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Green Tea, Red Tea, Flower Tea, White Tea...Then More Green Tea...

November 6, 2012   

Once a semester, ACC offers students an opportunity that they call the "Beijing Dream." The idea is that students usually have an unfulfilled wish to do something in Beijing, either because they need help, or else have never gotten around to doing it. After our last Friday's test, students had the opportunity to choose to do any activity they wanted, and a teacher accompanied them. ACC even gave students up to 50 yuan. 

My "dream" was to go to MaoLianDao, Beijing's famous tea district. I have always wanted to learn a bit more about China's tea culture so I figured this was a good opportunity. We gave presentations today, so I have some knowledge here. Although Chinese tea has been around for thousands of years - their history is so long it makes my head spin sometimes - this area is rather new, and didn't really become popular until around the time of the Beijing Olympics. It is now the biggest tea distribution center of northern China, with about 1000 shops and tea from all over China.

I was a tea fan before China, and now drink tea on a daily basis. But after Friday afternoon, I was just about tea-ed out. Our group consisted of one teacher and a few classmates who had chosen the same "dream" as me. In just about every shop, customers can taste the tea before purchasing, and I swear I had at least 30 of those small cups. I have also never before seen tea steeped so carefully. At home and school I have tea bags, and here I'll usually just throw the leaves straight into my cup. But in these stores, it is safe to say that the process was a bit more complex than that, and involved a number of different pots and tea utensils. They even had a special way of pouring it! I felt like I was witnessing a wine tasting or something of the sort, but with tea. Best of all, it tasted absolutely amazing.

We all purchased nice gifts for friends and family back home, and learned some interesting tea facts along the way. Nonetheless, after nearly three straight hours of tea drinking and price haggling, we were worn out! It was an exhausting Friday afternoon, but hey, you can never regret a little cultural enlightenment and tea tasting.