Well, it’s Saturday. No libraries are open. What else can I do but go to Maliandao (yeah, that’s sort of a lie, but let me rationalize my tea shopping trips, ok?).
It was a bit of a confused start. I made an arrangement to meet with a vendor today, and I also had someone else I was supposed to see who found me by a complicated way through this blog (let’s call him L). Eventually, I went up to the L’s store first. It’s actually in a place I’ve never been to on Maliandao — it’s the new building of the Beijing Tea Corporation, just completed and moved in. You can still smell the paint and what not in there. It’s an airy place, and there are a few stores with stuff that I might want to try later on. I will go back there next time. I think very few people know about this yet, so it’s mostly a place for tea dealers/merchants to buy stuff, I think.
Then I went to the Chayuan place where I was supposed to meet the tea merchant. I found them through taobao. I was looking for a particular tea — I think I might have mentioned it. The tea is made by a factory called Quan Ji, a small operation running out of Yunnan. I tried one of the cakes, a six mountain mix, at a store in Chayuan, but the initial price they quoted me was astoundingly high, so I balked and walked. I found these guys on taobao selling it for much less, so I contacted the owner and went to her store…
…which turns out to be the same store I visited. I found that rather funny, although not surprising. On my last visit to Chayuan I deliberately walked through the whole place to see if I can find another store that sells Quan Ji, but didn’t see any, so I had my suspicions that it’s the same store. Turns out to be true. Oops! 🙂
I sat down, and tried two of their Quan Ji cakes and had a pleasant chat with the owner of the place, a woman in her 30s or 40s. She’s very nice and seems like someone who genuinely likes tea. The manager, who was the person in charge last time I was there, eventually remembered me (I think the tea girl remembered me as soon as I walked in, but she didn’t want to say anything, I suppose). She was as annoying as last time. I really wanted to tell the owner that her manager is ruining her business, but who am I to say such things.
The two cakes I tried were from Gedeng and Manzhuan. Both are very good, big tree, properly made, and tastes like puerh should. Upon further inquiry, it turns out that they have tongs of tea that consist of one each of each mountain, and one cake of the six mountain mix cake which I tried last time (and which really impressed me). I wasn’t going to buy much today….. but I couldn’t resist.
So I ended up with this at home:
I debated whether to open it or not…. but I wanted to make sure I got what I was supposed to get.
The first cake is
While I left the rest in the tong — opening it any further would require dismantling the tong itself, something I didn’t want to do. Other than the six mountain mix, the rest of the six mountains are, properly speaking, Gedeng, Manzhuan, Mengsa, Wangzhi, Yibang, Youle. No, Yiwu is not one of them. Yiwu is technically a part of Mengsa, actually. This is from a text written during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) that I recently looked up.
I opened up this nice wrapping job
To reveal the tea
This is the six mountain cake…. which was really quite impressive. I have very high hopes. The tea doesn’t look very good — none of the Quan Ji stuff do, but somehow, the tea tastes just the way I think it should. Of course, I could be wrong and it could end up being absolute crap, but I feel pretty sure with this one.
After this, I met up with L again for dinner. He’s opening a store in Shanghai that sells tea, and is going to do some shopping for that. I am going to go accompany him on Monday afternoon to Zhongcha’s storage facility here in Beijing to taste some tea. That will be interesting…