A small tea shop run by a passionate owner. Right now you may not know what Tie Guan Yin is, but you'll be an expert by the time you leave!
It's obvious, isn't it? Tea originates in China. It's still the most popular beverage in the country, drunk by millions (billions?) on a daily basis.
But if you think tea means Lipton or Earl Grey, then China may overwhelm you with more choice than you could ever imagine. So if you're a tea novice, a quick introduction (and tasting) will help you navigate the myriad choices of Chinese tea.
Ms. Wan Ling, a native of Fujian province, will be your tasting guide, helping you to discover one of China's most refined teas: Tie Guan Yin, Fujian's finest.
At the edge of the French Concession, not far from Nanjing Xi Lu. Map.
GOING TO CHINA and not drinking tea is like travelling to France and not trying the local wine. Why would you want to miss out?
But for many non-Chinese, tea is black and either Lipton or Earl Grey. Which is a bit like going to France and asking for Arbor Mist with your Boeuf Bourguignon. You poor foreign devil...
|Hint: this is not Earl Grey.|
For a gentler induction, drop in at the Wan Ling Tea House, where owner Wan Ling and her husband James will introduce you to China's finest, in fluent English to boot, and proffer you small cups of infused Camellia Sinensis until your bladder is at bursting point...
|Tea Maestro Wan Ling|
|There! There's where we got it!|
|A cupful of heavenly Tie Guan Yin leaves.|
Need some 'oomph' in your cuppa? Fear not. Try some of the Pu-erh, cakes of aged and matured tea leaves that develop into complex brews with heavy notes... sometimes likened to the pungent smell of a muddy cellar. An acquired taste perhaps, but certainly different!
|Cakes of Pu-erh sitting pretty.|
|A rare green Pu-erh- warning: cheap it ain't. We're talking Dom Perignon-type prices here...|
And of course, should you want to take some home, they'll be happy to help you make a selection from the wares on offer, whether it's a subtlly perfumed Tie Guan Yin or a delightfully muddy Pu-erh, or anything in between...
|The final drop.|
You'll find Wan Ling Tea House at the edge of the French Concession, spitting distance from several metro stations. For example line 7 to Zhaojiazhang Road and then it is a five minute walk from there. Taxis are cheap and abundant. Flash this card with Chinese characters to your driver.
Wan-Ling's official website is here.
You'll notice most of the site is dedicated to e-commerce, shipping tea around the world- if you fall in love with any of the brews you can replenish from home!