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A Beginner’s Guide to Green Tea

Picking Dragon Well tea, Hangzhou
Qingming Festival, on April 5 this year, is a day when families pay respects to their ancestors by tending their graves. It’s also an important date on the annual calendar of Chinese teas because it marks the harvest of the first flush of early spring tea leaves. I’ve been lucky enough to catch two Qingming harvests of Dragon Well tea in Hangzhou, while there was still a winter chill in the early morning air followed by the growing warmth of the spring sunshine.
After picking was over for the day I sat and sipped tea in the cool air of the tea terraces There really is nothing quite like the chestnut aroma and clean grassy taste of freshly-roasted green tea – it makes all the worries of the world fall away.
Green teas are a perfect introduction to the family of Chinese teas because they are more lightly flavoured and easy to prepare, with a taste everyone enjoys. Here’s an easy guide for learning more about Chinese green teas.
Dragon Well tea leaves. The picker’s fingers are stained with tea oils.

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Afternoon Tea Hong Kong Style

High tea at the Peninsula Hotel is a Hong Kong institution, but after seeing the grumpy faces in the long, long queue we decided to head over the road to the Intercontinental Hotel and see what they had to offer.
What a pleasant surprise it was – no queues, fabulous Hong Kong harbour views from floor-to-ceiling windows, and high tea in an art-deco inspired server with a choice of coffee or Mariage Freres teas. Delights such as rose scented raspberry cheesecake, green tea delice, scones with earl grey jelly and clotted cream, and miniature individual balck forest gateaux had me in high tea heaven. And guess what? You pay a lot more at the Peninsula to stand in a queue for an hour then sit in a dark lobby with no view.

5 Reasons I may be Chinese

1. I like chewing bones. Really gnawing them, then spitting them out on my plate. But I’m not really Chinese because I don’t spit them directly on the tablecloth.

2. I wear slippers. In the house. But sometimes I forget to take them off when I go outside. Now that I think of it, that’s actually very Chinese.

3. I take a thermos of oolong tea to the park. But I’m not really Chinese because I can’t see the attraction of drinking tea out of a plastic tupperware container or an old coffee jar with a screwtop lid.

4. I have started to use chopsticks for eating almost everything, and for spaghetti, I prefer them to a fork.

5. I can still act truly shocked and exclaim ‘tai guai le!’ ‘too expensive!’ when told that the item I’ve always wanted is less expensive than I could dream possible.