There are so many beautiful things to buy in China that it’s often difficult to figure out where to start. Silk clothing, tea sets, chopsticks and fans are regularly sought out by tourists, but how about hunting down something a little more original? Hubei has a lengthy history and a rich cultural tradition, so before you hit the shops, check out our guide to what’s out there.
It’s challenging to think of a more appropriate souvenir from China than Chinese tea. Obviously, where you are in the country will affect the type of fresh, locally sourced tea available to you. If you are in Hubei, then you can count on finding a selection of fresh, citrusy green blends that are native to the area. One to watch out for is Jade Cloud tea. Its mellow and refreshing aroma has hints of chestnut and bluegrass and promises to remind you of your trip for days to come.
Hubei has been dubbed “The Hometown of Turquoise” owing to the fact that the province is the foremost producer of turquoise in China. The rare, blue-green stone is adored worldwide due to its monetary value and its stark, eye-catching colour. Often the stone is crafted into items of jewellery, but if you want something a little different, then you can also find turquoise crafted into small sculptures and other trinkets. The best place to find turquoise in Hubei is in the Yunyang area of the province where it is mined.
One of Hubei’s oldest crafts is the production of silk flowers. Dating back to the Tang Dynasty, these traditional pieces were commonly worn as accessories due to their delicate beauty and intricate craftsmanship. Luckily, these skills have been nurtured and passed down through generations, meaning that these accessories are still very much available today. With hundreds of variations, including peony, rose, Chinese rose, chrysanthemum and Dahlia, your outfit need never look tired again.
Where better to purchase literature about Hubei, than in Hubei itself. The Librarie Déjà Vu on Tan Hua Lin Street is chock-a-block with artsy books about the city. Admittedly, the English-language options are comparatively small, but if you have commit to your search, you may end up learning some interesting facts about Wuhan or Hubei Province that you would otherwise never have come across. If you can’t find what you’re looking for here, then the 403 International Art Center also boasts a wealth of interesting books.
This traditional local delicacy seems a little strange at first. Handmade by shop owners in Wuhan’s Tan Hua Lin walking street, you can’t get more local than this. At first glance, it looks a little like a chocolate brownie, but on closer examination, with a little help from the proprietor, it turns out it’s a healthy sugar-based tea. There are a range of flavours to choose from, each flavour being a different type of Chinese flower tea. Simply pop the cube in hot water, wait a few minutes and you’re good to go.
Instead of buying a ready-made pot, how about making your own? There is nothing more thoughtful or satisfying than giving a souvenir which has a real story behind it, even if it doesn’t look as good as the professionally made ones. If you fancy yourself a craftsperson, then head down to Wuhan’s arty district near Tan Hua Lin walking street and visit this DIY pottery store. Use the owner’s examples for inspiration, roll up your sleeves, and get spinning. You can be assured that no matter the outcome, you won’t find a more original gift.
If you want to remember every last detail of your trip to Hubei, there’s no better way to do this than with a souvenir map. However, before you rip a page from the A-Z, or print a screen shot from Google Earth, maybe search for something with a little more aesthetic value. Wuhan’s crafty neighbourhood, Tan Hua Lin, is the perfect place for this. The street’s many boutiques have a vast selection of intricately designed, hand-drawn city and street maps that promise to help you remember your trip, and also look good on the wall.
Of China’s 55 ethnic minority groups, the Tujia people have the most established presence in Hubei province. They can be found living in rural, autonomous regions and lead a very different life from what you see in China’s big cities. Bamboo baskets are used by the Tujia people as backpacks, but they are also intricately woven and make for great souvenirs. As an added claim to authenticity, bamboo-weaving is believed to have been a traditional folk art that originated in the Qianjiang region of Hubei Province.
If none of the aforementioned souvenirs are calling out to you, or maybe you’ve already overpacked your luggage and you’re running low on funds, then fear not, there is always a plan B. Wherever you go in the world, you can always rely on the fact that there will be an appropriately designed fridge magnet to commemorate your trip. Head to any tourist attraction, seek out your nearest shop, and your souvenir shopping will be done in no time.