12 Jun2016

Floral and Leaf Teas

by Marketman

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One of the first stalls we came across at the market in Xian was a vendor offering various types of green leaf tea and flowers for hot infusions. A quick question to check on the prices (ranging from 8-12RMB or roughly PHP50-75 per 100 grams) and I had to repeat the question. My jaw dropped. No bargaining, no shopping around, the price of say $11 per kilo of tea/flowers just seemed jaw-droppingly low. I bet you can get it for even lower (try $4 a kilo on Alibaba but you have to buy 5,000 kilos minimum), but I was just stunned by the prices (read:tourist). They are about $30-60 a kilo in the U.S. for rose petals for example, depending on purveyor. And at the other end of the spectrum, Mariage Freres, the tea shop I could die in, has teas at up to $4,400 a kilo!

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At any rate, to our guide’s amusement, I just couldn’t resist and my brain just kept screaming “buy! buy! buy!” used in the same hysterical way “tora! tora! tora!” was used in that 1970’s movie which I always thought meant “attack, attack, attack”… Can you tell how OLD I am… :) the lighter the color of the tea, the fresher. The leaves are also bigger, less wrinkled up.

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There were several quality levels of each type of flower and tea, from large blossoms, smaller ones, fresher, older. I don’t even drink floral teas, but I just couldn’t resist. So we bought 100 grams (that’s a nice little packet of tea) of chrysanthemum tea, rose tea, green teas, etc. Only spent $4-5 or so, and we had just started with the market tour! Ruixi, our guide, would later comment that of all her guests, she thinks we bought the most stuff at the market… hahaha, was I surprised? Not.

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I am not a huge rose flavored fan, but these were too pretty to resist. I wasn’t even sure how I would use them, until an hour later when we had the most amazing dessert to end our tour, and the rose syrup in it is something I hope to replicate one day.

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My only concern with teas like this, is that the flowers are raised without pesticides, and while the vendor nodded in the affirmative, you can never be sure I suppose.

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White chrysanthemums.

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Bagging the Marketman loot. Never felt so good to spend just $5. :)

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Betchay says:

    Ha! Ha! Ha! You made me laugh at “tora! Tora! tora!”
    The dried rose buds are fantastic with intact vibrant color! I would have glued them on a topiary instead of brewing them.

    Jun 12, 2016 | 6:47 am

     
  2. Footloose says:

    You might just regret it if you don’t get another chance for a stay at Amanfayun in Hangchow. I always specifically ask guides wherever tea is grown for a visit to a tea processing establishment because seeing one is never the same as another and tasting tea of one terroir is unique, undergoes subtle changes from year to year and season to season. By getting it directly from the source, you get it without the accretion of markups as it wends it way through layers of middle men. But more importantly, you are then freely able to evaluate its qualities, your judgement unhindered by the fanciful descriptions of tea promoters. It’s nearly identical to wine connoisseurship.

    Jun 12, 2016 | 6:56 am

     
  3. Nina says:

    In Yangshuo we went to a huge tea plantation and have some tea tasting of their best tea and bought a big can based on the sample tested. Upon arrival home, we discovered that what was given us was different, more inferior than the one we tasted. Mainland China is rampant with so many fakes that nationals themselves go to Hongkong to buy. Though this tea was the only one we bought in China, still, we got a fake!

    Jun 12, 2016 | 10:53 am

     
  4. Marbles says:

    Hi. May I know where this market is? And the contact number for the tour guide? Thanks.

    Jun 12, 2016 | 11:46 am

     
  5. Marketman says:

    Marbles, Muslim Market in Xi’an. Google “Lost Plate Tours” and you should find all the information you need. Footloose, we were close to booking two nights at Amanfayun on the last buying trip to the area, but just didn’t go through with it. It’s still on my bucket list.

    Jun 12, 2016 | 1:00 pm

     
  6. Natie says:

    They must be fragrant teas!

    Jun 13, 2016 | 9:25 am

     
  7. emsy says:

    Funny story about buying chrysanthemum tea. In Shenzhen, it is almost always the service/house tea of choice and I have soon developed a taste for it enough to get myself some of it for home consumption. I asked a friend what I should ask for at the market, she just said “hua cha” so off I went. When I got there and asked for “hua cha” the vendor presented me with probably 10 different flower teas (the literal translation of hua cha). Unable to see chrysanthemum in the selection, I used a translator app to check “chrysanthemum” which is “ju hua.” I looked back at the vendor and asked “juhua cha?” The vendor BURST OUT LAUGHING and worse, kept on repeating what I said to other vendors! I was so embarrassed that I stormed off. When I asked the same friend she also laughed and said that “ju hua” is slang for anus!!! So I actually asked the vendor for anus tea!!! I never asked for that tea by name ever again. I just look around and when I find it on display, I just point and ask them to weigh out what I need. LOL

    Jun 13, 2016 | 11:31 pm

     
  8. Footloose says:

    @emsy, ditto Natie says: “They must be fragrant teas!”

    Jun 14, 2016 | 7:29 am

     
  9. Marketman says:

    emsy, hahahaha, I had a good laugh at that one. You’d have to leave one’s anus in the water longer if you want the tea darker… hahahaha. Oh, that’s gross. :)

    Jun 14, 2016 | 8:39 pm

     
  10. Mary chen says:

    emsy! I almost flipped! In chinese wrong pronounciation can get u in trouble. Even us tsinoys. Hearty laugh for today!

    Jun 15, 2016 | 10:40 am

     
  11. Footloose says:

    But it’s exactly the same pronunciation and characters though. If Emsy was using the same dictionary I use, she would have gotten a warning that it’s the slang for #2.

    Jun 15, 2016 | 4:14 pm

     
  12. emsy says:

    Footloose, at that time I was using Baidu online translator, not dictionary. Now I mostly use Pleco which is much better because it also tells you what it’s slang for, Internet/online language, etc.

    Jun 15, 2016 | 9:55 pm

     

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