Red Circle Tea

The long night

Our flight was very long, fourteen hours and generally uneventful and cramped.  I slept deeply but not enough.  We have crossed the international dateline and the sun chased us all the way to Honk Kong.   We touched down perfectly at 6:05 a.m., and headed headed out through the heavy humidity into Tsim Sha Tsui.  We met up with a friend who helped us change money, jumped up the MTR to Lo Wu with her and had an easy border crossing under a hot sun in Shenzhen.  Shenzhen, in addition to being a border town, is the capital of Anything Fake.  They have fake designer shoes, purses, bags, antiques, and even fake tea.   To accommodate the shopping masses, they have restaurants and even a few good ones.  The food isn't fake though, it's quite authentic, and extremely fresh.  We stopped for lunch and had a fabulous dim sum. Pork dumplings with ginger, custard buns, fish cakes, and flat rice noodles with huge succulent shrimp.

Dim Sum on our arrival

It was good to eat, it was the first flavorful and filling meal since before our plane ride.  That seems to be a theme here in China, eat, and later in Guangzhou I learn, be eaten (mosquitoes need three meals a day, too).  After our meal, we took the train from Shenzhen through Dongguan, and in to Guangzhou.  On the way we passed peasant farm shacks, rice paddies gleaming in the sun, huge factories, and small villages. We arrived at 3 and made it to our hotel, and by 5 we were in a taxi on our way to see Shi Fu, our tea master and teacher.

We arrived at Shi Fu's offered gifts to him and to the ladies who work at the tea house, and sat for a few cups of tea and a brief overview of what to expect from this year's harvest.  The white peony tea from Zhenghe this year is no good, he said.   It was too cold for too long there, and then when the rains finally came, it was too much. This means, that at first the buds didn't grow, and when they did, they grew too fast, here, you can taste it.    We smelled the white peony and it smelled like sweet fruit.  This is a charcoal finished tea so it is generally a little drier and less juicy than white tea from Fuding (most of the white peony in the states can be traced back to Fuding. ) the first steeping clarified what Shi Fu was talking about.  The aroma was of tangerines, but the taste was like wet straw.  Disappointing.  (So unless we can find a Silver Needle white tea that has a better flavor, or something interesting from Fuding, it is unlikely we will be bringing back any white tea.)   He did satisfy our palletes though with a lovely 1995 puerh that we had several steepings of.  We also got a glimpse of  the 1980 Liu Bao we have just adopted.  Two beautiful boxes that Shi Fu acquired from a friend of his for us.  We'll be tasting them in the next couple of days, something I am looking forward to.

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