Here in Hangzhou, everyone has their own ideas about tea. Tourists go there. Locals go here. The best time is April. The best time is March. It costs 1000RMB per kilo. You shouldn’t pay more than 300RMB a kilo. And so on. Of course, no one even asks what kind of tea you’re looking for. You will be sampling and buying the famous West Lake Longjing (or Dragonwell) tea.
Today, I set out to find the best of the best tea on earth. As instructed by Angela Chen, a friend of the family, my mission was to find a Ms. Qi and buy one kilo of the finest, freshest Longjing tea. This time of year before the rains come mean that tea is very young. This year, the very cold winter in Hangzhou means that the leaves are extra small.
But my adventure began in trying to find Ms. Qi. I found myself at 11 Longjing Street and gave Ms. Qi a call on her cell. She said she come down to meet me. Fantastic. As it turns out, Longjing Street is actually Longjing Country Road. So, after two trips on the bus, Ms. Qi found me by pulling up in a white car and taking me to her house. She threw a huge sack of tea on the plastic picnic table, opened it up and I could smell the leaves from about 5 or 6 feet away. I had a cup, and another and another. Wow, that’s really good tea.
Ms. Qi remembered Angela with fondness but had a hard time with the fact that I was not her son. So I was simply just referred as her son and the conversation as such. I was invited to lunch which was excellent. I purchased tea and was on my way. Not bad for a day off work. See what happens when I don’t have my weekly tests this week?