For a tea lover, Hong Kong is quite a dangerous place.
I say that because today, in the course of doing non-tea related things around town, I walked by 3 different teashops, all selling attractive looking (packaged) and somewhat pricey teas. I was getting a haircut, and after I left the haircut joint, I passed by a branch of Fook Ming Tong, which I have talked about before — well packaged teas selling to the gift-giving crowd. They have two types of puerh (loose) on sale, for example. Both are mixed cakes, with some cooked and some raw tea mixed in. Not cheap — $10 USD for 1 oz for the pricier ones, and about 2/3 of that for the cheaper one. The woman didn’t offer me a taste though, and I didn’t exactly have enough time for one anyway for me to bother asking for one, so I dodged a bullet (in the sense that I didn’t buy anything).
Then, I walked by another tea store somewhere along the way to meeting with my sister (for afternoon tea, complete with scones). This one’s an older tea shop in Hong Kong called Ying-kei. This particular branch is newer, and is jazzed up a bit to attract the same sort of people who shop at Fook Ming Tong. I walked by, but didn’t go in. I know they won’t treat me nicely because I don’t look the part.
Then, after our afternoon tea, I went to a supermarket of sorts where they also have a few food outlets, and when I was walked towards the burger joint, there it was, another tea vendor. This one’s called Ming Cha. As you can see, it’s a nice website. Apparently (according to a tea friend in HK) this company was started by some product design person who likes tea. His tea expertise is not great, but he is good at packaging, and the stuff is packaged quite nicely. HOWEVER, the place does NOT offer any free tasting at all (Fook Ming Tong does, they just didn’t ask me to try). You have to BUY a serving of tea at this place to try something, or you can sniff the (slightly overexposed) dry leaves.
That’s just unacceptable. The prices they charge for the single serving tea is at least something like $6 USD. While it’s not bad compared to US prices for shit tea, this is just not kosher in a place like HK where I can get free tasting for free. And I don’t want to sink $30 before finding the right kind of tea that I want. AND, they brew it for you when you want the single serving, and they use a TIMER. Horror of horrors. The guy selling the tea didn’t know as much as I do, which is also a Very Bad Thing. So even though I was tempted three times today, I didn’t buy anything.
Back to the Best Tea House tomorrow with more puerh to share with Tiffany. They’re not the only show in town worth going to, but I like them. I should pay a visit to another place in a few days.