Having savored the jasmine pearl tea at a teahouse in San Francisco earlier this year I was determined to hunt it down when my family visited China this summer. I was delighted to find out that my sister is also a tea-lover now. She took us to her favorite tea house, TianHe (天禾), located at the famous tea street in Beijing, Ma Lian Dao (马连道).
|Tea house keeper - lady in red|
The teahouse is rather a front store of a tea warehouse, large bags of various types of tea leaves filled the shop. The owner of the teahouse, a middle age woman, has a factory in her hometown in southern China to make all these teas to supply for her store here. She welcomed all of us and set up small tea cups for us to sample. Since I was there for Jasmine tea, she took out three types for us to try. The first was the jasmine pearl, the second was the jasmine tea in loose leaf form mixed with flowers, and the third was the pristine jasmine tea sprouts. As we tasted the tea getting better and better, she explained the process of making jasmine tea, the type of tea leaves used in each of the tea we sampled, and hence the difference in its taste. I felt intoxicated by the heavenly smell and flavor.
After sampling the green tea, she invited us to try some black tea. Black tea has a different processing procedure than green tea. It is known to be good for blood circulation and the GI system and especially beneficial for women. We tried two types, Jin Jun Mei (金骏眉) and Da Hong Pao (大红袍). As we savored the tea the owner smilingly told us stories on how these two types of tea got their names.
White tea has become very popular in recent years, so we will have to try that as well. White tea is known to have medicinal benefits in curing common cold and other maladies. The longer it ages the more valuable it becomes, just like wine. I have a box that my mom gave me two years ago. I haven’t touched it for not knowing its benefits, now its value has doubled! The teahouse owner boiled more water and explained that white tea requires boiling water to make, unlike green and black tea which tastes best when made with ~80°C water. We sipped the hot tea and felt a bit of bitter taste. My sister said that adding some crystal sugar into it would make it an excellent drink even for kids. White tea also doesn’t contain any caffeine, which is a total sell for Allan! He said he’d drink it everyday.
As we packed all sorts of teas we purchased, we bid good bye to the owner and thanked her for her hospitality. I asked to have a picture taken with her in front of her store and told her I’ll visit again in a few years.