Thursday, December 22, 2005

China | Beijing | Maliandao Tea Street

I mentioned below that several new tea stores have recently opened in Ulaan Baatar. This Is certainly an improvement in the tea situation here, but the stores are still lacking in certain kinds of tea, namely Pu-Erh and the more unusual varieties of green tea. So I winged down to Beijing to stock up on what was not available here. From the second the plane left the ground in Ulaan Baatar to the second the door slammed behind me in my room in the Yong An Hotel in the Sanlitun Embassy District exactly two hours and forty-eight minutes had elapsed, a new record for me on the Beijing commute. This was aided by no line whatsoever at immigration and a bus leaving for Sanlitun the moment I stepped out of the arrival terminal.
I immediately called my friends Ms. R. and Rezwan and we all headed for our favorite Uighur restaurant not far from the Forbidden City.
Ms. R. modeling her new camel wool hat-scarf combo
The next day with Ms. R. in tow I headed for the Maliandao Tea Street in the Western Xuanwu District of Beijing. This is the Mecca of tea drinkers, the Axis Mundi of the Tea Universe. In addition to the main four-story market which has dozens if not hundreds of stores selling nothing but tea and tea drinking accessories—cups, glasses, pots and whatnot of every imaginable variety–the street itself is lined with hundreds more tea shops.

The Main Tea Market on Maliandao Tea Street - four floors of tea shops
The moment you walk in the main market you are accosted by people practically begging you to come in and sample their teas.
One corridor of many on the first floor, all lined with tea shops
Each shop has a fully equipped tea sampling table and you are encouraged, nay, expected to sample any tea before you buy it. Could there possibly be a more enjoyable way to spend a Sunday afternoon?
A sight to make any tea lover swoon
Ms. R. is a hard-core bargainer and she was able to get most of the tea I wanted for one-fourth of the asking price. I won’t say there were not some heated exchanges between Ms. R. and the otherwise charming young ladies who served the tea and quoted the prices, but for Ms. R. all this was just water off a duck’s back.
Tea sampling

More tea sampling
I just sat back and sipped tea, not wishing to concern myself with the mundane details of unseemly haggling. Anyway, you have to speak Chinese, a language which seems specifically designed for yelling at people, to get the really good prices.
Ms. R. quite pleased with herself after a hard session of bargaining.


Bill said...

Hi, Just read this post and I LOVED IT! I am so so envious of you for having gone there LOL.. I Loved it the pictures, information all of it.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I will be in Beijing in the end of December and I love tea. So your information helped me a lot to find that interesting place and to know what is expecting me. Thank you for your text and photos. I can hardly wait for my trip!!!
Peter from Germany :-)

Anonymous said...

Ms. Rahila is so gergous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But why u hiden her full name!

Don Croner said...

Her full name is La La. And yes she is gorgeous, and sweet as honey.