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Pao Bao Cha / Eight Treasures Tea
My second day in China, my Chinese colleagues took me out to a fancy lunch. The food was great, but three months later what really stands out is the tea. It tastes like magic. This was my first encounter with pao bao cha (cha means tea in Chinese), which can vary in ingredients depending on who makes it, but always includes eight different little surprises. My favorite one contains daisies, goji berries, dates, tangerine twigs, a Chinese herbal root, orange peel, tea leaves, and tea twigs. The waiters--standing about a foot from the table and holding a teapot with a long golden spout--are part of the magic, too. Waiters must dip the teapot to fill up the spout and then pick it back up to stop the water momentum. I'm always terrified they're going to pour hot water all over me, but their impeccable aim proves me wrong all the time. To thank the waiters, just tap your fingers on the table.
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