Melancholic and picturesque, cloudy and rainy, this place was the next destination for us, the Long Jing tea lovers.
China is a country of musical therapy – even if you enter to the main overcrowded central train station in Beijing, where thousands of people are making their way through kilometers every second, the chillout music from the high ceilings will make you feel that this is all happening in slow motion. Every bus or train will entertain you with various musical genres all along the road, finishing with some cheerful happy track 5 minutes before arrival.
However, upon arriving to Hangzhou I would expect to hear a long ambient track with water samples, lasting 30 minutes at least. Hangzhou is always cloudy (and rainy) – almost no point to shoot color films here :) Soft contrast makes it best, while expressing the calm atmosphere on the main city walkways.
We’ve arrived by the train from Shanghai (3 hours if I remember well) right into the night and had reserved a room in Wushanyi International Youth Hostel From the first glance the place had appeared as a bit cold and a bit less comfortable then our room in Shanghai hotel (still, the price was more or less from the same range), but at this hour we had no other place to go and stayed after a very friendly talk with the local stuff representative.
In the morning we took our first quiet walk around the legendary West Lake which is the main (but absolutely not the only reason) to come to Hangzhou. Peaceful and relaxing, surrounded by parks and ponds and crossed by bridges and boats, the lake is a true inspiration for composers and poets.
It’s a rich city and all the museums are for free! Well, but somehow in this place we’ve preferred to explore the surroundings and got the best information ever from the youth hostel girls. Moreover, it got severely colder in the room and the air conditioner could not make it warm, doing its best so ahead of all we were proposed for an additional heater (that was taken from the reception desk!) – I admit – we couldn’t refuse.
Following my deep and honest interest in Chinese tea, a guy called Song took us to Mei Jia Wu village The village is the best place to taste and buy Long Jing tea (龙井茶) that perfectly grows in the humid atmosphere of 1500 millimeters rainfall annually. Song’s friend Zhu Chang Jian is one of the village farmers, he owns that big hill, covered with tea bushes and trees (trees are older :).
We’ve tasted various types of traditional Long Jing tea comparing the smell, taste and aftertaste :) There are lots of parameters that no tea reseller will be able to tell exactly, such as the altitude of the tea hill, the age of the tea trees, the time of tea cropping (yeah, the most expensive Long Jing tea needs to be harvested in the last days of March). Do you know that it takes 3 years to learn 10 hand movements to become a professional Long Jing tea harvester? (this excellent article explains more on the harvesting and preparing of Long Jing tea)
Speaking on the tea subject, one simply can’t skip the name of the first Chinese tea scholar Lu Yu The Classic of Tea is the first well-known book about tea. The book looks much similar to the… Wikipedia articles :) It “simply” tells the fact about the tea. Tons of facts. The book is subdivided into 10 chapters that precisely describe tea manufacturing and brewing processes, tell how to prepare and to drink tea, address you the places in China that various tea grows and even contains a chapter about tea anecdotes.
Had I told you that I’ve bought a new glasses in Shanghai? Well, the mount was perfect, but one of the lenses should be changed. Luckily, the local branch of the same glasses network LensCrafters needed some extra day to receive the fixed product from Shanghai, so we’ve followed to the additional perfect destination – the Longmen Village
We became real friends with the hostel stuff and even were invited to a birthday party :) The first floor of the place got reconstructed right upon our eyes, turning into a very cozy lobby.
Meanwhile, we were told that a few hundred kilometers to the West there is a place, famous by another classic Chinese tea (called Maofeng) and is also one of the most visited Chinese touristic spots. Yep, its Huang Shan – Yellow Mountain. So stay tuned for the tea legends, panoramic views and… Italian wine stories!