Back to Beijing

Today was a lovely day, with warm temperature and great weather, and the sky was actually blue and not some shade of yellow. I am rather jet-lagged… feeling sleepy around 12pm. What better way to try to keep myself awake than to walk around on this sunny day while pumping myself full of caffeine?

Yes, I went to Maliandao. Surprised? Didn’t think so.

When I got there, I had this strange feeling that everything felt foreign, somehow. I know the place pretty well now, but somehow today, when I went there, I felt odd. Maybe not having been here for more than a month did the trick and made me feel a little odd.

In order to get myself into the mood, I went into Jingmin Chacheng to see what’s there, and if there’s anything new. I went into a store that I have never really went to previously, looked at some cakes, sat down to taste some, and I think I gradually got myself back into the mode of drinking tea with strangers while there.

I originally didn’t want to try anything there, but ended up trying three different kinds of tea. The first is a quite delightful Bulang cake, and quite reasonable too after hacking off more than 50% off the list price. I didn’t end up buying one, as the guy offered me those discounts without me asking for it (oddly enough). I told him I’ll probably go back and pick up a few. I think he’s basing on the assumption that I’ll buy a tong (he’s quoting me those prices) but I don’t know if I actually want a tong of tea….. it’s a little too much at this moment. At most I want two or three cakes.

The second was a Banzhang, which, while being about 5 times the Bulang at something like $50 USD, is not as good. It doesn’t strike me as a good tea, and is expensive merely by being Banzhang (everything Banzhang is astronomical these days). That’s why I don’t generally buy anything Banzhang…. price/quality wise, it’s not usually a good deal.

The third tea is a mixed cake of some sort, and the guy couldn’t tell me where it’s from. From the taste it’s from the Six Mountains, probably something like Manzhuan. It’s not too bad, but too pricey and not good enough.

I didn’t buy anything. I might go back for the Bulang… and to try their spring teas, which are coming down in a week or so.

I then proceeded to L’s store, where I sat down to have some dianhong. The girl who’s usually there, L’s business partner Xiaomei (L’s usually in Shanghai) is down in Yunnan with L and others to check things out for the first time. So only the assistant was there today. The dianhong is of the larger leaf variety, quite nice, but a little weak. I think they didn’t steep the tea long enough and were brewing it like young puerh, which is not the way to go. After drinking it, I thought to myself that I should really go check out redteas everywhere.

I ended up in a Wuyi tea store that is opened by a relative of one that I often go to. I tried perhaps half a dozen teas there, and bought 100g of one. It’s a heavily roasted Shuixian, quite nice, and good chaqi. It’s not that cheap, but I think it’s worth it for the price. I have, of course, more than enough Wuyi to handle, but not quite so much that I’ll have to worry about not finishing them. Part of my calculation is that I need “drink it now” teas more than “storage” teas, and this falls into the “drink it now” category. Young puerhs…. gotta really think about them before buying a bit lot of them at this point.

Some of the other teas I tried there were older dahongpaos, which were of varying degrees of interest (some were quite good!). One tea stood out as interesting… a variation on Zhengshan Xiaozhong. I didn’t like it, but it was interesting to look at the leaves and taste the tea… which was like ZSXZ, but not really….

I got pretty pumped up by caffeine, but that didn’t stop me from feeling extremely sleepy once I got home…. I think I am heading to bed.

P.S. Seems like all blog websites are down in China!


Comments

Back to Beijing — 3 Comments

  1. I’m glad to hear that you’re back on Maliandao. The universe feels… not quite in balance when you’re away.

    Have you ever found a truly satisfying shuixian? Perhaps it’s a flaw of my palate, but nongxiang wulong seem simplistic and unsatisfying. I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me I was missing something obvious.

    On a tangential note, have you ever visited Haiwenzhu / “Ocean-bowl House”? A decent little restaurant, but charming mostly for it’s traditional Beijing atmosphere – literally old Beijing, without any of the touristic pretension that would accompany a restaurant aimed at laowei (such as me). It reminded me of an old London hotel – not in grandeur, but in unassuming, down-to-earth traditionalism. I’m afraid I can’t remember the location, but it’s not a million miles away from the centre. It’s probably within the first few road-orbits, at least.

    Toodlepip,

    Hobbes

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