Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Saturday, Oct 13, In which we drink tea, eat some more, dance outside, and then eat some more

In the afternoon, we met up with the infamous Action Jackson, and went to Tianshan tea mall. There was some confusion about going here at first, because Louise's cousin thought I was pointing at a different address, and said the tea mall I wanted to go to (Tianshan) was too far out, and suggested an alternative. As it turned out, that's where he wanted to go anyway.Tianshan is definitely head and shoulders above the more touristy tea shops scattered around the city, and I didn't have too many people yelling "allo" at me at every turn. Maybe it helps that Action Jackson has been seen there before, and the shopkeepers know she speaks Chinese. Anyway, we went to a couple pu'erh shops - tried a 2007 "6 Famous Mountain" cake which was ok - very fragrant - and then a 2002 cake and a 2007 cake (supposedly by the shopkeeper) at this other shop, which has some nice stuff, but has "storage issues" - what this means is that the shopkeeper smokes in the shop all day, so the wrappers are turning yellow earlier than you'd think they would, and the tea may have a slight off taste.We then went to a shop which had some Anxi rolled oolongs; the tea wasn't really to my taste at all - even their most roasted tea was still kind of vegetal for me, and the leaf quality was just so-so, but the price was pretty cheap, so Action Jackson and I split a jin (500g) between us. In retrospect, maybe I should have skipped this one. We then went upstairs and checked out some teaware, and then Action Jackson had to leave, but not before dropping us off at a vendor who specializes in Wu Yi teas. He was very nice, if a tiny bit condescending, and brewed us two Rou Guis - a fairly cheap one, and a somewhat more expensive (but still quite reasonable) one. I was going to get some even though it seemed a little silly to get Yan Cha before venturing to LA, but we got a call saying that the whole family was waiting for us at dinner (a good half hour before we were supposed to be there), and had to abruptly leave without buying anything from the poor guy. I think I'll get some stuff from him when I go back to Tianshan, though.

Louise's aunt took the whole extended family on her father's side for dinner, and she was the guest of honor. We ended up getting there kind of late, due to rush hour traffic and staying so long at the tea mall. The restaurant is another famous one, in the same touristy area that the XLB place is in. It's main claim to fame seems to be that President Clinton ate there. The food was excellent. Vegetarian standouts were a simple soybean / preserved vegetable dish, bai tsai with straw mushrooms, a kau fu dish that Shanghai is famous for. The meat dishes included a tender goose with a sticky rice stuffing, some little crab pastries, and a fish of some sort. As usual, the dinner and drinking went on, and on, and on.

Afterwards, we went to this park where a ton of people hang out and dance every weekend. Dancing in public seems to be really popular here. It was super fun. Louise's youngest uncle turned out to be a fantastic dancer (I guess he used to teach dance). At some point, a woman grabbed me and tried to teach me the dance they were doing at the time... she got pretty frustrated with me, though she patiently kept trying to teach me until I at least sort of got the hang of it. She told Louise that I had "two feet" (the Chinese equivalent of saying "two left feet").
Late night dancing outside - Shanghai

Then, the little uncle took us out to a late night dim sum type of place, just in case anyone was still hungry. I had more tea, which (after all the tea drinking in the afternoon) meant that I didn't get a whole lot of sleep.

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