Green tea is similar to coffee and beer, at least in my experience. All three are acquired tastes. Prior to 2007, I was never much of a Green tea fellow. For whatever reason, I didn’t appreciate it, and would opt for Black tea while visiting tea houses and coffee for every other occasion that required some sort of cheap (relatively speaking) beverage.
The switch occurred sometime in early January. I arrived at the school one day to find that my supply of square packets of sugar substance masquerading around as ‘coffee’ was depleted. What was available was a year-old aluminum foil bag of tea that I had been carrying around with me for about a year, but had never opened. Now was a perfect time. It was actually a bag of Wulong tea, from Taiwan, not really ‘green’ tea. A somewhat uninspired taste at first, I found myself downing glass after glass, largely because of the convince of just dumping more hot water into the glass, but also because, as a tea, I didn’t receive the nasty aftertaste of the psuedo Nescafe.
I was converted, and as such I decided it would be apt to go out and purchase some real green tea.
Curiosity continued and I inquired with my trusted friend, the Internet, into various varieties of green tea available. The teas are numerous, but the most popular appear to fall into Longjing (grown in Zhejiang), Maofeng (grown around Anhui) Pu er (Yunnan…haven’t tried it) Biluochun (Jiangsu…haven’t tried that either. Actually, there about 10 famous Chinese green teas, and I’ve only three of them.
I started out with Maofeng, largely because it is grown on and around Yellow Mountain, easily one the the best locales I’ve visited in China.
So I thought to myself, what could possibly be cooler (if you can call drinking tea a cool activity) than downing a mixture that was grown on the slope of Yellow Mountain. I mean, come on! The tea was grown on the freakin’ side of Yellow Mountain! How liaobuqi is that?
Longjing would have to wait. But it didn’t wait long. People would say “You’ve gotta try Longjing!” So I shelled out 40 kuai for a pot on Tuesday. What an amazing tea. Actually, I don’t know shit about tea, so I’m not going to even try describe the differences between Maofeng and Longjing, other than the colour and flavour of Longjing I find to be superior (the price difference supports my opinion).
Huangshan Maofeng isn’t too bad. I drank a few small bags of the cheap stuff, and I bought a 500g bag of it off the school janitor yesterday for about 30 kuai. It gets the job done at school (I’ve got the other two teachers drinking green tea now too). However, I think Longjing will be the tea of choice at home, although Yuhua tea (grown in Nanjing) had a good flavor when I sampled it at a tea house a few weeks ago. I’ll have to try more, if not out of curiosity, then for economics (Longjing appears to be almost double the cost of Yuhua in the tea houses).
I’ll save those rushing to the comment section to report about how lame I’ve become. I know already ;-)