Greetings from Beijing! Can you believe that I’ve been here for a day this is the first time I’m sitting down and having a cup of tea? I was just running about so much yesterday and never had time to stop and relax. So I’m having a few cups early this morning before I go do some research. One thing I did yesterday was hit up Wu Yu Tai, a tea store chain in Beijing, to get some tea I could drink in my hotel room (yay for electric kettles and tea cups provided). I went to their big store in the shopping area of Wangfujing, which was pretty busy. Iooked around for a bit then waited for someone to become available to help me. Of course they spoke almost no english, so I pulled out my iPhone with my “tea flashcards” I made to facilitate. First I asked for a gong fu black and struck out completely. Since I knew the kettle in my room was one-setting (and I’m not good at judging water temps), I wanted a tea that could stand up to boiling, so my next choice was a Tieguanyin. This one, of course, they had. They had a few different grades but the lowest was 500RMB for 500g, and since I just wanted something to drink every morning in my hotel I didn’t want to spend too much, so I went for that. If it’s the same as the third grade Tieguayin that’s on their website, I paid a premium for buying in-store, or at least that store.
This morning I brewed it up. The hotel provided me with two tea cups with lids, so I used one like makeshift gaiwan and decanted into the other one. It worked pretty well, but was also pretty messy, no doubt partly because I don’t have experience with a gaiwan and partly because it’s not a gaiwan (double wammy!). I guessed on the amount of tea to put in (one somewhat rounded teaspoon-y thing I got at the grocery store), so I look forward to playing around with amounts. Steeped, it was a fairly dark yellow-amber color and it smelled roasty and pretty vegetal. This is definitely a more traditional Tieguanyin as opposed to the more green ones I’ve usually had. The vegetal smell was a bit off-putting because it smelled like it might even be a bit bitter or too vegetal for me, but my first sip was smooth and not over steeped to my taste. Roasty, vegetal, without florals, not very buttery, this isn’t what I typically look for in a Tieguanyin, but it’s pretty tasty just the same. It just kind of seems like a generic “oolong” tea though. It will make for a good everyday tea while I’m here. The experience did reinforce that buying tea here is going to be difficult with the language barrier, but I will try my best!