All the Tea in China

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The people of Chengdu love tea. No question about it.

The city has the highest density of teahouses of any city in China. There are literally thousands of teashops, where people go to play cards, chat and relax… with a good cuppa, and endless refills.

We tend to think that we Brits are good tea drinkers – a nation of tea drinkers, we claim. But actually although we drink a lot of the stuff we tend to stick to good old English Breakfast tea or Earl Grey.

The Chinese are far more dedicated and adventurous. Black, green or green with jasmine leaves perhaps, one of countless blends and variations. The name I liked the most? ‘Snow on top of the mountain’ tea. Wonderful.

At Du Fu’s Thatched Cottage, I sat down in a secluded courtyard garden for my own quiet tea moment, sipping from a teacup on which was painted the figure of Lu You, a poet almost as famous as Du Fu himself.

Sitting at a table with elegant calligraphy on the tablecloth – with words meaning ‘dragon’, ‘happiness’ and other such things in Chinese –
I learned how to drink tea the Chinese way, using the delicate lid of the cup to scoop the green tea and jasmine to the side, then balancing it on the top in such a way that the leaves were kept out of my mouth, whilst still leaving a gap from which to drink – and breath in the aroma – of the fresh tea.

And I could begin to see why the Chinese enjoy their tea quite so much.

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