I pity the fool who can't shake the evil bean. (Not really, I just wanted to use Mr. T's famous "I pity the fool" line.)
Living on the Big Island of Hawaii for 7 years turned me into a coffee snob. I grew to like the strong, bitter taste of Kona coffee and the coffee my friend grew on the Hamakua coast. During my 3 years in Japan I frequented two small cafes in Gifu City that served strong coffee and sweet cake, and played good, old-school jazz. I never got hooked on Japanese green or barley tea. Japanese green tea is good, but I prefer green tea ice cream and green tea chocolate to drinking it.
So when I moved to China last year I was hoping to maintain the coffee buzz. Not sure what happened. A few lukewarm cans of Nescafe and a few mediocre mocha's at some cafes and I just wasn't feeling the buzz anymore. So I gradually switched over to tea.
Flashback: The best cup of tea I've ever had in China (or anywhere else for that matter) was in a small town called Xiahe(夏河) in Gansu province. It was in a small ramen shop. The young waiter reached into a bag, pulled out a handful of tea leaves that were so dark green they almost looked black, threw them into a drinking glass (not a tea mug) and then poured hot water over them. The tea had a strong, smoky taste but it was also very smooth. I've been trying to "find" that taste ever since (about two years ago). I got a hint of it in a small ramen shop in Miyun (密云) two months ago. It wasn't as strong, but a hint of the smoky taste was definitely there. I asked the waiter what kind of tea it was and he said it was Oolong. A few weeks later I went to a couple of tea shops and tried to explain the flavor of tea I was looking for, but I still haven't found it. Maybe a trip back to 夏河 is in order. Next time I'm going to take some of the tea leaves with me.
So I bought a tea set the other day. And so far, my male ego is taking it in strides. I'm thinking I need some dolls and stuffed animals for a tea party. While she said it looks nice, my wife doesn't share my enthusiasm for tea. She likes fruit juice and milk. I'd like to bring this point up the next time a language teacher throws me a "Chinese people like tea, Americans like coffee" generalization.
I'd like to study the art of making tea. For me, it's about more than just drinking a beverage. It's like a mini ritual. It's about taking time out, sitting quietly, drinking something that tastes good and relaxes me.
I'm digging Jasmine tea. I'm hoping to switch to some green tea as the Summer heats up.
What kind of tea do you like?