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