Written by 安德雷
It’s been one of the hot questions around the world for the last few decades: tea or coffee – which is better? I will not try to provide an answer, since it all goes down to personal tastes and affinities, however, I will try to shed some light on the ongoing trends, with a few advices attached.
Tea originates from China, as it is widely known. It’s been around for several thousands of years and Chinese love it. No wonder though, since there is dozens, maybe even hundreds of different types and fragrances. More so, Hangzhou is one of China’s tea capitals with it’s fabulous Long Jing. Actually, it’s hard to find any other sort except for Long Jing in here – it’s loved that much. On the other hand, as China started to unfold and link up with the west, coffee came into the spotlight as a trendy new beverage for the young and rich. I’m quite convinced that coffee reached China centuries before, and yet, it never really caught on until recently. Coffee shops, bars and Starbucks-es are sprouting like mushrooms, with many of them packed full 24/7. So, how come a country of tea developed such an obsession with coffee? Major reason for this trend is of course the new vogue: Like coffee was a posh thing back in the 18th and 19th century Europe, so it is now days in China. Visiting Starbucks isn’t just going out for a drink – it’s a lifestyle. The ironic thing though is that coffee in China is of very poor quality, often overpriced. In fact, it is up to several times more expensive than anywhere in Europe. Of course, Chinese got to know the charms of coffee quite recently and very few of them can actually tell a good rich grain apart from the sac-bottom scrapings. As a result of this phenomenon, coffee traders are having a whole year long carnivale ongoing in their wallets. Funny enough, a similar situation reflects upon Europe: Excluding Great Britain, tea has reached European cups in significant amounts only few decades a go. My father is a big aficionado of the leaf, but even the best tea he could get his hand on was rather wretched compared to anything merely average here in China. It’s practically impossible to find high quality tea. Europeans don’t know much about it, nor they have the skill to differentiate good stuff from last year’s remains. I guess it makes sense… One is best at his own craft. Still, tea remains China’s No.1 choice, and it should stay that way.
So, how to find good tea? As mentioned before, this is Hangzhou, a center of Long Jing – one of the most famous green tea brands. Going to Long Jing Village would be the best option I assume, but there are other alternatives as well. It’s hard not to notice tea shops on almost every corner. They all sell decent tea for most part. However, don’t forget that Hangzhou is a major tourist hub where trade, including tea, is predominantly oriented towards guests and outsiders. This might affect the quality, but more importantly, the cost. Leaves offered in many shops usually hold a higher price than any local would dare to pay. So why should You? Solution – Tea market (茶叶市场). There might be others too, though so far I only know of one in You Sheng Guan Road (佑圣观路), between Jie Fang Road (解放路) and Qing Tai Street (清泰街). If You’re searching for very good leaves with a normal price – that’s the place to go: Dozens of small shops with many sorts of tea and of course, the unavoidable bargaining. Enjoy~
One likes what he or she likes. I won’t argue with that. Still, I’d strongly recommend tea over coffee for two major reasons:
– Coffee in China is generally crummy, overpriced or often both.
– You’re in a land of tea! Use that opportunity and treat Yourself with something new. It’s worth it.