Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day 3 in China -- the morning Tea House

We are starting to get a little tired I think or it is that we have finally adjusted to Beijing time. For the first few days it seems that we are waking up between 3 and 4 in the morning and then just lightly sleeping until the alarm goes off, but not today. Today I slept right until the alarm at 6:30 and then I turned it off. I was dragging myself out of bed at 7:30 and then rushing down to breakfast. Trent had to be in his first meetings at 8:30 so he just grabbed a muffin and headed in. I had a trip to a tea house and the busses didn't leave until 9:00 am so I had a little time to quickly grab a bite to eat before heading to catch the bus.

I should mention that we are no small group. With 550 new global partners each bringing a guest, these spouse/guest activities are very large groups. With 40 or so people on each bus we are usually an entourage of 10-15 large tour busses. Each bus has 2 tour guides on it. Today I was in the back half of the bus with a tour guide named Allison. The front half of the bus was Japanese speaking.


On the way, I noticed this hospital and sign. It made me NOT want to go to that hospital.


This was the entrance to the tea house we were going to. The building did not look very remarkable and there was not a sign anywhere in English denoting a tea house.


But as soon as we were up the stairs you could see all kinds of teas and herbs.



There was a chinese lantern hung underneath every single light fixture.


We were seated at a table with about 20 of us surrounding it and then there were 4 tables all in one group with a woman using a microphone describing in English what the lady at each table was doing.

These were the little teacups we were served in. They were tiny and we were told we should be able to consume the tea in three sips.


Our first tea was a jasmine seed tea. The lady placed about a teaspoon of the seeds in a small glass vase like thing and then poured hot water in it. She did not even wait 2 seconds before she was pouring it through a sieve and then into the tall cup next to the little teacup.



Then she placed the little teacup upside down on top of the tall tea cup and handed them out to us. We had to flip the tea over and then smell the tall cup-- it was very fragrant almost like a perfume. I was surprised just how fragrant given that she had only had the seeds and the water together for like 5 seconds.



Here you can see her serving everyone. Yes, it kind of looks like pee. But it wasn't. It was tea.


I thought it tasted like perfume water. I wanted to add sugar to all of them. I guess it exposes my penchant for sweet things. Then there was a ginseng tea. Then it was the jasmine flower tea. This one blooms when the water is poured on it. It was pretty.




I don't know how it tasted because our server caught her elbow on the jasmine flower one and the whole thing spilled on the lap of the lady 2 over from me. It was hot. She was trying so hard to pull the material in her capri's off her legs to keep them from burning. Fortunately the water had been resting in the cup for a couple of minutes so it wasn't scalding hot, but she was still really uncomfortable.

Next was puritea?? It was gross. Supposedly all the herbs were super good for your health, especially women's health, but I gotta tell you I did not like it at all. I couldn't even make it through three sips. I don't even have a picture of it because I was trying to figure out where to dump it the whole time. The next one was a dessert tea. It was mostly dried apricots and if it had had a little sugar it would have been warm kool-aid.


Then it was rose tea. This one smelled and tasted just like the rose water that you have to buy at Greek shops to bake baklava. I guess this is how you make it.


Naturally they were showcasing all kinds of fancy tea cups while doing this. Some changed colors, some were hand crafted, some tea pots were earthy, and some were porcelein. And of course we could buy them if we wanted.





Having been to the pearl market 2 days earlier and seeing so many teacups and teas I wasn't tempted at all to purchase anything there. Not that I wanted any of them so to speak, but I knew that the prices were really high compared to the market. All in all this was a fun event, it was fun to try them all and see how they make them. I still am surprised at how little "steeping" they let the teas do. There was no time at all. The put in the herbs, poured the water, immediately strained it and served it. I'm gonna have to try that method, it will save me a lot of time. Of course it may just cause me to burn my mouth as the water will not have cooled very much.

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