Wednesday, June 2, 2010

We Drink a Lot of Tea

So after a long day of touring Shanghai (remember, we saw a museum, a silk shop, a jade emporium, the zoo, and a garden all in one day) we were pretty tired and ready to relax for a bit, so Jessica took us to a tea shop not too far away from the Yuyuan Gardens. Right outside the gardens I saw this:

which I thought was fun, it's kind of like a reptilian horse kind of feng shui animal but I don't know what it's called. Here's the street that was right outside the garden:

And we couldn't hear ANY of this from inside the garden, that's the amazing bit. So anyway, back to tea. We went up to this little tea shop (that I think also sold pearls, but we didn't look at the pearls) and learned a lot about tea from this lady:

who looks like she's doing jazz hands but I'm sure she's making a very important point about tea. Then we got to try several different kinds.

The first one is jasmine tea, which is a type of green tea I think? I could be wrong, I should have taken better notes. Regardless, the first tea started out looking like a watermelon-striped ball of dried leaves, and after she put the tea leaves in the water, it came out looking like that because it's a flower tea. Kind of hard to get a good photo with the reflection from the glass teapot, but what can you do. It was really neat--there was a picture with all the different kinds of flower teas and what they look like when you put them in hot water. Bennet and Missy bought some of this, and they mixed up several different flower teas in the package they got so it'll be a surprise every time they make one. They also got the nifty glass teapot which has a strainer in the spout (you can kind of see the metal coil).

And let me just tell you how amazing those little cups were. It was like a small cup inside of a larger one, but it was all one piece with a vacuum in between, so you could pour steaming hot tea in the cup but you wouldn't get burned at all from picking it up. Totally fabulous. Oh, see the jar on the left? That's what the flower tea looks like to start with. We were told that you can make several pots of tea with one flower and then put cold water on it and it will keep for about a week as a decoration.

Next we got to try oolong tea, my favorite.

She made the oolong tea in a clay pot and kept pouring hot water over the top of it because she said you want the outside of the teapot to be the same temperature as the inside. This one was also served in little clay cups and smelled heavenly.

What I liked so much about the oolong though was that it had a totally unexpected sweet aftertaste. It was fabulous. We had already had at least three cups of the jasmine tea and got about two or three oolong, I could have drank an entire pot all by my onesies. Lee and I bought some but so far we have not been able to replicate the taste of the oolong at home with our own teapot...Lee thinks maybe he's making the water too hot or something.

Some of the different types of teas, they all smelled fabulous. I couldn't stop sniffing that one between the flower tea and the yellow-looking stuff, it smelled so yummy. You can see a little bit about the flower teas in the lower right of that picture too; unfortunately I didn't take a picture of the whole thing.

So there's the black tea, which I didn't really write too much about in my handy dandy little notebook. I think I liked the taste of it better than the jasmine flower tea, but the jasmine was the prettiest to look at. This experience was enough to convince me to drink tea at breakfast pretty much every morning for the rest of our stay in China :)

So after that, our first day was pretty much done. Jessica dropped us off at our hotel and then we went out on our own for dinner and were very adventurous (read: we ate at McDonald's). Then we went up to our hotel rooms on the 18th floor:

Pretty nice, huh? Sorry about the weird lighting, but we didn't think to take pictures of the room in daylight. You can just barely see me over in the right corner, sitting in front of the curtains.

I'd never stayed in a 5-star hotel before, I think we'll be spoiled for our next vacation if we're back to staying in the cheapy places :)

Totally cracks me up that Missy and Bennet took pictures of the bathroom in their hotel room. While I'm on the hotel pictures, here's where we checked in:

And this was what we saw in the lobby:

The entire hotel was beautiful. Anyway, after we went upstairs, Lee took some pictures of the city at night.

This building was a Russian something or other (yep, I'm so specific).

That on the left is a truly massive Louis Vuitton suitcase out in front of a mall that was next to our hotel.

Photo down the street taken from our hotel. Here's what the city looked like during the day:

Lots of skyscrapers. This is kind of how I imagine New York...crazy, I've been to Shanghai but never New York.

There's that Louis Vuitton suitcase again...

And Missy and me in front of it. The second day we were in China, we had the morning to ourselves so we just walked around a little bit from our hotel. Saw lots of malls and places to shop, mostly high-end shops too. Then Jessica and the driver picked us up to take us to the airport, so we got a photo with her before we flew off to our second stop:

And there you have it, that was our whirlwind tour of Shanghai.


Thoughts by B and M said...

We need to have a tea party! Pixiu!

CCsMom said...

Wow -- I'm learning something new every day. I'm glad you liked the tea in China -- better than that stuff they had us make in Naha?! That tea was VERY STRONG.

Had a great time in California, but I'm TIRED, TIRED. So glad to sleep in my own bed tonight. Love you!!! Mom