When you’re here to eat dim sum, the first thing that happens is you sit down, and they ask you what tea you want. Usually, your choices are as follows: shoumei, shuixian, puerh, jasmine. Some places offer some low grade tieguanyin instead of shuixian, but those are your basic choices.
So I was with some friends and we went to this place we’ve never been. Instead of actually getting a choice, they just plopped down some jasmine for us – which was very unusual. I think it was because we were chatting in English before sitting down, so I guess the staff figured we didn’t speak Cantonese and wanted to avoid dealing with us.
So I asked for some puerh instead. They quickly swapped the teapots and gave us what looked like puerh. So far, so good. Except when I tried to drink it, it tasted really, really weird.
At first I thought it’s a bad tea – some restaurants use really cheap, bad tea to save on money (even though they charge you $2 USD per person for the tea). Then, after a couple sips, it really became obvious something was really wrong. We mostly avoided the tea from that point on, and near the end of the meal, I pulled out the leaves.
It’s pretty clear here that something weird is happening. Some of the leaves are the typical puerh leaves – dark, wiry, somewhat stiff. The rest however are something different. The green stuff – what was it? I took a look, and it seemed like the tea is some kind of really low grade tieguanyin or something similar.
The question is – why would anyone do that? I have two theories, but neither are very satisfying. The first is simple – they made a mistake. That seems highly unlikely, because one look at the leaves and you’ll know it’s off. Of course, maybe they mixed it by accident and simply don’t care – it’s possible.
The other is that this is some really misguided idea of blending the teas thinking that this is a good idea – that the tieguanyin will help raise the aroma of the tea, while the puerh gives it body and bass. Well…. that simply didn’t work in this case. It was really, really weird tasting.