Red Circle Tea

Adventure to Suzhou in search of Bi Lo Chun

We finished our business with Ms Lee sooner than we thought and decided to head out to Suzhou, where one of China’s other 10 famous teas grows: Bi Lo Chun, or, Green Snail Spring. Suzhou is about 2-3 hours north of Hangzhou as the crow flies. Of course, this is China, and whatever kind of bird they have here, it not a crow. We actually had to take the train to Shanghai and transfer to Suzhou. That’s like going from San Francisco to Sacramento via Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the infrastructure in China is still – we’ll put it diplomatically – developing. Fortunately, it was the bullet train and it only took 4 hours.

We arrived and were greeted with grey skies, whipping wind, and the staccato voices of “dik-see dik-see dik-see” or taxi in Chinese. We refused because the people calling out are offering unlicensed taxi service. It was absolutely arctic weather in Suzhou and the wind was blowing so hard it was difficult to walk. I’ve never experienced such cold weather in the spring here, and got a feeling for what must have happened in early March, a horrible cold snap. I was in Seattle this winter when it snowed and Suzhou was colder than that. It made me worry about this year’s Bi Lo Chun harvest. We hopped in a green taxi from the street and headed out to our hotel, the Home Inn, the knockoff of Best Western. It was actually pretty nice, for a 2 star Chinese hotel. We went for dinner and had a fantastic bowl of noodle soup with lamb, with a side of lamb short ribs – delicious and warming in this cold. It was nearing 5 pm, so we went back to the hotel to rest for the evening and plan the next day’s adventure to Golden Mountain in Lake Tai.

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