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.