Buying Tea and/or Tea Wares in Native Countries
I have a friend that is going to China and Japan next year and I’d like to send her w/ some money to get some tea and/or teawares (like a Chinese guywan) that are native to those countries. Given that I am not the one picking them out and I am on a VERY limited budget, what should I ask her to look for and how much should I send w/ her at the very least?
In my experience with teashops in China, I’d tell her to be really careful. They’re more than willing to take advantage of an ignorant American wandering their way into their shop.
I’d say go for the smaller, hole-in-the wall places rather then the big fancy shops. If she knows anything about tea, she should make that apparent. When I was in shops, they would push mediocre Ti Kwan Yin on me at the tastings and I said I liked oolong, but when I started talking they brought out the more impressive stuff. Also, if she’s knowledgeable on flavor, tell her to taste before buying, so you KNOW you’re getting good stuff.
As for money – things are a lot cheaper there. I bought a large Pu-Erh cake there for about 120 yuan – roughly fifteen dollars. I’ve seen the same size in America selling for $40+ minimum, regardless of age.
As for teas, I’d say Dragon Well is a must – tastes so much better directly from China. (at least it did for me…) Especially if she’s visiting the Hangzhou province. You might also ask her to pick up some yellow tea, because it’s pretty rare and only made in China (though you can find it in the states.)
Hope this helps :)