Friday March 31, 2006

My girlfriend and I went to this teahouse called “Chamate” yesterday in the Sun Dong An Plaza on Wangfujing. In Chinese they’re called 一茶一坐. The place is clean and modern looking, and thankfully, has a smoking and non-smoking section. We were first placed in a non-smoking table, but it was right in front of some guy who was smoking in the smoking section, so we moved to an area that’s outside of the store (in the mall area) and no more smoke. Smoking should be banned from all tea drinking establishments.

Anyway, the tea. There are two ways of ordering tea there. One is the gongfu set, which includes all the necessary parts. The other is a much more simple set, consisting of a tea making vessel and a tea drinking vessel. I, of course, opted for the gongfu set. We decided on a Dongding Oolong Chawang (凍頂烏龍茶王). They claim it’s aged 10 years, and I think they’re not lying. From the selection of teas at the place, it was obvious that it had either a Taiwanese owner or is originally from Taiwan, although I haven’t seen it when I was in Taipei. Most of their teas are Taiwan teas of one kind or another, and the taste/selection is distinctively Taiwanese.

The tea came in a sealed bag, all 30g of it. They gave us a big pot, enough for 4 people, and all the other trappings of a gongfu teaset. At first I thought I could use only half of the leaves, and keep some for the future, but then I realized that it requires the whole 30g for the pot to be properly filled and brew a good cup of nongxiang tea. So, I poured the whole thing in. It felt like a lot, especially for two people, which is why I always buy a small pot for these things because otherwise you waste a lot of leaves.

The tea itself is nice. Very strong, and obviously well aged. Aged oolong leaves are always of a very dark green colour, and this is no exception. The taste is bitter, with a nice fragrance that is usual of nongxiang teas, but a little thing, as is often the case of Taiwan teas. I think it is not the best aged oolong I’ve had, but it is quite fine. We sat there for two hours, then headed to Made in China for roasted duck.

This is certainly some place I can go again for a cup. They sell nice teaware too… but I have really bought way too much already in the way of tea on this trip.


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