Tea Focus - Maliandao Tea Street
The Chinese capital is overflowing with attractions, but for tea connoisseurs, thirsty locals and savvy visitors, Maliandao Tea Street is first port of call, buzzing with throngs of activity from dawn to dusk. Be warned too that the word ‘street’ may seem innocent enough, but in fact this is a Beijing-sized avenue stretching over a mile, boasting over 1,000 shops, with vendors peddling more than 500 types of tea, from dirt-cheap to wallet-puncturing rare varietals. It can be an overwhelming experience, but if you love a cuppa, then it’s worth wading through the leaves for a taste of the best cha in China.
For delicate white teas from the southern Fujian province, head to Tianhu Tea Company, where leaves are cultivated from their 100-hectare organic plantation in Taimu Mountain. If you prefer Fujianese black teas, you can’t go wrong with the rare, smoky Lapsang Souchong black tea from Mr. Liu at Jishifang. There’s standout Taiwanese Oolong at Taiwan Tianbaoyang Mingcha in the four-story Cha Cheng (Tea City), while Durdas has some of the best prized Keemun black tea from Anhui province, and choice Huangshan Chrysanthemum as well. And in addition to leaves, there are plenty of teapots and ceramic or cloisonné sets to be found, making a great gift for loved ones back home. Put the kettle on, and let the brew ha ha begin!