Posted by: englishdubai | February 20, 2008

The Art of Tea

A few weeks ago whilst in San Francisco I got the chance to have a mooch around China Town. I really love visiting China Towns across the world and have enjoyed seeing the ones in Sydney and New York. The sights, smells and vast array of goods for sale is fascinating not to mention the oh so tasty Dim Sum. After a short hike up some of the steep San Francisco hills in the winter rain we were all ready for said Dim Sum. Then I was told we were going to go for “tea tasting”.

This idea did not feel me with happiness. I am one of the few who do not drink tea or coffee and the idea of drinking something I don’t like was not appealing. Still, I was with nine Germans and one French person – so I went for the social aspect. It turned out to be really fun and I was glad I went.

Going into the Tea Shop – it was like an old British sweet shop. Jars filled every available area of wall and these jars were filled with a mind boggling array to tea varieties. My favorite was the amusingly named “Ding Dong Oolong” – I had to get a photo for posterity:

After goggling at the tea varieties we were invited to sit at a low bench for the tea tasting. This was the fun part. One of the owners of the shop took us on a whirlwind tour of Chinese tea. While we brewed each batch we got a short history on the tea in question, what it was good for and many tips on how to make tea i.e. don’t over brew it. Here we are being “schooled” in the art of tea:

As it was very cold I was keen to take something in that was warm. Now even as a non-tea drinker it was easy to identify the differences between the tea and the flavors came through as described by the shop keeper. Still – some of it I was sure tasted like fish food as opposed to any tea I might know.

Still, it was interesting and the shopkeeper had an entertaining patter and it must have worked as a number of my group made sizable purchases. Though I did not see anyone go for the “Premium Red Jacket” at an amazing cost of $500 for a 500 grams. The only things I left with were slightly increased knowledge of tea and a full bladder.

However next time I go to a Chinese restaurant you might see me order a small green tea.


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