thing you will not want to leave behind is your favorite tea.

Below are five teas perfect for camping, considering their portability, ruggedness, flavor, and functionality. So, grab a teacup, and let’s dive into the wonderful world of camping teas!


Five Teas to Enjoy in the Wild

Warming November with Shu Pu’er

Shu Pu’er Puck 

That evening, as the sun began to set and the temperature dropped, I reached for my trusty Shu Pu’er Puck. The fragrant steam rising from the mug offered much-needed comfort and warmth. As I took the first sip, I felt the tea enveloping my senses, calming my nerves, and soothing my embattled ego.

The magical brew seemed to mend my tired body and soul, reminding me that even in the face of the unpredictable river, I was still part of something grand and awe-inspiring. The rich earthy notes of the Shu Pu’er connected me to the natural world around me, and the evening breeze carried away the day’s worries.

Gathered around the campfire, my canoeing companions and I recounted our adventures and toasted to the indomitable spirit of nature. The Shu Pu’er became a symbol of resilience and a balm for our adventurous souls.

Morning tea in the woods
Sheng Pu’er Tou Cha

Sheng Pu’er Puck

This fantastic little puck of tea is delicious and incredibly convenient for camping. I recall brewing this tea very early in the morning on the Noire River. I woke before my fellow campers and decided to brew a Sheng Pu’er Mini-Tuo, perfect for a morning pick-me-up. That early in the morning, a pre-portioned puck is a real advantage as my brain hasn’t started working, and it allows for easy preparation in my travel gaiwan. I still remember extinguishing the hissing jet boil and pouring the hot water, feeling the warmth on my skin contrasting the crisp morning air. This tea has a tangy, fresh aroma that mingles with hints of barnyard, creating an exquisite sensory experience. The dense little puck is also an incredibly rugged format, ensuring that it can withstand camping adventures, a definite go-to for my summer camping trips. One of the most intriguing aspects of Sheng Pu’er is its cooling effect, making it a refreshing choice even on hot and humid days. Don’t be surprised if you love this tea as a go-to for summer camping trips.


Riverside tea break on the water
Tian Jian

Tian Jian 

Tian Jian, dubbed the love child of Lapsang Souchong and Shu Pu’er by a dear friend, stands out as a distinctive dark tea deserving of a place in your camping tea ensemble. Envision relishes a cup of smoky, malty Tian Jian while witnessing the sun’s descent over the campsite and being serenaded by the haunting calls of loons out on the river. This tea not only pairs excellently with s’mores but can also endure boiling if you seek to prolong your tea-infused moments long into the starry night. It makes for an ideal companion, enhancing the charm of your camping escapades.

Zhen Lu brewing gong fu at the summit

Bai Ya Qi Lan 

Bai Ya Qi Lan is a tea that effortlessly blends convenience with exceptional flavor. Its tightly rolled tea pearls are unfazed by a toss into a Ziploc bag or being bumped around in a roomier container, ensuring hassle-free transport in your backpack or food barrel. Start your day on a high note with this versatile brew, boasting a remarkable buttery, croissant-like essence that beautifully complements an otherwise lackluster, rehydrated camp breakfast. Whether sipping it on-the-fly from your Nalgene or savoring a leisurely brewing ritual with a portable Gongfu tea set, Bai Ya Qi Lan elevates your camping escapade with a touch of indulgent luxury.





Minimalist utensils
Shou Mei at camp
Shou Mei at camp

Shou Mei Cake 

Lastly, let’s not forget the tranquil and soothing Shou Mei Cake – a white tea tailored for unwinding after a full day of outdoor adventures. Its calming attributes provide a serene respite, allowing you to unravel and embrace nature’s splendor. As you indulge in this delicate brew, you’ll discover notes of sweet asparagus that gently dance on your palate, evoking the freshness of the wilderness. Beyond its restorative essence, this white tea bestows a subtle energy boost, making it the perfect choice for a revitalizing after-lunch sip.

Tea break on the trail

Imagine yourself unwrapping the hardy-pressed form of the Shou Mei Cake, steeping it in your travel teapot, and savoring the moments as the flavors unfold. An almost buttery essence mingled with hints of peach lingering in each sip, creating a harmonious fusion of indulgence and tranquility. The Shou Mei Cake’s remarkable versatility, ability to offer relaxation, and a rejuvenating lift solidify its position as an indispensable addition to the camping tea shortlist.

No matter how you sip your tea, hot or cold, Gongfu or from a Nalgene, it’s pretty clear that camping and tea make a perfect pair. With these top five teas in your backpack, you’ll have a range of flavors and functionalities to suit any camping occasion. Of course, the preference for specific teas will vary from camper to camper, so be sure to explore and find what works best for you. Whether you’re sipping Sheng Pu’er to cool down on a hot day, enjoying Bai Ya Qi Lan with your rehydrated breakfast, or soothing a bruised ego with a warm cup of Shu Pu’er, each tea offers its unique charm and adds to the joy of camping. So, next time you venture into the wilderness, don’t forget to pack your favorite teas and elevate your camping experience with a comforting cup of nature’s finest brews.

Happy camping, and keep steeping!

Zhen Lu and Phil Rushworth sipping tea in the forest
ZhenTea co-founders Zhen Lu and Phil Rushworth sipping tea in the forest.


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