I’ve always been a tea and coffee drinking fanatic. I even tend to overdo it sometimes, constantly drinking each beverage at rapid rates.
When I was in Argentina I got hooked on drinking yerba maté (this was one of my first posts ever on Migrationology over 2 years ago, so be careful!), a richly bitter and potent (delicious) herbal beverage. I loved everything about it, the taste and the social aspects. When on the coast of Tanzania I drink my fill of ginger coffee.
So it was only natural for me to latch onto tea while in Yangshuo, China.
In China, tea has been an integral part of the culture for thousands of years.
Tea, known in Chinese as Cha (茶) is not just a drink, but throughout the dynasties of Chinese history tea has become more of an art.
While visiting the old antique town of Chengyang, I stumbled into a lady vending tea under a neat little veranda. At that moment I decided that I wanted nothing more than to buy some quality Chinese tea to drink.
When she asked me if I wanted to have a taste, I couldn’t resist!
Get exclusive updates
Enter your email and I’ll send you the best travel food content.
This isn’t exactly an official symbolic Chinese tea drinking ceremony, but she did perform a few of the normal Chinese tea drinking rituals.
I actually chose 2 different types: A blackish red tea and a high grade green tea. Pictured above is the blackish red tea before she doused it with boiling water.
The leaves were placed in a medium sized Chinese cup on a saucer with a lid.
The small little shot glass like cups were nestled together in a bigger glass bowl before I got served.
The first step of the Chinese tea drinking ceremony was to fill the little bowl of tea leaves with boiling hot water from the water boiler.
Instantly the leaves began to unravel and unleash their fragrant power.
After a few seconds she put the lid on the cup of tea and poured the water into a small strainer on top of a pitcher, the lid blocking the leaves from falling in.
This was not tea to drink!
She took the little glass cups, picked them up with bamboo tongs and washed them out with the scorching hot tea. The entire process was conducted on a bamboo tray that was outfitted with gutters so all the excess tea flowed off.
She repeated the process again, pouring hot water into the tea leaves, straining the leaves with the lid and putting the finished tea into the glass pitcher. From the glass pitcher she filled up the cleaned little shot glass cups with fresh drinking tea!
The tea was robust yet there wasn’t even a hint of bitterness to it. It was pure and crisp.
It would have gone great with a few bites of Chinese mooncake!
After such a wonderful tea ceremony just for a taste, she had totally sold me – and I wanted nothing more than to buy some tea for myself.
The black tea was 320 CNY ($50) per 1/2 kilo and the green tea was 300 CNY ($46.90) per 1/2 kilo. I got 20 CNY ($3.13) of each (a good sized bag – tea is quite light)!
Do you get attached to the local beverage of a country? Coffee, tea, beer?
Get exclusive updates
Enter your email and I'll send you the best travel food content.