Chengdu 成都: The “Special Flavor” of Sichuan food

Sichuan spice is no joke. Sichuan peppercorns are known for their mouth-numbing properties, while a plethora of other spicy ingredients can have sweat and tears running down your face. Thankfully, not all Sichuan-style dishes are so volatile, though! For those with lighter palates, Sichuan food can also be sweet, savory and refreshing.

Songyang 松阳: Damunshan Tea Fields and Old Street

Songyang is one of Lishui’s nine counties in Zhejiang and focuses most of its industry in producing high-quality teas. Over 7,500 hectares (about 29 square miles) of the county is devoted solely to the cultivation of tea fields, with more being created every day. A group of friends and I went on an excursion into Zhejiang’s rural countryside in search of these famous tea plantations to experience the hype for ourselves.

It’s Mulberry Season!

Long rows of short, crowded mulberry trees stretched far beneath covered canopies of mesh wire fencing and plastic tarps. We’d driven a bit further out of the main area of town, near the old abandoned west bus station where I’d first taken a trip out with my 8th graders two years ago. The heat was sweltering, and I regretted not putting on more sunscreen as I pulled my hair up out of my eyes. Armed with my little blue basket, I followed my student and his parents into the dense branches of berries…