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Although you can enjoy sipping tea at a teahouse, you may want to buy some tea as a souvenir. There are many famous places to buy tea in China, but don't overlook the local special teas available in Chengdu.
The Chinese love tea. Many Chinese people already know the basics about buying tea, but for the tea novice here are a few things you'll need to know.
Tea doesn't usually go bad over time; it just loses its taste or becomes bitter very quickly. Tea leaves are considered better because the tea in tea bags is cut into small pieces and becomes flavorless faster. Tea leaves are always stored where oxygen and sunlight can't reach it in sealable bags.
Try the tea before you buy it and keep in mind it changes taste even just one week after you buy it. If the tea is very fresh it might not taste bitter at all. Different parts of China are known for different types of teas. In Sichuan the most famous teas are: Bamboo Leaf Green (Zhuyeqing竹叶青), Emei Hairy Tip (Emei Maofeng峨嵋毛峰 ), and Mengding Sweet Dew (Mengding Ganlu蒙顶甘露).
One nice thing about buying tea from a name brand store is that they have many types of teas and ornamental containers to store the tea, making it perfect for giving as a gift.
Another thing you'll find with most places that sell tea is that you can try the tea before you buy it. In fact, if the tea isn't very good or you don't like it the vendor will understand if you don't buy any.
This is a great way to have a free tea tasting. While you are drinking tea the vendor will talk your ear off about tea. You can really ask anything and they know everything about tea: tea history, how to brew tea, tea classifications, etc.
And although all of this is true in many small tea shops there is a very slight possibility the owner will try and trick you or raise the price. Generally speaking always ask for a discount or special price when buying tea anywhere except the supermarket. A few good name brand tea shops are: Tenfu's Tea (天福茗茶), Zhuyeqing (竹叶青, yes, the same name as the tea itself),
Tea is big in China. So don't be surprised if you find loose leaf teas everywhere. The nice thing about shopping at the normal store is that you're guaranteed a fair price and fair quality. You'll even find the locally produced teas here. The easiest to find are: Red Flag Chain Store (Hongqi Liansuo红旗连锁), Renrenle (人人乐), and Carrefour (Jialefu 家乐福).
Don't overlook your rare opportunity to pick tea yourself! Just a short ride out of Chengdu city is Mengding Mountain (蒙顶山), which is famous for its tea and the starting point of the Ancient Tea-Horse Road. If you miss the harvest season don't worry, because you can buy fresh quality tea directly from the people who harvest and process it.
Let us know if you want to buy tea during a Chengdu tour. Our guides know tea and can help you determine the authenticity and quality of the tea before you buy it. They can also help you negotiate with tea vendors for a lower price or better deal. No matter what your requirements are we are experts at customizing China tours.
Here are some sample itineraries for your inspiration.