I’m proud of my tea collection because it has taken me quite a bit of work. You’d think that living in China I’d be set. After all, China tea is world famous. And if I liked green tea that would be true.
But the truth is while I like green tea, I prefer black tea and I especially like blends. You know, the trendy Teavana type stuff. And that’s really hard to find in china.
So over the years I have worked out a great tea system to get different kinds and now getting a cup of tea is like looking at a photo album because each tea brings up a different memory. Here’s a peek at my tea collection.
Twinning’s English Breakfast and Earl Gray are a mainstay in my collection. I always try to have them on hand even if it’s a little tricky. I end up buying boxes at the fancy supermarket in either Shanghai or Hangzhou. But in mainland China it’s considered a specialty food and priced accordingly. These two boxes were bought by my friend Michelle (Mushy). She was going to Hong Kong for a little visit and she asked if I would like anything. There was only one thing I could think of: Twinning!
Speaking of Hong Kong these are some teas I got when I was there. My best friend Color and I went to have afternoon tea at this swank shop called TWG. They had hundreds of varieties and blends and while it was quite pricey I had to buy a few. (Notice the bag is named Camelot tea, how cool a name is that?!)
I got this green tea in the mail recently thanks to my blog. A few weeks ago I wrote about a unsatisfactory experience I had at a Shanghai book signing. To my surprise Tom Carter, the editor I smack talked, found my entry and wrote to me. He was surprised to hear about my experience and totally apologetic. It was really nice, as I’m pretty much a nobody and who cares about my opinion? And he offered to send me his first book (a photography book) and tea from his in-law’s tea plantation. I was going to say no, but then I can’t resist free tea, especially made by a friend of a friend. It was unexpected, and unnecessary, but also totally nice. Thanks Tom!
My best friend Color had a business trip to Inner Mongolia and while there he got me some local tea! I was so excited to try it, but took a tiny sip and nearly gagged. It’s salt flavored tea. So gross. But it was really nice of him to get it for me, and reminds me of him so I just can’t make myself throw it away even though I’ll never drink it again.
I just love some of the American teas, Constant Comment, Celestial Seasonings, and luckily my mom hooks me up with regular shipments of the stuff. I know it’s silly to be living in China and have tea sent to me from America, but even in the fancy supermarkets it’s hard to find these brands and flavors.
Whenever I take a trip to Shanghai I make sure to stop at Marks & Spencers, a British clothing store. I go there not for their overpriced, ugly clothes, but for their amazing, reasonably-priced food market. It’s one of those little fancy places with wines, breads, cookies and jams. And amazing snacks and delicious tea. I could spend a million bucks in that place, but I refrain and instead help myself only to their tea (okay, sometimes I hit up the buy-one-get-one-free section. I’m okay with eating expired snacks.) It’s a good price and they have some great flavors.
This is my all-time favorite tea in my collection. The green tin is a gift from Color’s parents, and the stuff in the bottle is black tea, handpicked and roasted my Color’s grandma. (I know it should be kept in a light safe jar, I just don’t have any.) Color’s parents made Color and I wait in the car for about 45 minutes while they went shopping for the perfect box of tea for me. I used to have 4 containers of the stuff, but it’s been over a year and I drank the rest. But of course the handmade tea is most meaningful. Truth be told it tastes a bit “earthy” but his grandma made it. She made the tea. Amazing.
Here are some various tea I’ve gotten recently as gifts. It’s a well-known fact that I love tea so tea and tea accessories are a regular gift from my students and friends. It’s so nice and I’ve gotten some beautiful accessories over the years.