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Buying Chinese Tea (Day 3)

Posted by Kimiko URIU on September 03, 2010 (0 Comments)

I had the fortunate experience that a local person who's parents are also tea farmers brought me around the tea market in Beijing, so he was familiar with what places to go to and the prices that were reasonable. 

It was unforgettable to go up the escalators of the building and realising the whole building was for tea and tea accessories.

This department store was surely the size of a Macy's or Peek & Cloppenburg, but only filled with tea! What was even more amazing was that the whole street was like this!


So we spent the day tasting pu-erh, oolong and green teas. If you are planning on buying some teas for your business or pleasure then it is necessary to plan a couple of hours at the tea market. Each vender expects you to sit down with them, try a couple of flushes and chat. It was also fun watching them make the teas, since each wholesaler had their own way of brewing the tea.

Simple steps to enhance your tea experience immediately:

1) For chinese teas do not use the first brew. Wash the tea once before serving it.

2) Look at the tealeaves and a general rule is the less broken they are the better quality they are.

3) Heat the tea cups and tea pot before brewing the tea. They explained that they do this so that the temperature was evenly spread. 

4) Then if you try and slurp the tea in a similar way you would do at a wine tasting (this is not China specific, but is done throughout the world in order to taste the teas) then by sucking more air into your mouth and through the tea you activate the flavours more. In a professional tasting you spit out the tea after each sip, but you don't do that in these shops. You actually drink the tea and enjoy.  

5) They usually have melon seeds (which you open in half with your teeth and eat the middle bit) nearby so that you can neutralise your mouth and taste a new tea. This has a similar function to bread in between different wines.

I will go into more detail about professional tea tastings at a later stage.


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