Wednesday, December 14, 2011

World's Messiest Tea

It was late, pushing 9 pm, and we were shopping at the Kind Wholesale Tea Market in Kunming.  We had been traveling a long time to get here, and we were tired.  This fantastic tea market was our reward!  We saw and sampled wonderful teas and tea wares.  I could have spent an entire day (maybe week), going methodically through each shop.

Just before time to board the bus, I wandered into a small store that had boxes of various teas.  The white paper-wrapped tuochas (little bowls) caught my attention. I asked to sample one (this took a bit of pantomime).  I was surprised when it wasn't a pu-erh, but rather a pressed jasmine variety.  The flavor was mild and I thought it would make a nice gift tea.  The owner seemed hesitant to sell it (as best we could tell through the language barriers), but my traveling mates and I pushed on.

And now I know why...the tea tastes OK (not bad, not great), but it is the messiest tea I've ever dealt with!  It literally falls apart in the cup,  leaving dregs all around.  It must have been made from small tea leaf particles, held together by the steaming and compressing process.   

Ah, but it's a good memory and a good lesson:  Don't buy tea after a long day of travel in a foreign country, especially when the tea seller doesn't recommend it!


{ T G L } said...

A lesson well learnt ;)

Gah, that tea looks like... something dug up from a pond! :)


This Good Life

Marilyn said...

This makes me smile for sure.

Rosemary said...

Interesting! Love that photo with all those boxes of tea!

Angela McRae said...

I admire your persistence in acquiring this new tea!

Alex Zorach said...

I find it amusing how some retailers will sell products that they don't feel are particularly worth buying.

However, I've also found that as a white American in ethnic stores and restaurants, I'm often discouraged by the store or restaurant staff from buying certain things. Once I was told, in broken English, something to the effect of: "People who look like you, do not like this item."

It cracks me up. Sometimes these items are the ones I most enjoy. I was once given such a warning for a delightful squid soup with a black rice vinegar base, in a Szechuan restaurant, and I loved it...although it would have probably been pretty alien to most Americans. I also have noticed that there's a Malaysian restaurant here in Philly, where the items I've liked most have been the ones where I was given a similar warning.