Tea Market

We are back in Shenzhen for a couple of days and had a very busy day today! We enjoyed getting to see many friends throughout the day J In the afternoon, we went to the Nanshan Tea Market. Since I love tea, of course I love tea markets! After my post about a week ago, I decided that I wanted to try honeysuckle tea. The nice thing about tea markets is that you can sit and taste the tea before buying it. The stores all have tea tables and are more than glad to make you a few different kinds to try. We sampled the honeysuckle tea (in the front white dish) and also some black tea (in the back metal dish). The tea you see in the cups is honeysuckle tea. I’ve always had women making the tea the times before, but this man spoke some English, so his wife stood back and he took care of us. I bought a large tin full of honeysuckle flower tea for 85rmb, or $13usd, it’s enough to last quite a while! Photo credit goes to Leah today

Honeysuckle Drink

Honeysuckle is called Jinyin hua in Chinese. “Jinyin hua” literally translates as “gold silver flower,” because when the flowers first bloom, they are white (silver) then turn yellow (gold). Last week when we went to Walmart, we saw the dried flowers for honeysuckle tea, which is popular in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Then yesterday, we saw these cans and bottles of a honeysuckle drink. Leah said that the Chinese character after honeysuckle means “alcohol” (Hmmm, honeysuckle wine? Not for 3.5rmb a can!) ….but there is no alcohol in it! Another example of how Chinese words can have multiple meanings. It sounded interesting so I got some to try and had it this afternoon. It was too sweet for my liking, but the honeysuckle flavor was nice. The taste reminded me of the Wang lao ji drink I wrote about on January 23, which also has honeysuckle in it. It is best known for fighting bacterial and viral infections, helping reduce inflammation, reducing toxins, and good for use in the summer heat. The flowers, which is what the tea is made from, are considered very safe, but when using the stems and leaves you have to be careful not to use too much. There are supposed to be about 200 species of honeysuckle and three are known for their healing properties. I guess I don’t have to feel so bad when I think of all the honeysuckle I’ve pulled from my flower beds in the past in the USA, it did smell good, but probably wasn’t the right kind for tea :-)

Ginger Tea

I have a whole assortment of “tea” that I enjoy in China! “Old” ginger tea is considered not just a drink, but a Traditional Chinese Medicine Remedy. “Old,” or mature, ginger, with the light brown skin, is the type you probably see most often in stores. Young ginger is much lighter colored on the outside and doesn’t need peeled. Ginger is recommended for nourishing the blood, improving circulation, improving digestion, reducing nausea (including motion sickness), reducing inflammation, and as a pain reliever.

You can make your own tea at home or, in China (and probably Asian stores elsewhere), buy packets ready mixed with other beneficial ingredients. In the packets, it is generally mixed with black tea and dark brown sugar. The box on the bottom of the picture also has Luohanguo (see Jan 9 pic of day).

Ginger, red dates and brown sugar tea is sold especially for women to drink during their monthly cycle and post partum. The ginger helps with cramping, and the ginger and red dates are both good for blood circulation, and red dates are high in calcium and iron. Goji berries are also often mixed in.

Old ginger increases body temperature, so is especially good if you are cold (winter, poor circulation, etc). Young ginger decreases body temperature, so is good when you are hot (summer, fevers, etc).

Those with high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, or in menopause, are advised to reduce or avoid use of ginger. It is a blood thinner so doesn’t mix with certain medications. It’s probably best to read up on precautions before using more than a few slices a day!

Life in China: A Picture A Day, March 23, 2016

I bought Jim a new cup to take to work for his Luohanguo tea. This is a special type of earthenware known as Yixing pottery and is made from zisha 紫砂, literally “purple clay,“ found along the banks of Lake Tai in Jiangsu Province. It is named after Yixing, the city near where it has been mined since about the year 1000! The “clay” is actually made from a type of rock which is very high in mineral content. It is ground and mixed with water to form the purple clay. But…it isn’t always purple, it can be a range of colors from reddish purple, brown, buff yellow or green. Yixing pottery is especially popular for teapots. The teaware is not glazed, which results in it being very absorbent. Because of this, it is recommended that it only be used for one type of tea because it will absorb that flavor, and it should only be washed with water. Because of the high iron content, it also keeps the tea hot for longer than other types of teaware. The clay is rather rare and although this cup cost 130rmb/$20usd, and is advertised as “authentic,” it is most likely mixed with some other clay.

Life in China: A Picture A Day, March 18, 2016

 Since I enjoy learning about nature, I’ve loved that our housing/garden has ID information on many of the plants and trees. There are large (about 6 x 8 inch) QR codes to scan, and although the info is all in Chinese, the scientific name is included. I use that to search online and find out what things are. This morning, I saw flowers which I thought I recognized on this tree pictured, but I had never seen one so big. By scanning the ID, I was able to confirm what I thought it was. The tiny flowers of osmanthus fragrans, 桂花, guìhuā, or sweet osmanthus, are used for their scent and flavor in China. Osmanthus tea is very popular and the flowers are also used for osmanthus wine, jam, sweet cakes, soups and dumplings. Flowers for tea are typically yellow like the ones pictured here which I photographed on a past trip to Hangzhou, but they can also be white like the ones here in Songshan Lake.

Life in China: A Picture A Day, March 7, 2016

Gong Cha is my favorite tea shop for a drink while we’re out. The company is originally from Taiwan, first started in 2006, but now has over 1000 stores in about a dozen countries, including CA and NY in the USA J We’ve had it in many parts of China, Hong Kong, and Singapore. When we lived in Shenzhen, it could be found in just about every shopping mall. They are known for Taiwan Style Bubble Tea. Teas with different kinds of fruit are plentiful, and you can add in extras to any drink: things like pearls, red beans (adzuki), milk caps, various jellies (herbal, coconut, aloe, fig, etc). You also choose your level of sugar and ice. We have found that different locations have different options though, and depending on the location, they may or may not have an English menu. This picture is from our neighboring town of Dalingshan. Photo credit goes to my husband Jim.

Life in China: A Picture A Day, March 3, 2016

In China, many hot beverages are called “tea” although they are not true teas or what Westerners think of as herbal teas. This morning, I had a bit of a sore throat and got out the Korean Honey Citron Tea. This is basically candied fruit, like marmalade or jam, that you add to hot water! In Korea, there is a fruit called the citron that it is made from, but it seems that the ones made in China are made from pomelos. It is supposed to be good for colds, coughs and sore throat, kind of like we’d use honey and lemon in the USA. I’ve tried a lot of different brands, some are much sweeter than others. Start with a couple of spoonfuls, add water, (hot, warm or cold) and if you need more you can add it in. I think next time I’m stateside, I’ll try it with some marmalade! Red date, ginger and other citrus fruits are also available.

Herbal Tea

Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, January 23 - Last night, Jim brought home three cans of “liang cha,” or herbal tea, which people had given him throughout the day at work. This is a very popular drink in China, and because of the cans being red with yellow writing, and the meaning of the names, it becomes especially popular at Chinese New Year. There are two brands, basically the same drink. “Wanglaoji” means “King Old Luck,” and “Jia Duo Bao,” or JDB, means “Add More Treasure.” It is supposed to be good for sore throat and dryness in winter, and helping your body handle the heat in summer. The ingredients are water, white sugar (LOTS of it!), herbal jelly, plumeria, chrysanthemum, honeysuckle, common self-heal, licorice root and microcos leaf. I like the taste, but don’t drink it too often because of all the sugar! My thanks to Leah today for her help with translations, and to Peanut for helping to make the picture more interesting :-)