I had this fantasy before going to China that I’d have delicious green tea with every meal. NOT! What I soon discovered at local restaurants throughout Beijing was that the locals weren’t drinking tea with lunch or dinner. The reason why may surprise you.Imagine having Peking duck for dinner. This is a specialty in Beijing that is served in many local establishments. Now imagine the most delicious, succulent duck you’ve ever tasted, roasted in a wood fired oven. My mouth is watering just remembering it. The cost for such a delicacy is 27 rmb or $3.27. How it can cost a mere $3.27 just boggles the mind.

Next, you order some tea to accompany the feast. The cost? 24 rmb or $3.00. Now, spending $3.00 in the U.S. for a cup of tea is no big surprise. However, to spend almost as much on tea as you’re spending for your meal in China just doesn’t seem right at all.

Perhaps you might assume this type of tea to be of a significantly higher quality because of the expense. I’m afraid not. Here in the U.S., we are familiar with tea bag tea which we refer to as GPGT – general purpose green tea – available for free at Chinese restaurants. In Beijing, they serve whole leaf green tea, but I can assure you, it is essentially the equivalent of GPGT, and of similar quality – only whole leaf style.

So on your next trip to China, head for the charming tea houses, which are present in every neighborhood, for that special cup of tea. When you’re out for a meal at the local restaurant however, I recommend that you order what the Chinese drink…..Tsingtao (Chinese beer).