Saturday, January 10, 2015

"...for all the tea in China!"

Breakfast and luggage down to the lobby.  Boarded the buses promptly and at 9 a.m. off we were to a visit to the Tea Mountain area just outside of Hangzhou.  The Hangzhou area is proud of its reputation as being the home to the best tea in China and a silk center as well.....but we're saving silk for Shanghai - today, it's all about tea!

Rolling hills, thousands of tea bushes!
We drove through this enormous city once again - must have taken an hour or so to get to the West Lake area and then another fifteen minutes to head through the woods up to a drop off spot where 95% of them (I can't say "us" as I didn't go!) got off the bus.  The group walked up "Tea Mountain," an area of rolling hills with literally thousands of tea bushes.  The walk/hike was to some grueling and to others exhilirating, but they all ended up in the village of Meizhou for lunch in a real, honest-to-goodness authentic local restaurant.  If you needed to use the restroom
Megan Minatra introduces Flat Ole to a tea bush.
here, you walked through the kitchen.......and if you went before lunch, you thought twice about wanting to eat.....yet the old addage of "what you don't know won't hurt you" rang true and the food was outstanding!

After lunch, we took in the Longjing Village area - the home of China's most famous varieties of green tea (Dragon Well).  Our guide, Daisy, explained how bushes grow, how they are picked, when the "best" tea is picked (April) and how the worst goes to, you guessed it, the USA.  :-)  We watched how the tea is sorted, dried and produced into grades which, of course, affect the price.

Next, we were treated to some very interesting information about how to enjoy tea in a classroom setting, live with demonstrations of tea varieties and the proper way to drink it.  At times, this class felt like an infomercial, but it was fun as the person leading the talk was really engaging.....and she managed to sell quite a bit of tea to us!  No wonder she was hired!

The students had their first experience with trying to exit a tourist stop through the giftshop.....and again, some of them had a harder time than others......but everyone had a good time.

Back on the bus, and off to Shanghai, a drive of about three hours.  Dinner at a native Tai restaurant (one of the 53 "nationalities" of China).   Again, great food, some dancers and the chance to see some of our own students dance the "Chop stick" dance?  I can't recall the name of it - you use bamboo poles and bang them togehter while people try to jump through....anyway, it was fun! 

Tomorrow, Shanghai and a visit to a university for a joint concert and exchange. 

Temps today, 55 degrees.  Partly sunny skies. 

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