I had some down time on my last trip to China and instead of visiting my old favorites again, I looked up what else is worth exploring in Shanghai. And that tea market sounded interesting enough for me to check it out.
Downtown Shanghai, three floors of tea plus everything that goes with it.
And just as with many other things you are interested in but have no clue about, this market was overwhelming. I knew I wanted to buy more Jasmine tea, which in the past I ordered online to be delivered to the hotel, but when I was presented with the very same looking tea pearls in a vastly varying price range, I was lost. Not much English is spoken at this market, but with the help of Google and a patient vendor I loaded up on enough tea to get us through next year's Christmas.
The vendor prepared three different qualities of tea, from very young picked, small leaves, to a much lesser priced quality of larger tea leaves that were infused with oils to get more flavor.
Not until you drink each one, will you notice a significant difference. The vendor tried to explain the size of leaves as she watched the pearls unfold, but to me they all looked the same.
It felt very similar to a wine tasting.......which I do not know much about either.
Plain green tea gets even more challenging, since you can seriously choose from dozens of varieties. I did not end up buying any, but instead picked a small amount of smoked tea.
Think Carolina BBQ smell. With a subtle flavor. More of a conversation tea than drinking it I think.
Go with an empty bladder, buying or not, every store keeper will offer you tastings of his favorite teas in an elaborate show & tell. I spent an afternoon in that building and did not make it past two floors.
THREE FLOORS OF EVERYTHING TEA
WHICH ONE TO BUY?
LET THE TASTING BEGIN
MORE TEA TASTING
TINY CUPS, BUT MANY OF THEM
DIFFERENT GRADES, DIFFERENT FLAVORS
FRESH GREEN TEA
CERAMICS FOR TEA
PICKING THROUGH THE LEAVES. NO IDEA WHAT HE IS LOOKING FOR
VACUUM SEALING MY CHOICES
IF YOU WANT TO BUY BULK
YES, THAT IS SMOG IN SHANGHAI