An Unexpected Encounter

There is a tea that will always remind me of my arrival in China, and my first culture shock in a tea house.

Left for China a few weeks before the rest of the family at the very beginning of our expatriation and with only one suitcase, I did not even have the place to add a gaiwan and some tea leaves. The first step to survive, the very evening of my arrival, was obviously to go into a small neighborhood tea shop to buy a cheap gaiwan, a gong dao bei (reserve pot) and a cup. , as well as the grail: one of the worst Wulong Da Hong Pao that I have ever drunk… But without speaking the Chinese, it was already an achievement in the working-class district where I was staying then.

Popular street in Shanghai where my hotel was before I found an apprtment

The second step took place during my first week of work in China . Around me in the open space, a good third of my colleagues had a teapot, a gaiwan or just a brewing cup on the desk, with hot water points and a few kettles available. So I decided to go quickly buy a discreet gaiwan so that I could make myself tea at work without being too noticed (they will get used later to my teapots, my boxes of teas, my cakes that were lying around in the middle of my piles of dossier…)

The day after my arrival, I took advantage of the lunch break to discover a small tea house which had just opened, with a rather Zen, far from the mess at the bottom of a Lilong of the first day, much more welcoming for a European lost in the jungle of popular Shanghai. I found a cheap, easy glass gaiwan there (I had not yet received my first salary and had to live for a few weeks on the renminbi I had exchanged in France). I was offered tea, their first LongJing prize: a completely lost Laowai (a foreigner), couldn't have hoped for better.

I walked around the shop, hoping to find something better, but with the few ideograms at my disposal, I could only hang on to one tea: 水仙 Shui Xian…

I managed to make myself understood as best I could and left with 250g of tea already packed in a kraft pouch and my gaiwan for my second half day of work ...

I still have this first glass easy gaiwan for office brew

When opening the pouch, what a surprise !, in the bag 25 mini tea bricks prepackaged in a plastic bag and paper. Nothing that I expected… It was my first meeting with the Zhang Ping Shui Xian.

Wrapped Zhangping Shuixian

6 years ago in France, nobody had never heard of it. Even in China, hardly anyone knew about this tea ... and that's a mistake. It is a little wonder of flowery and creamy sweetness at first glance. Then the leaves open and the brick comes apart, you let yourself be overwhelmed by the power of this tea, by its roundness and length. We are in the Wulong universe, but we cannot hold on to something familiar. Neither a Tieguanyin or a Dancong, nor a Yancha, even less a Taiwanese ... Flowery and creamy, round and long in the mouth, and very powerful ... a real UFO ...

Zhangping Shuixian mini brick floating in a gaiwan

A curiosity, a rarity ... And no one to tell me what it was ... You have to understand that no one knew this tea in China, and could not confirm that I had well bought a Shui Xian (I only knew the Shui Xian then through their versions in Dancong and Yancha)…

Finally I kept one, and I learned to read Chinese characters. I found the producer. Today, I know three producers in Longyan County where Zhang Ping Shui Xian is produced. And each offers a tea with a very different character.

This year, for the opening of the store, we are offering you this first Zhang Ping Shui Xian, this rarity original and which preceded all our other discoveries in China…


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