Continued from the previous post here: Or back in the USSR. We escaped the Nepal-ese syndicate and made our way out of Russia, needless to say, Paul and I cannot go back to Nepal or Tibet.
Paul returned to the US and now runs a Tea Spa in his spare time. Fast forward and I happen to find myself in the country, within three hours ride, just over the mountains of the place the old man mentioned Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. So! The quest continues to find The Best Tea in the World!
But first I needed to do some research before I ventured into the hills of Malaysia so I enlist my good friend Lee Eng to take me to China Town in Kuala Lumpur and sample some teas. Like my friend Ivan, Lee Eng is Chinese and when you are in China Town you best know your way around and speak the language. Lee Eng says we need to stay away from the tourist places.
We walk North of Jalan Petaling and Lee Eng pays her respects in this little Chinese temple.
We walk deeper into the streets of China Town and down this alley, then the next and bump into this guy.
“We need to get back to the main street.” Lee Eng tells me. “It’s not safe here.”
We pass the man and he stares at us for a second then stops. “Hey Boss, boss! You want girl? You want DVD?”
“Keep walking.” Lee Eng says.
The man starts to follow us. “You want lady friend?”
I point to Lee Eng’s head. “Got one.” And we keep walking.
“Maybe you want Rolex, good price, cheap.” The man is persistent.
“Bu yao, xie xie!” Lee Eng yells out. No thank you. “Zou kai!” Go away!
“Maybe you want tea pot?” The man smiles and tilts his head.
“Teapot?” I asked as I pull Lee Eng to a stop. My best friend collects teapots I thought. I needed a souvenir to take back to the states.
“We need to go. People are looking out their windows.” Lee Eng says.
“Just ask him where a tea shops are.” I looked up and sure enough a few people on the second story were watching the scene below.
Lee Eng goes and talks to the man, he points and points again. “Ok, this way.” Lee Eng pulls at me quickly and we are off.
We finally find the teashops and they are many …
The Chinese ritual of enjoying tea is not as laborious as the Japanese tea ceremony but it is still a ritual manifested by the Chinese Monks during the Tang Dynasty (1200 AD) focusing on the philosophical concepts of quiet, enjoyment, and truth, this belief and ritual holds true today.
Similar to the barista’s in Starbucks the local teashops have a Tea Master who has trained for years in the art of serving and brewing tea. Although I compare these Tea Masters to Starbucks barista’s you will find the former more educated, politer, and humble.
Then we find this Tea Master, a bit surprised at my picture taking but she loosened up. Notice the little teapot with the label. It’s 50 years old, made in YiXing China where the best clay is found. I bought it and it’s going to NC to my friend.
YiXing (pronounced ee-shing) teapots are well known in Asia for their superior quality and delicate style but unheard of in the United States. This will change I’m sure of after 10’s of thousands of people read this blog.
We tried many wonderful teas and talked to many experts on tea and I still know so little it is pitiful. Never the less I owe a debt of gratitude to Lee Eng. Next week I’m off to the Cameron Highlands tea country still in quest of The Best Tea in the World!