Well, Beijing I am in. It’s only been two days, but I’ve already made two visits to different teashops and bought different things. The most important purchase is a new teapot, for drinking qingxiang Taiwanese oolong. I’ve always used just a gaiwan for that, but I now think it’s a waste since I drink a fair amount of it, so I might as well get a pot for it. I’m rather happy with my purchase (only 100 RMB), now I only need to find the tea to go with it (and to cook the teapot once I get home).
Besides that, I bought some new tieguanyin from the same Xuefeng people. They really do have nice tieguanyin that has a fantastic aftertaste that is hard to find, and even in the mangled cup that the storekeeper served me, it lingered for a few minutes before going away. That was rather impressive.
The place where I got the teapot is also a teahouse that I’ve visited before. It is right across the street from the Confucian temple and the Guozijian, and they have a dysfunctional website (www.eatea.com.cn) that I can’t access in the mainland. Their teas are not insanely good, but they are reasonably priced and the atmosphere is rather comfortable. I like the decor there and the staff are generally friendly, which is fairly important (as opposed to snobbish staff at some teahouses).
We (me, my girlfriend, and her sister) had two teas. One was an alleged 30 year old puerh, what they call the “iron cake”, and the other was a Dahongpao. Since there were three of us, the rules were that you have to order 3 servings of tea. I decided we’ll get two servings of the Puerh, and then one of the Dahongpao.
The puerh brewed somewhat green, actually, even though they claimed it was 30 years. I was slightly suspicious, but iron cake, which is known for being compressed very very tightly, generally ferment very slowly and thus it is not completely out of the question that it was still a little green. The first few infusions were a little sour and didn’t taste that good, but after about the 4th infusion the taste improved and it got better. The way the puerh tasted was not what I had expected at all, but it was rather interesting and is part of the reason why puerh is so much fun to drink. I think I ended up making about 10-12 infusions before moving on to the Dahongpao.
The Dahongpao is of fairly high quality, although it’s not really top notch, I think. I haven’t had a Dahongpao for a while, and it is nice to drink it again and taste the “rock” taste that it is so famous for. The “rock” taste of Dahongpao (or any rock tea) is so distinctive, and if it is a good tea, lingers on forever. It does die fairly quickly, lasting only about 3-4 infusions, but man, those were good ones.
Then I got sick, and came down with a fever the same night. Oh well. More tea adventures after I recover.