The Hutong is a really cool place hidden amidst the traditional alleyways of the capital. Run by expats for expats and guests of Beijing, it offers a very impressive range of classes, from life drawing to knitting, passing by all possible Asian cuisines and healthy habits. I first came here about a year ago for a series of classes in … building websites, run by wonderful Susie Hart. So indirectly, the Hutong is also to blame for the existence of this very blog. I returned to The Hutong at the end of August to attend the Tea Lounge tea tasting workshop. It is held twice a month, lasts two hours and costs 160 RMB.
The Hutong crew features an impressive number of guys who enjoy a good brew – passionate tea enthusiasts, many of them running their own tea businesses. Joel Shuchat is one of them. He hosted the Tea Lounge this time.
The ad for this class says that “participants are introduced to 6 teas processed in different styles from varying Chinese regions. They learn to taste, brew and select various teas. While tasting delicious teas they are taught the history and mythology that is infused in each cup of Chinese tea“.
As many ads, this one does carry a bit of exaggerated promice. Firstly, tasting all six main varieties of Chinese tea is difficult having just two hours, provided you want to do it in a relaxed atmosphere and have a bit of talk in between the sips. We had enough time to taste four different teas : one green tea, Long Jing; two oolongs, Tie Guan Yin and Dan Cong; and one raw Pu Er. Secondly, do not expect the whole history and mythology to be squeezed into the two-hours tasting session, mission impossible. But you will definitely learn a fair amount of stuff from a very knowledgeable guy. Thirdly, be prepared that “learning to brew” will not be by doing but by watching, although you will have all necessary tips and tricks to repeat the experience at home.
But the most important promise was held : all the teas we tasted were delicious and of excellent quality. I found the choice of teas and the order in which they were presented quite pertinent. I also appreciated that the tasting was a rather “unceremonious”, relaxed and informal discussion with enough room for the exchange of tasting impressions and for a free flow of questions and anwsers… Recommend it.