Bargaining for tea in Shanghai

As the tea puffed its warning steam, the host of the teahouse urged me to drink up. I was in the Old Town of Shanghai and after market hunting and bargaining I needed a good wake up. Tea.

Old Town is a reminder, albeit kitschy, of the bustling financial city’s older glamour and simpler times. Dragons decorate ornate black and white buildings, red lanterns populate the area like tourists and truly nothing is more relaxing to escape the preying hawkers than to sit for a spell and watch some tea seep.

So, after the requested gift of Jasmine, I asked, what is the best?

Reminiscent of a green tea, but with the body of the darker black, oolong is the perfect go-between; quite possibly China’s favorite, or at least that of the teahouse matron who, as a native from Fujian province, grew up in the tea’s most-acclaimed home. As she poured another round, she proudly exclaimed why an oolong from Fujian tastes different and better, according to her, than its neighbor and competition across the Strait, Taiwan. A banter that is as strong as the tea itself; an oolong from Taiwan will have a defining fragrant taste, where as that from China will have a characteristically darker color and taste.

However, as I sipped and relaxed from the haste outside, both seemed too goo to deny. On either side of the Taiwan Strait, a good oolong is like a ripe piece of fruit. The taste lingers like a peach with a slightly sweet resonating aftertaste. And just like its comparative teas, green or black, an oolong garners much in health benefits:

  • Weight control—If consumed daily, oolong tea activates certain enzymes that are responsible for controlling the fat metabolism of the body.
  • Better skin—According to scientific studies, patients with skin disorders, such as eczema can benefit by drinking daily cups of oolong.
  • Promotes good bone structure--The antioxidants within oolong help protect against tooth decay and strengthens bone structures.
  • Busts Stress—According to a study in Japan, mice ingested with oolong tea lowered their stress levels by 10-18%, a remarkable improvement.

So, I waged another bargain battle and bought a bag (or two).

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