A Tea Addict's Journal

Difficult question

January 22, 2007 · 6 Comments

Inevitably, when your friends know you as the “tea guy”, they start asking you that very difficult question — “what should I get?  What’s good?  What should I buy as a souvenir for xxx?”

A friend’s friend who is visiting Shanghai asked me that today, and I really was at a loss for an answer.  I thought about longjing, but really, longjing is not very well appreciated, necessarily, by the people who don’t particularly like tea (in this case, the object of the gift-giving are some Americans).  Longjing is also expensive.  The girl then said “would chrysanthemum be good?”, and I thought that might be a good gift — not expensive, tastes reasonable, etc, but then, I am loathe to suggest an herbal tea…

It’s always made more difficult when I ask “so what kind of taste do you like?” the answer will be “I’m not sure — anything good will do”.  Ugh.

So…. if someone asks you this question, especially when buying stuff for someone who knows little to nothing about tea, and if you have an unlimited supply of tea at your disposal, what would you usually suggest?

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6 responses so far ↓

  • lewperin // January 22, 2007 at 12:12 pm | Reply

    I find that pretty much everyone from novices to tea fanatics can enjoy a tippy Dian Hong.

  • xcasper54x // January 22, 2007 at 12:42 pm | Reply

    I would suggest something that is generally well liked. You might as well play the odds. Following this line of thinking, Longjing is probably a good choice.

  • davelcorp // January 22, 2007 at 4:28 pm | Reply

    Well… the gateway drug for me was high-mountain Taiwanese oolong. A Li Shan is a generally affordable intro to ‘good tea.’ Also, getting an oolong usually prompts people to ask questions regarding the different classifications, e.g. “What’s the difference between green, oolong, and black (red)?” And you know what that leads to.

  • Phyllo // January 22, 2007 at 8:13 pm | Reply

    For someone who knows little to nothing about tea…jasmine pearl tea if woman, dahongpao if man.

  • runrabbit6 // January 23, 2007 at 9:21 am | Reply

    I’ve given the jasmine art ball teas to friends as they have something to watch as well as drink.   I also try to consider how they will drink the tea.  Toss some in a cup and add water all day?  Brew ‘English style’? Gongfu style?  If I’m really stuck, I say, ‘It sounds like XXX wants a souvenir of China, this is a decent tea and particular to this region.  Why don’t you take a picture of the tea lady brewing it in her store?  That would make an interesting gift – tea and picture.’  Then, it’s no longer a question of my taste.

  • kibi_kibi // January 23, 2007 at 10:31 am | Reply

    I think Davelcorp is right… some cheap but reasonable oolong.

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