I love hot beverages and mainly rotate between tea and coffee on a daily basis. So, when traveling in China I swap out my daily coffee with delicious teas. In my opinion, the best place to buy tea in China is from little tea markets in Yunnan Province, because this is where many types of tea are grown and processed. For example, Pu'er tea comes from the Pu'er region in the south of the province.
In many tea markets you are invited to taste the tea prior to purchasing. This is free; however, it would be rude to not make any purchase - luckily most tea isn't terribly expensive. Though there are several tea markets and shops spread throughout Kunming (the capital of Yunnan), I favor the markets around Green Lake Park.
Tea tastings usual begin with you walking around the shop choosing tea that you would like to purchase (it makes an excellent gift). If you are unsure about the different tea flavors, you can ask to taste the teas (or someone will approach you to ask if you would like to taste some of the teas you have chosen). This generally requires some Chinese language abilities, so go with a local friend or use this opportunity to practice any Mandarin you've learned. Once invited, you will sit at a small table and someone will prepare several teas for you to taste. Tip: Prior to tasting all of the teas make sure you know where the nearest public bathroom is - you will drink A LOT of tea.
|Piles of Pu'er tea cakes|
Now that you've tasted and purchased all of that tea, how do you make it when you get home? Pu'er tea and several other types of tea are often sold in formed bricks or cakes (you can see mini ones wrapped in the photograph above), thus they are brewed in a slightly different manner than loose leaf teas. Follow the steps below to enjoy your tea bricks/cakes...
Step 1: Choose your tea
Step 2: Choose how much tea you would like to use. With half of a mini brick of Pu'er Tea you will have about 15 cups of tea.
Step 3: Boil water and put your tea in a tea pot or French press.
Step 4: Add about 3 inches of water to your tea pot or French press. Allow the tea to soak and open (you may need to poke the tea brick with a spoon). This will open your tea brick and allow the flavors to come out in the tea.
Step 5: Dump out this water being careful not to lose the tea at the bottom of the pot.
Step 6: Refill your pot/French press with hot water and enjoy your tea. I typically only add enough water for one or two cups of tea at a time because my French press does not keep the tea warm. Repeat this step until the tea is light and weak in flavor.
Today I'm linking up with Treasure Tromp for Treat Yo Self Thursday.
What is your favorite kind of tea? My favorite is a toss up between green and jasmine tea.