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Brewing your way to a healthy lifestyle!/ヘルシーライフスタイルの注ぎ方!

My new Chinese "tea friends"!



This was the first tea pot I set my eyes upon.  I was determined to purchase this little treasure, carved and shaped with such intricate details, but was saddened to learn that it was a collection item belonging to the tea shop owner.  At first glance, this "zi sha hu" (purple sand pot) looks as though it is made of stone due to its polished appearance.  However, it is actually made of a very rare color of "zi sha" clay ("zi sha" has several grades and and levels of quality) that the owner claims can no longer be found in China - having been used up for pot making in the area of Yi Xing.  To attain this "glossiness" one is required to "yang" or "look after" the pot on a continuous basis.  This consists of using the pot consistently as well as brushing it frequently with a soft bristled tea brush dipped in hot water.  You can almost compare "caring" for a tea pot to caring for a pet.  This tea pot is now worth a fortune!  Some rare tea pots are turning into highly rewarding investments.

これが僕が最初に目にした急須です。  こんなに複雑な装飾に、このカーブと形をしているなんて・・・僕はこの小さな宝物を購入することに決めました。でもこれがティーショップのオーナーの所有するコレクションだと知って、がっかりしました。一見、この「紫砂壷」には光沢があるので、まるで石で出来ているように見えます。しかし、実際は、「紫砂」という大変珍しい色の土でできているのです(「紫砂」の中にもいくつか質の等級があるのですが)。オーナーが言うには、「紫砂」は宜興"Yi Xing"地区での茶器の製作に使い尽くされてしまって、もう中国では見つけることが出来ないそうです。この「つや」を得るためには、絶え間なく急須を「養」する、つまり「世話をする」ことが必要です。つまり急須を常に使い続けるだけでなく、熱湯に浸した柔らかい養壷筆で何度もブラッシングをするということです。まるでペットをかわいがるように急須を「かわいがる」のです。この急須は今や財産といえるでしょう!非常に高い価値となるものもあります。

One of the staff working in the tea shop demonstrated his skills in Gongfu Cha Dao (Kung Fu tea ceremony) literally meaning "way of brewing tea with great skill".  As you can see from the picture, a variety of tools is required for this particular ritual.


Pu-er tea seen above can be compared to some of the world's finest red wines.  For high quality grades, the longer you keep this tea, the sweeter, better and more valuable it becomes.  Some aged pu-er can cost thousands of Chinese Yuan!  Pu-er tea can either be sold ripened or raw and can be shaped into a variety of different forms, the most common one being in the shape of a disc.  Some of its health benefits include aiding digestion as well as lowering cholesterol levels.


Some of the tea pots above were for sale, some were part of the owner's collection and interestingly some were left behind by VIP clients who asked the owner to help them temporarily "yang" their tea pots on their behalf, as they have too many in their collection at home to look after. 


Here is a beautiful array of tea pots (belonging to clients as well as the owner) used for tea tasting.  The small figurines are actually decorative objects that are also "looked after" during the tea ceremony: which involves brushing them with a wet tea brush and frequently dousing them with hot water.


A colorful display of floral and fruit teas.


Though I normally prefer the Yi Xing ("zi sha" - purple sand) tea pots (originating from the town of Yi Xing in China's eastern Jiangsu province) that naturally build up a coating of the tea's flavor each time they are used, this beautiful white porcelain tea set adorned with its delicate peach tree details did catch my eye. 


This particular tea tray is made of a very rare stone that of this size can easily cost up to CNY 5,000 to CNY 7,000.  Larger pieces like the one used by the owner (3 pictures above) can cost up to CNY 40,000 - CNY 50,000!  The uniqueness and rarity of this particular stone had me wanting to buy one particular piece used by the owner.  But once again, I was disappointed to learn that it actually belonged to a VIP client who asked him to "yang" it.  Apparently, I wasn't the only who had asked for the piece.  Several Japanese clients inquired about it too!

My Experience at the Tea Shop

I have spent a sufficient amount of time in Shanghai now and have fallen under the influence of the philosophy of Chinese therapeutic remedies. What have particularly caught my interest are the remedial benefits of Chinese tea.

Legend has it that tea was first discovered by the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung (both a scholar and herbalist) in 2737 B.C. It is said that whilst resting under a tea tree, waiting for his pot of water to boil, some of its leaves were blown by the wind into the water creating what Shen Nung found to be both an invigorating and refreshing brew. Whether his existence is accurate or not, it can be assumed that tea drinking did in fact exist in China so many years ago.

Being of Italian descent, I normally have the tendency to drink/order an espresso (any other coffee for me simply isn’t coffee). Having spent more time in China however, where tea practically replaces water, my fondness of this heartwarming beverage has grown considerably. Spending much of my time running frantically from meeting to meeting and working long tedious hours, I inevitably turned to green tea to somewhat ease my conscience. It may not be the cure to my stressful lifestyle, but it has been said to have anticarcinogenic effects, to increase the metabolic rate, to boost the immunity system and to help in preventing heart disease. Whether this is true or not, unlike most healthy things, tea is actually delicious.

Not far from my home in Shanghai sits a small tea shop  (as seen in pictures above) that not only offers tea tasting but also sells my favorite Long Jing green tea (literally translated as “Dragon Well” which is a premium green tea originating from the Zhe Jiang province in China). The first time I entered the shop, I was welcomed by the owner as well as some of his VIP clients who were seated around the tea tasting table. Their warm hospitality was overwhelming as they insisted I sit with them to taste a few varieties of tea they were drinking. I was offered a colorful assortment of dried snacks including nuts, dried fruits, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. My soon-to-be new Chinese friends were keen on learning where I came from, what I was doing in life etc. But the most interesting part of the conversation actually began when one of the VIP clients started explaining with such passion - that I can only relate to when I talk about food – about the characteristics and culture of one of China’s proudest discoveries: Tea.

What started as a brief conversation ended up lasting 2 enjoyable hours. I was deeply touched by the sincerity and enthusiasm of my newly found friends.  This experience has taught me that the Chinese people, though still quite conservative by nature, express their passion very openly when it comes to their tea and their cuisine. I now recognize the many similarities between the Italian and Chinese cultures when it comes to talking about their food and their national beverage (for the Chinese, it's their tea and for the Italians, it's their coffee). I am starting to feel very much at home!

The tea shop is located in the Shanghai Bay mall, 1138 Pudong South Road (crossroad of Zhang Yang Road), shop #238 on the 2/F.  Tel: +(86 21) 5010 8018. 





上海の僕の自宅から送遠くないところに、小さなティーショップがあります。(上の写真のお店です。)そこではお茶の試飲だけでなく、僕のお気に入りの"Long Jing green tea"がうっています。初めてお店に入ったとき、オーナーは僕を試飲テーブルの周りに座っているVIPのお客様と同じように迎えてくれました。彼らはすごく親切に僕を歓迎してくれて、自分たちが飲んでいた数種類のお茶を味見するように一生懸命勧めてくれたのです。スナックやナッツ、ドライフルーツ、カボチャやひまわりの種なども沢山出してくれました。僕の中国の友達は、僕がどこから来て何をしているのか興味津々でした。でも彼らとの会話の中で一番興味深かったのは、アルお客さんが、僕が料理の話をするときと同じくらい情熱的に語っていた、中国が最も誇るべき宝物~お茶~の特徴や文化の話でした。ちょっとした挨拶のような会話から始まって、僕たちは2時間も楽しく話していたのです。僕は新しく見つけた友人たちの誠意と熱意に深く感動しました。この経験を通じて僕が学んだのは、中国人はもともとおとなしくて保守的だけど、中華料理屋お茶の話になると、とても生き生きと情熱を表現するということです。中国人とイタリア人の文化について自分の国の料理や飲み物(中国人にとってはお茶、イタリア人にとってはコーヒー)のことになるととても似ているところがあると今では思っています。なんだか故郷にいるような気がし始めているのです。このティーショップの場所は上海市浦東新区浦東南路1138(張楊路との交差点)shanghai Bay mall2Fです。

Here are a few of my rewarding purchases at the tea shop that day...  I too am now starting up my own little collection.


December 4, 2009 |


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