Friday, 15 November 2013

The Price of Tea in China


A warm welcome to the first readers from:

Many people seem to be enjoying this post.

Thanks so much everybody for reading;

there is a post on my visit to the Nilgiri tea area in Kerala, India coming soon.

Fortune Cookie

为了 生计, 你 会 得到 什么. 你 的 生活 由 你 给 什么.

You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.

Kunming 昆明

When the fisheye of water
Bubble into crab-eyes -

I was lucky enough to visit Kunming Recently. A wide modern city of over 3.3 million people it still ranks as only the 29th large largest city in China.

Before I write about the tea experience I'll quickly relate how the city appeared to me.

Centrally; high rise, modern, growing at a rate faster than Beijing.

The city  has many things to recommend it. The beautiful park at its center. Dian Chi lake to the south fringed with kinds of trees I had never seen before. Random bursts of red and fuchsia bougainvillea at roadside. The delicious tangmian from local cafes. Xi Shan mountain temple.

The view from Xi Shan

I went to Kunming for the tea and the food. I went because, in the end, I am insatiably curious.

And I found the Yunnanese really quite shy and very respectful.

The tea shop at the center of Luolong Park was where I visited tea nirvana. No one spoke English in the cafe so I just pointed my foreign head inside and started talking. They went outside and fetched a woman who did not speak English either. After a charade or two demonstrating my desire for tea. I seated myself at table by the lake and watched families drink tea.
The park, a lake with joining strips of land in the center. Local people soaking up the sun and dancing in costume to small, whole orchestras. No western people anywhere, except me.

Everyone carries green tea in transparent flasks around like we do bottled water in the west. Then they brought my tea.

What they left me had me scratching my head. First a little more about Kunming.

When I first arrived it was from the 46 degree heat of Calcutta. Central Kunming has been recently redesigned with the help of Swiss architects. The spring temperatures and European cleanliness made it heaven after India. After contracting dysentery in Bihar state.. Kunming a welcome terrain even if the biggest culture shock I have ever experienced.

Amongst other things Kunming has an incredible tea market. I cycled 10 km across the city in very high temperatures to visit it. It was an extraordinary collection of purpose-built emporiums. Every Chinese tea available from Big Red Robe, Iron Goddess and Qimen congou to Ripe Puerh, White Peony and Bi Luo Chun. There was hardly anyone there. Store owners can speak English. A cake of puerh was 3 yuan say 30 pence or 45 cents. I bought a wooden tea table and a cake of puerh. Then cycled the 10 km back to the center of town. I brewed up wonderful Chun Mee, something I was carrying with me in my suitcase.

Anyway back at the park cafe they brought me a pot with no handle and no spout. Inside was a red colored tea. On the paving next to my table a steel flask that must have held three liters of very hot water. The woman came back to show me how to lift the lid and sip from the tiny teapot. And then fill up from the flask. The tea was divine. A pink, perfumed tea of ​​unknown origin - probably rose congou. It was the best tea I've ever tasted. Amongst Chinese families sitting there drinking tea, by the lake at the centre of the park.

Take a look at Steven Shelton's tea writings. He is excellent on Kunming's tea business.

http://finetea / 2 013/06/about-kunming-tea-factory-part-of-cnnp.html

Outside the Kunming tea market.


Delivery day

Tea shop

Glorious tea!

If you like travel see Singing Birds sister website GuerillaZ below.

Tea making inside one of the market shops

Kunming Tea making

Puerh tea

Zaijian, as they say in China.

Happy tea drinking!

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