Xiamen is a seaside city located in northeastern China. Winter or autumn, young or old, the people of Xiamen drink the same tea the whole year round. Although it is an international city, Xiamen has preserved its traditional culture well, Gongfu tea being part of that traditional culture.
When you visit a friend or a business partner in Xiamen, your host will welcome you with tea. Wine and delicious food may not be available, but tea is ever-present. With just one cup of tea in their hands, people can talk for a whole day. The tea the people of Xiamen drink most often is Tieguanyin, of which there are two varieties. One is Qing Xiang Tieguanyin and the other is Nong Xiang Tieguanyin. Many of the old Xiamenese like Nong Xiang Tieguanyin, but its taste is too strong and bitter for young or inexperienced tea drinkers.
The average price of Qing Xiang Tieguanyin is about 100 dollars per kilogram, three times its price five years ago. The average salary in Xiamen is not high, so people often complain about the high price of real estate and tea. But life continues and especially when there is a wedding, tea is one element that can’t be absent. The bride and the bridegroom must make sure that every guest has a cup of tea.
Because of its tea culture, Xiamen has over 3,000 tea shops; sometimes you can see over 20 tea shops on a short street. In most tea shops, you can have a cup of tea with the boss and you don’t need to pay. Tea shops let you taste all kinds of teas before deciding which to buy. However, in Xiamen, people don’t always go to a tea shop for tea; they may go there to play cards or talk business. On Xiamen Island, there are also some tea rooms in the low-altitude mountains, where folks spent their time with friends or family.
As one of the most important tea markets in China, Xiamen is home to lots of tea giants, both domestic and international. International tea companies often choose Xiamen for one of their branches, in part because it has one of the five largest ports in China and is very convenient for international delivery.
So when in Xiamen, taste some tea – you’ll find the spirit of modern China, as well as that of traditional China.