January 4, 2015
Sunday evening in a chilly Shanghai. It's 7pm, my plane from Bangkok just touched ground.
The calendar reminds me that in one a half hour I have to be at Longyan road for dinner. I rush through the passport control and jump on the Maglev train for a 300 kmh ride to downtown. On daytime it would be 430 kmh.
In the restaurant I meet Michela, arrived in the morning from Europe, and some friends.
After dinner we treat ourselves with a 2008 Bai Hao Yin Zhen and go to bed to save energy for the next day.
January 5, 2015
In the morning a warming sun shines over the city; the feeling is of an early spring day. Walking outside is almost pleasant, if just the air wouldn't be so polluted.
China is different than any other countries I have being travelling. Everything is more difficult and intricate here. Even the easiest task can get to your nerves; like setting up your phone. In China Google, and all its services like maps and emails, are blocked by the government. A VPN is necessary to communicate with the rest of the world and simplify our journey. After hours of attempts, we finally set it up and could start the day.
We spend this first day in China meeting tea friends and shopping teaware.
We first visit the teashop of Z.Q., a small, tidy room packed with tea and teaware and still so elegant and neat. Z.Q. is a quite, young lady with a relaxing attitude towards life. Despite the communication problems –her English is just about better than my Chinese… and I don’t speak Chinese– she makes you always feel confortable.
We met Z.Q. last year, noticing her shop among many for the quality of the teaware and the refined interior design. No kitsch on the window display, only selected items with a focus on the details. The tea, as the teaware, is also carefully selected. So we quickly ended up being one of her customers.
We drink some tea with Z.Q. and after lunch we move onward to the next tea friend.
C. delights us with three Taiwan oolong teas. 1) Shanlinxi, spring 2014: a delicate yet intense high mountain tea with a floral-orchid taste. 2) Dong Fang Mei Ren (Oriental Beauty), summer 2012: a pleasant liquor with clear peach notes, but to be honest we have tasted better DFMR. 3) Dong Ding, spring 2013: The first infusion is weak, but the second reveals its full body. We both buy some Shanlinxi and Dong Ding for personal use.
Tea and teaware share the table with a cricket in a cage. Growing crickets and lightning bugs in cages is an ancient Chinese and Japanese habit to enjoy their sound and light. Ill-treatment of animals is still an unknown concept in China.
January 6, 2015
Tuesday morning, bad timing. We get stuck in the traffic jam. The streets are full of cars, the subways stations overcrowded. An electrician does balancing act while fixing electric cables. Safety at work is obviously not a major concern here.
During the day we complete some orders and pack teaware to be sent to Europe. Among others, we have ordered some gaiwan, cups and tasting teasets decorated with the nannuoshan logo. In the evening, after a day of work, we can relax and drink some tea. In the next days we wil go to Anxi, the home of tieguanyin, a famous oolong tea. So we decide go in a tieguanyin shop to refresh our mind the flavor of this tea. The owner, a calm and smiling man in his middle forty, comes for the Xiping, a village famous for tieguanyin production.
Tomorrow we will head south to Fuzhou, the capital of the Fujian province. The next day we will proceed to Anxi and spend there one or two days to taste tieguanyin.
Written by Gabriele (in the meanwhile in Fuzhou)