A Tea Addict's Journal

A tea walk

November 24, 2007 · 3 Comments

I decided to go for a walk today, since the weather is finally nice (albeit briefly) after many many days of rain and almost-rain (which is I think partly why the cake started growing mould). So, where to go? I went to the Chongqing N. Rd area, where the old shops are. I’ve only explored a small area of that street, so I decided to walk the other way and come down from the north.

There are indeed lots of teashops on the way, many of which look like old wholesale stores. Some scenes from the street

I visited three stores. The first is a more touristy/retail oriented one. I drank an aged oolong that’s more fired than aged, but it was pretty interesting, especially the strong tangerine peel notes in the aftertaste. There isn’t much else of interest there though, and I wanted to keep walking…

I passed by a few stores that pretty much ignored me — the man might be watching TV, or busy doing something else. I just poked around. Then I passed by this store that looked newish, with puerh and stuff and not at all like all the other places I walked by today…. so I went in. My, the guy was rude. He didn’t look too happy to start out with, and then asked “so what do you drink? sheng or shu?”. This is a pretty typical question to ask a new customer in a puerh shop. I said I drink pretty much only sheng. Then came the response, “oh, these days it’s pretty hard to afford to drink sheng”. It was said in a way that actually meant “it’s pretty hard for people like you to afford sheng”. Needless to say, I walked out of the place right away. I don’t mind stores that ignore me or whatever — it’s almost charming, but I’m not about to walk into a store that actually insults its customers. And this wasn’t even one of those charming old stores. This place is for “rich” people who can afford their teas (which were for the most part standard issue 80s or 90s teas… nothing spectacular)

Anyway, I left with a sour taste, but quickly forgot when I was further ignored at another store that was obviously some Grand Old Shop that does wholesale. One kilo of jasmine for $2 USD, anyone?

I ended up walking into a random store. I don’t know why I ended up there instead of the other ones, but I walked in, and first poked around, looking at the (bad) pots they had along the wall. Then I asked the lady if she had some aged oolongs, my standard opening line these days. She did (they all do, no matter what). I saw it, asked around…. and then saw there were cans that said “Wuyi Shuixian”. So I asked if they had shuixian…. of course she does, and then she proceeded to open some of these cans. Interestingly enough, the ones she opened said “puerh” on them. In fact, the cans are basically unlabeled — the names on the cans have no relation to what’s actually in them, but she remembers exactly what’s in which. I ended up buying a bit of aged qizhong, and some aged tieguanyin. I also got some shuixian from the 80s.

Now I only need to try my new acquisitions….

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3 responses so far ↓

  • iwii // November 24, 2007 at 1:36 pm | Reply

    You should have replied very confidently “I can afford to buy the whole shop if I feel like it”, then ask him to try pretty much all he had and eventually walk away without buying anything.

  • lewperin // November 24, 2007 at 5:01 pm | Reply

    A side street, you can see how the only sign illuminated is the teashop’s. While not exactly always true, I think for me, when I am walking down the street, that’s how it seems sometimes 🙂

    That’s called “tea radar”.

  • MarshalN // November 24, 2007 at 10:06 pm | Reply

    I did leave with a parting shot, but not quite that, Iwii 🙂

    Tea radar…. heh, I know I have a tea map in my mind now, at least 🙂

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