"Tea Street" in Beijing
Imagine this - a bustling city street (quite long) filled with shop after shop of TEA! That's "Tea Street" in Beijing and I could have spent a week just browsing each and every shop in great detail.
When you enter a shop, you'll receive an initial welcome, complete with mild surprise that a Westerner has found her way there. Shops vary, some have an English-speaking staff member and others don't. It didn't matter much, as the gesture to sit and taste tea is universal.
This gracious tea shop owner served us a white tea. Look at her gorgeous tea table!
I don't think anyone came home empty handed from this excursion. In fact, most of us could have spent all of our discretionary funds in one place! Good thing we had limited time. I came home with some treasures to be unveiled later, along with some tea from this shop (below). I will confess, the name is what pulled me in!
Fujian PinPinXiang Tea industry Co., Ltd
According to Mr. Wu, our National Guide, this company is well-known across China, with a good reputation. I was after a dark Wuyi oolong-style tea, and getting that communicated was quite a fun experience. Many thanks to my fellow tea mate who had been studying Chinese. Between her language skills and lots of trial and error, we found a nice Da Hong Pao and I came home with a bag full.
Side note: One of the things I learned on this trip is that Da Hong Pao, "Big Red Robe," technically refers to tea trees that are very old and very protected. Even the lucky among us won't likely sample that nectar. What we drink today (hopefully) when we have Da Hong Pao is tea made from tea plants that are derivatives of the original, several generations down the line. It's more appropriately called "Small Red Robe." Thanks to Dan for the lesson. More info.
A few more scenes from Tea Street...