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Beijing pictures, Inside of a purple clay tea cup

Purple clay from the county of Yixing is considered the best natural material for making tea sets. Their purple clay teapots can abundantly release your tea's aroma and keep it from going tasting bad better than any other material.


On my visit to Chayuan Tea City at the south end of Maliandao Tea Street yesterday afternoon, I found some user-friendly purple clay tea cups in a shop (No. A2-10) named Qingyi, which literally means "Affection" in English.


As I set my eyes upon the tea cups shown on the shelves, a shop assistant started telling me about the twelve Chinese zodiac animal cups originally designed by the shopkeeper, Mr. Chen.


I picked up a chocolate-colored one with a miniature rooster on the cover. When I opened the lid, to my surprise, I found a purple clay interlayer stuck in the middle. Inside stood another miniature rooster. This layer has many small, round holes that allow tea to pass through and keep the leaves at the bottom. So don¡¯t worry about accidently drinking any leaves.


Prices for all of their tea cups range from 20 to 120 yuan. For teapots, the prices vary greatly by quality, from 50 to 16,000 yuan. In addition, you can find a variety of tea ceremony accessories, and some famous Chinese teas too.


Another middle-aged shopkeeper used to be a tour guide, and can speak English.


What I appreciated

Purple clay tea cups originally designed by shop keeper, reasonable prices


What customers appreciate

User-friendly purple clay tea cups, Chinese teas and tea sets

Beijing pictures, Tea bestowed by the Goddess of Mercy

Tieguanyin tea, originated from Anxi in south China's Fujian province, is a famous Oolong tea named after the Buddhist saint Guanyin, or Goddess of Mercy. Like other Oolong teas, Tieguanyin¡¯s taste comes in between green tea and black tea.

Tian Ran Xiang teashop is an exclusive seller of Tieguanyin tea on Beijing' Maliandao street. The shop owner, Ms Sun, is a born in the town famous for this type of tea. When I visited the shop, she was drinking Tieguanyin tea, saying it helped her lose weight.

Back in Sun's hometown, there are many legend behind this tea. The most popular legend is about a farmer called Wei Yin. Wei voluntarily cleaned a temple in which had an iron statue of Guanyin. Touched by his kind heart, Guanyin appeared in his dream, telling him of a cave behind the temple, where a treasure awaited him. That treasure was the Tieguanyin tree.

At Tian Ran Xiang, I saw various colorful packages of Tieguanyin. Ms Sun also showed me some loose Tieguanyin. The leaves are rolled into small tubes and then dried, for simple storage and consumption. According to different quality, tea price varies from RMB 30 per 500g to over thousand yuan per 500g.

You can bargain with the owner, but she can't speak much English. So be sure to bring pen and paper.

What I appreciate:
Various kinds of Tieguanyin

What Customer Appreciate:
Large selection of Tieguanyin at various levels of prices

Beijing pictures, Yunnan Products Shop

At the southwest corner of Hou Hai, a popular tourist area, lies a small shop, carrying the local products from southwest China¡¯s Yunnan province. The façade of the shop is reminiscent of Old Beijing, with grey bricks and a yellow signboard hanging above the door.


As soon as I got into the shop, I noticed some Pu¡¯er tea shaped into round flat cake. It¡¯s called Bing Cha, or cake tea. The brands are all some of the best, such as Da Yi and Long Sheng. Prices for these healthful tea range from 68 yuan to 268 yuan each. Also on display are gift boxes of Pu¡¯er tea, which is a popular gift item.


Before there was instant ramen, there was "Cross-bridge Rice Noodles", a famous dish in Yunnan, where all the ingredients are mixed into the noodle soup right before it's served. The shop sells the rice noodles used for this dish at 6.5 yuan per 500 g.


Another thing that caught my eye was the Bamboo Tube Liquor. The particular liquor had a beautiful bamboo tube packaging, and cost 48 yuan for the 1 liter bottle.


Other goods on sale included local snacks like roast beef and preserved vegetables.


What I appreciated

Characteristic Yunnan specialties


What customers appreciate

Yunnan local products, local features

Beijing pictures, 'Longsheng' cake tea

If you want to buy some Chinese tea, I highly recommend Pu'er tea due to its great health benefits, such as losing weight, lowering blood fat, and nourishing stomach.


At the southeast of Xuanwumen lies a Yunnan Pu'er Tea City. Outside the building you can notice a sign on a window writes "Longsheng", a big brand famous for Pu'er tea. The company owns some of the largest tea mountains in China. They are so famous even the president Hu Jintao personally visited their organic tea base on Yingpan Mountain. When it comes to quality, Longshen is second to none.


Inside the outlet, I found each of their goods attached with a price tag. The shop assistant told me that the prices are the same nationwide. They have a wide range of compressed tea for customers to choose from. A cake tea usually weighs 357 grams, and its price starts from 50 yuan. Tuo Cha (bun-shaped tea) looked lovely. A 250-gram grade A package cost 96 yuan. Yinya Tuo Cha, or Silver Sprout Pu¡¯er Tea, had many tea sprouts with white tiny fluff. Its grade was higher than the previous one, and priced at 150 yuan per piece (250 g).


The outlet also carries jasmine tea, organic green tea and oolong tea made in Yunnan.


What I appreciated

Quality Pu'er tea, famous brand


What customers appreciate

Healthful Pu¡¯er tea, reliable quality


Like red wine, Pu'er tea produced in the tropic area of Yunnan Province gets better with age. Known as "medicinal tea", it can help reduce cholesterol and lower your weight.

Da De Sheng Cha Hao, a tea shop in Ma Lian Dao street offers the quality Pu'er tea. Entering the shop, I was first attracted by those unique packages. Some are packed with paper, some are with cloth, and some are held in the bamboo-made basket. The owner told me the different packages of Pu'er tea meant these teas were produced in different times, as his shop offers Pu'er tea from the past 20 years.

One type of package I liked is called "Qi Zi Bing", which literally means "seven pieces of cake". Because each package contains seven pieces of tea, and shaped like a cake.

Another package is in the shape of bricks. They are very hard, and requires a knife to cut out the tea leaves. This is a traditional form of packaging for Pu'er tea, as it allows for easier transport from the mountains where they're made, to the towns where they're sold

Prices vary from RMB 50 to RMB 250 per 100 grams.

What I appreciate:
Quality Pu'er tea with various types

What customers appreciate:
Healthy Pu'er tea at reasonable prices

Beijing pictures, Zhangyiyuan Tea House near Zhushikou

Zhangyiyuan, which was established in 1900, is a China¡¯s time-honored brand for tea. With their own tea plantation in southeastern China¡¯s Fujian Province, Zhangyiyuan has been providing top-quality teas to both domestic and overseas customers. One of its numerous outlets in Beijing is on Zhushikou West Street, at the center of the capital.


It¡¯s hard to miss the shop, as you¡¯ll see a huge red sign in English ¡°Zhangyiyuan Tea House, since 1900.¡± Soft aroma of teas greets every visitor upon entering. Their jasmine tea is the most popular among Beijingers. There are more than a dozen types, priced from RMB 30 to 500 per 500g.


You can find other great teas here as well. The famous Longjing Green Tea, which literally means ¡®Dragon Well¡¯, is priced from RMB 130 to 4200 yuan per 500g. While the heavy Tie Guanyin tea sells for RMB 580 to 2800.


You can also find some purple clay tea sets on display.


What I appreciated

Quality tea, time-honored brand


What customers appreciate

High quality Chinese teas, well-known brand in Beijing

Beijing pictures, Tao Cha Ju Tea shop

In tea shops, when you see tea compressed into a variety of shapes, like cakes, bowls, or brick, the tea is undoubtedly Pu'er tea from Yunnan. You may find it strange. But it's to aid in transportation, as Pu'er tea comes from the high mountains.

Tao Cha Ju is filled with a collection of Pu'er cakes on the shelves. The shop owner, Mr Xiao, told me that all his teas are collected from ancient tea trees in natural forests of Yunnan. The 100% natural Pu'er tea helps aid digestion, reduce the risk of cancer, and lower cholesterol.

Pu'er tea has a very unique taste. It was said to have developed because transportation in ancient times took weeks until it reached town. During this period, the tea leaves would begin to ferment in the humidity and release a strong, fragrant aroma.

Thus, Pu'er tea became unique in that it tastes better after fermenting. This is in direct contrast with other teas, which are best drank soon after it's dried. Some connoisseurs would to pay millions for 100-year-old Pu'er teas.

Though 100-year-old Pu'er teas are almost impossible to find on the market any more, you can still find 2 to 10 year old Pu'er at Mr. Xiao's shop. Price for a round two-year-old Pu'er cakes (357g) is about RMB 150.

What I Appreciate:
Natural Pu'er tea
What customer appreciate:
Good price and service

Beijing pictures, Dingyun white tea

You may familiar with green tea and red tea, but how about white tea? The best white teas look like tiny white hairs, and give the tea a pale look.

Ding Yun, located on the famou Ma Lian Dao tea street, sells white tea exclusively. The shop owner, Mr Chen, has a huge plantation on the foot of Tai Mu Mountain in Fuding, where they've been growing white tea for 200 years.

When it comes to white tea, Mr Chen could talk forever."There is a fairy tale in my hometown. Long time ago, a girl, named Lan Gu, lived on the foot of Tai Mu mount. One year, an unknown disease killed many children in the village. To save the village, a god told Lan Gu in her dream to pick up the leaves in a cave on Tai Mu Mountain to help the children. The children were then saved. Afterwards, the village started to plan these leaves, which now became the white tea."

Ding Yun carries different types of white tea, such as Bai Hao Yinzhen, Bai Mu Dan and Shou Mei. Bai Hao Yinzhen is widely considered the best among them. All white teas are low in caffeine, and are believed to have good anti-viral and anti-bacterial qualities.

The longer preserved white tea has more value. For example, 2004 Bai Hao Yinzhen is sold at RMB 800 per 500g. While 2005 tea costs half the price.

What I Appreciate:
Good white tea

What customer appreciate:
Large selection of different white tea


Following the aroma of tea on Ma Lian Dao Street, I came to Man Tang Xiang, a large tea shop holding many types of famous teas, as well as exquisite tea sets. Entering the gate of Man Tang Xiang, I was astonished at its size. It occupied the whole fourth floor of the Beijing International Tea Town building.

What I really liked was how Man Tang Xiang offered details for each tea type they sell, including beautiful legends and history. For example, take the tea Da Hong Pao, which literally means "red robe". The name originated from a red-robed scholar, who miraculously recovered from his illness after he drank this tea.

In one section of Man Tang Xiang, I took notice of the green tea with a very clear green color. Its straight leaves look like the leaves of bamboos. It's called Zhu Ye Qing, and made in the famou Emei Mountain of Sichuan Province.

In addition to teas, they also offer tea sets. The most extraordinary tea sets were made of jade. It's said that jade could purify the water to make the tea more tasteful.

If you're tired after looking around, sit down at the cozy teahouse to experience the colorful tea culture. You, may also choose to read in the tea museum, or enjoy live classical Guzheng music performances at the music section.

Teas cost from anywhere from RMB 30 to RMB 1000 per 100 grams.

What I appreciate:
Splendid tea culture exhibition

What customers appreciate:
Various famous tea offered at reasonable price


Wuyuan, known as the most beautiful village in China, is also famous for its great-tasting green tea. I recently visited Gui Shi Shao Cha, a tea shop on Ma Lian Dao Street with quality green tea from this beautiful village.

When I entered the shop, a hospitable shop assistant greeted me. She showed me several types of green tea. The one name that jumped out at me was the "Lu Mountain Cloud and Mist Tea." This tea comes from the Lu Mountains, where clouds and mists cover its peaks year round. The large tea leaves are twisted with a delicate jade green color.

The shop assistant brewed a glass for me. She said to use water at about 80 degrees Celsius, and you can smell its sweet mountain aroma. The leaves can be brewed four times. The second or third the third time usually tastes the best.
Another type of green tea is called "Gou Gu Nao", which literally means "a dog head". This tea is also named after its mountain, one with a funny peak that looks like a dog's head.

Prices of the green tea vary from RMB 40 per 100 grams to RMB 70 per 100 grams.

What I appreciate:
Green tea grows in the mountainous area without pollution

What customers appreciate:
Quality green tea

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Beijing Shopping: Purple clay from the county of Yixing is considered the best natural material for making tea sets. Their purple clay teapots can abundantly release your tea's aroma and keep it from going tasting bad ...