Friday, November 09, 2007

All the Tea in China and Me, the Maniac With the Camera

All the tea in China? Ok, I know the five kinds here wouldn't even count for all the tea in New Jersey. But anyway, here's the booty I brought home:
the little round balls in the center of the photo are Jasmine dragon pearls, super perfumey and with a light delicious taste. The dark disk at 6:00, is Pu Er a black tea with a rich taste that tolerates a long brweing (5-7 minutes) without getting bitter, the other three teas, (at 9:00, 12:00 and 3:00 are something of a mystery to me. I wrote down the the shop clerk's pronunciation of the teas in Chnese and now don't know which name corresponds to which tea. Sorry! 9:00 and 3:00 are daisy-like flowers and 12:00 seems like an algae, it's soo green.
One of the things I really wanted to bring home from China was lots of tea but I did no research beforehand to find out what I should be looking for so my pantomime shopping experience was a little shaky. In Beijing, I heard the specialties are jasmine and chrysanthemum teas, so I made sure to get them. Tea shops often display transparent glass cups of tea with bloomed flowers inside. At first I was charmed but after seeing this time and again, I got the impression that the bloomed flower tea was a sort of tourist trap, all looks and no flavor.

Now, the tea I saw almost everybody drinking on the street looks just like this. Standard green tea leaves floating at the bottom of very large glasses or jars, made to be sipped all day long. Music to sip tea all day long by: "Pennyroyal Tea" by Nirvana. When I took this photo the tea owner looked at me as if I were an absolute moron and giggled to himself. What a spectacle I was! I'm sure he thought I was so strange to marvel at what to him was the most normal everyday habit. I did things like that all over town and ellicited laughs everywhere I went.


Blogger Cherry said...

Tea shopping IN China sounds like fun. Did you get to taste the different teas?

I have some of the Jasmine Dragon pearls I got at a Chinatown shop in SF. I bought it as a gift for the hubby, to later find out he doesn't care of jasmine. More for me! I love to open the can and smell it.

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, being a food blogger and wanting photos can make others think you are very odd indeed :)

11:39 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Cherry, In the place where I went, they didn't have us taste anything but you can do that in a lot of places. And you're so right about the Dragon Pearls, they smell soo good!

Hi Maryann, It's true! That wasn't the first time somebody looked at me funny while I was taking pictures.

10:44 AM  
Blogger kimba said...

The unidentified teas are gorgeous.! My (very soon to be) sister-in-law is Chinese; I'll direct her here and see if she can shed any light on it.

12:01 AM  
Blogger kimba said...

Here's what I got from the fabulous Chinese sister-in-law:

Nice to hear from you and glad that you think I am the Tea Expert (LOL). I can only try my best to provide answers with the help of internet search.

12:00 looks like Lotus Plumule (the heart of the lotus seed), either 9:00 or 3:00 might be Chrysanthemum (cannot really tell from the picture). The middle one does look like the Jasmine dragon pearls, and the 6:00 does look like some sort of black tea.

Hope this helps you interpret your notes!

12:08 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Kimba thanks SO much for the research (and thank your future sister-in-law as well). I asked for Chrysanthemum tea and the tea at 9:00 is that in theory but when brewed, the flowers open up and look more like complex daisies as they have a yellow pollen center. I think chrysanthemums are all petals. I dunno. But thanks for the help!

8:35 AM  
Blogger Lotus Reads said...

What an interesting post Susan! I have some Jasmine Dragon pearls myself and they make the wonderful tea! I would love to sample some of that Chrysanthemum tea (if that is what it is) because all the books I read on old China mention the women drinking Chrysanthemum tea and I would love to taste some!

12:50 PM  
Blogger LaoChaGui said...

The flower teas are by no means a tourist trap, although they should be much cheaper than proper tea. Chrysanthemum tea is wonderful, one can buy all white flowers or one can buy a variety of colors all mixed together. Flower teas of many varieties are available in China and are consumed in great volume. Rose tea is popular and Jasmin tea is often classed as flower tea even though it is real tea leaves scented with jasmin. There is also Honeysuckle flower teas and osmanthus flower tea. These are often lighter in flavor than most teas and are great for drinking late at night or for those who are sensitive to caffeine.

9:23 AM  

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