I have already been sure that I´m a great tea lover and know a lot about this drink when I lived in Russia. But then after I saw tea ceremony in China I have realized that it´s a real art and to learn it’s like to learn a new foreign language – it’s long process and when you think that you are fluent you still have so many things to learn about it.
So, Chinese tea market has nothing in common with any other Chinese market. It’s calm and quite there. No crowds, everything clean and nice.
I visited the tea market for the first time only a day before my departure from China. I don’t know why I was so lazy to do it earlier but anyway… I’m happy that I did it at all =)
It’s hard to find the tea market. Basically, if you don’t know the exact place you won’t find it even if they are in every district. Actually there are signs but all of them (how could?!) in Chinese.
I was there when 3 weeks Chinese New Year has already started, so my friend and I was the certain customers in 3 stores tea market.
So, we went to one shop (oh, that’s so good that my friend speaks Chinese cause otherwise there is not that much you can do), asked for type of tea we were looking for. They shown something but my friend said that tea is of a bad quality, so we moved to another shop. He said that it’s too expensive. So we moved again. In the third shop they shown us a tea which looked fine for my friend. So, I trusted him in tea question and was ready to buy it at once. But he looked at me like “What the hell? Put your many back, we still don’t know if it’s good enough.” So, I was told that actually it’s just a beginning of choosing tea to buy.
Sellers invited us to sit down and started preparations for a tea ceremony. It’s not normal to buy tea in China before you try it. Well, I like this logic!
First, we tried tea for 80 yuan/half of a kilo. Oh God! That was something so special… I realized that I never drank proper tea before. Never! It was awesome. It tasted better than any tea I bought in Russia or Europe before. And ceremony also had nothing in common with those rules of tea-making which we have in Russia.
So, how do they make tea in China?
First, there is hell of devices. It’s not that simple as we do in Europe: a cup and a tea pot. No-no…
So, they boil water and then put a bit in a bow. Then they outpour it immediately. Then they put brew into a bow where hot water was just a second ago. Then they pour hot water again and keep it for a half of a minute. After that they pour tea from the bow to the jar and from the jar to the cups. And then outpour it from the cups =)
Next they pour hot water to the bow with brew again (long process, yeh?) and wait for another half of a minute. Then when this tea is in cups (via the jar) – you drink it. And oh God! it’s so so good! You don’t need any cake or sweets for it. This drink is perfect by itself and doesn’t need any addition.
Then they make tea from the same used brew two more times. That´s it!
Why don´t they just keep the drink in the bow? – brew can’t contact with hot water longer than for minute. Cause it would be bitter otherwise.
They repeated the ceremony with brew for 160 yuan after the first one for 80 yuan. After that I decided to buy both. More expensive tea was way more flavored but then it’s the matter of price…
While one seller packet the tea for me another one made one more tea ceremony with brew for 300 yuan even if it was clear that we won’t buy it.
I didn’t really feel any different between tea for 160 and 300 yuan. But I guess it’s because after two first tea ceremonies I could not really feel any difference in tastes. It’s like when you smell different perfumes in the shop – first two of three you smell well but when it comes to the next one – you can’t really get the smell.
If you haven’t got any accommodation for your next trip booked yet, try it here: Airbnb.
You will get $25 discount for your first booking
and would be able to stay in a nice room or apartment rented from locals and not just in a dorm!