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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

All the Tea in China

I love tea. Black tea, green tea, red tea, rose tea, jasmine tea, lavendar tea, mint tea, orange spice tea, chamomile tea... You get the idea. So when I first moved to China, I was excited about being able to sample tea from its land of origin.

Surprisingly, I haven't been able to find much more than the standard green tea or black tea in the shops around Shanghai, & most of that is Lipton. I've started to question my own taste for tea. Maybe real tea drinkers don't get entwined in all that froo-froo floral fruity foolishness. Maybe real tea drinkers just drink tea.

A couple of months ago, I took a short trip to Hangzhou, a town about two hours by train from Shanghai, where I visited the National Tea Museum, which is also a tea growing plantation. The museum complex is surrounded by acres of tea plants, which are actually more like tea bushes.

They had a pretty interesting exhibit there chronicling the history of tea, & at the end of the tour, they offered a free tea tasting.

Wow. Now this was tea. They carefully poured out four types of really good tea, giving us time to savor each of them. I was happy to finally locate good tea in China, but found their prices prohibitive, so I only bought a small sampling to take back to Shanghai with me.

The other day, I came across this guy, a fellow tea drinker, who has taken on the project of trying more than 85 different Chinese teas. He's posting his reviews of each variety on his blog, along with some cool photos. Perhaps his project will inspire me to conduct my own mini-sampling of the loose leaf teas that I see in the small shops that line the back streets of Nanjing Road.


Steve Skinner said...

Thanks for the link to the tea museum; great stuff.

Nancy Lewis said...

Maybe you'll get a chance to go there one day, Steve :)