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Thursday, March 23, 2017

All the Tea in China

The only high key tea culture that I have spent time with before is in England, where afternoon tea is more about the meal and the desserts, all doled out in very small quantities, and less about the tea (although that too is important).  In China, the tea is front and center, and the snacks are a distant second, and the emphasis is on salty and savory more than on sweets.  At the tea house in the Yuyuan Garden there were two memorable nibbles that came with the tea.  The first is tea soaked hard boiled quail eggs.  These were so delicious that they bordered on addictive.  The smallness of the quail eggs makes the flavoring more pervasive in the overall flavor, which is a very good thing.  The other was a very firm and slightly salty tofu snack, which had a distinctive flavor that was at first unfamiliar but quickly became hard to resist.  The tea is spectacular.  The herbal options hydrate beautiful flowers that float like under water anemones in the pot, and the flavors of all the teas are fresh and robust and unusual. 

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