Hangzhou Global Tour: Day three
My third day in Hangzhou started off with a tour of a popular market where many merchants sell handcrafted items. One highlight included two gentleman pounding sesame seeds with large wooden mallets while humming a rhythmic tune in order to stay in sync with one another. The malleable form was then segmented and sold as a tasty treat to passersby. There were also lots of merchants selling various styles of tea from the region. Hangzhou is know for producing the best tea in the world.
We then made our way to the Courtyard Restaurant, a dining establishment that specializes in culinary creations formulated to improve digestion. The service is family style (as is most Chinese restaurants I’m discovering), with a large lazy susan (rotating table) in the middle of the table, allowing patrons to easily serve themselves. The servers brought one dish out after another for us to try. One of the highlights was a steamed pork dish (I would have guessed it had been roasted) draped with a large piece of eatable gold leaf. It was quite dramatic and something I’ve never seen (or eaten) before. We also had a white yam dish in a sugar sauce sprinkled with tiny little flower blossoms known as Sweet Osmanthus. These flower buds are often used in culinary dishes as well as tea. Osmanthus is also the city flower of Hangzhou. Apparently, in the spring, you will see them all over the city emitting a distinctive sweet scent.
The highlight of the day for me had to be high tea at the Youg Fu Temple/Teahouse. Situated high above Hangzhou, with a fantastic view of West Lake in one direction, and downtown in the other, this attraction is one not to miss when visiting the happiest city in China. The grounds are lush with vibrant foliage and the five story high temple (now a teahouse) provides an array of nooks and crannies to take in the extraordinary views.
After some exploring, our group met on the third floor to experience high tea along with some unique snacks that included a sweet marinated olive. Personally, olives are not my favorite food item, but these individually wrapped morsels were delicious. Initially, the taste was not to my liking, but similar to wine as it makes its way to the back of the palate, I found myself thoroughly enjoying these scrumptious accouterments to the loose-leaf green tea.
While drinking our tea in the air-conditioned reprieve, we were treated to a live duo performance of some traditional Chinese music. The soothing sounds were provided by two female musicians, one strumming a Erju, while the other stroked the strings of a guzheng.
I have no doubt that day three of our tour of Hangzhou will be equally impressive, so I hope you’ll stay tuned and continue reading. Click here to read about my previous day. Click here to read about my activities the following day.