Hangzhou Global Tour: Day nine
Tea is highly coveted in Hangzhou, from its cultivation, to the art of making the perfect cup. Today we enjoyed a tea ceremony at one of the most exclusive teahouses in all of Hangzhou, Hu Pan Ju (or Lakeside Teahouse).
The Hu Pan Ju Teahouse is located right on the banks of the West Lake, providing patrons with the most extraordinary views, while sipping the most extraordinary tea. Prior to the tea master entering our room, a tea master apprentice came in to ready the workstation, complete with traditional silk tablecloths and adornments, which included a beautiful lotus flower and seedpod arrangement. Once completed, the scene was ready for the tea master to enter. This person has spent years studying the art of making the perfect cup of tea. Taking years to learn the subtleties of tea making may seem excessive, but tea is serious business in China.
Donning a blue chang gua (similar to a chef’s uniform) our tea master entered the ceremonial room known as a harmonic space (which is the simplest term translated from Mandarin). The goal of this teahouse is to strike a balance between the setting, and the experience of drinking the finest and best teas available. With expert moves of a tai chi student, our tea master readied his instruments. With all of us gathered around, the tea master began his performance. From placing the perfect amount of tea into each cup, to adding just the right amount of water, each step in the process is done with the utmost precision. The end result was a serving of the most perfectly brewed tea that one can enjoy. Served in a small cup, each sip was savored, letting every delicate note linger on the palate for as long as possible.
After a fantastic lunch and tea ceremony at the Lakeside Teahouse, we hurried back to our hotel to change into traditional Chinese attire for the closing ceremonies of the Hangzhou portion of the Global Tour. It was a bit overwhelming when we first entered the hotel ballroom for a rehearsal as there were dozens of media journalists and news outlets in attendance, along with three massive sized monitors that would broadcast our individual stories, how we got selected for the Global Tour, videos of our time in Hangzhou, and more. The monitors were emitting so much heat, that the hotel staff needed to bring in some portable air conditioning units.
We each gave a speech about how excited we were about being selected for the Hangzhou Global Tour and then the Capaldi family got up and did a performance of their “Happy Hangzhou” song that brought down the house. This family treo is so full of talent, and, with an endless supply of gratitude to boot. Both families, along me and Harold (Chinese name and other storyteller) were up on stage dancing away in front of a room full of media representatives. I have no idea how many outlets ran stories on the event or the Global Tour, but it must have been many given the quantity in attendance.
After a Q&A session with the media, we all went off to get ready for the next day’s journey to Dunhang. After getting my affairs in order, I went off to do a bit of shopping as I had not had a chance before this moment. I found a silk district of sorts where dozens of shops lined each side of a pedestrian-only street (meaning no cars, motor bikes still weave through people down the corridor). I was able to barter with a few vendors and came away with a number of wonderful silk gifts. I then found a neat little teashop where I filled requests from home for some good loose-leaf tea.
It has been an amazing adventure in Hangzhou, but now we must go and leave the confines of our fantastic accommodations at the Wyndham Grand. Tomorrow we are off to explore the Gobi Desert and the town of Dunhuang in northern China. To read day eight, click here. To ready day ten, click here.