Next we visited the Hangzhou Tea Museum and learned that this is the only tea museum in China and it has national accreditation. Our guide told us that it is the first crops, that are hand-picked in April, that are the finest quality and the rest are discarded as this is top quality green tea branded “West Lake Dragon Well Tea” – we later learned that discarded leaves often find their way into tea-bags. Dragon Well tea is apparently the finest organic green tea in the World, rich in vitamin C, promoting circulation and has a detoxing function. Needless to say, we bought some for our trip and a tea flask with an infuser and we now walk about with our flask of tea, just like the locals. We also bought some Oolong Ginseng tea that promotes metabolic weight loss and will reduce blood pressure. If this all works for us, we will be more than happy, especially the weight loss bit!
Next we had lunch and invited Carl, our guide, to join us – he took us to an excellent traditional Chinese restaurant on the lake and there we ate an assortment of dumplings, which are a speciality of this area, noodles and beef stew, all were delicious and surprisingly inexpensive.
After we visited a historic and famous Ancient Pharmacy. To arrive there, it was necessary to walk through a short market place, a historic, cultural street, which was laden with designer-copy, leather goods and bling, but had a wonderful atmosphere and was a lot of fun. The pharmacy is two hundred and fifty years old and is also a Chinese medicine museum that is still very active. We rounded off the afternoon with a visit to the manor house of a Qing nobleman.
Anyway, later that day, we probably had the most amusing event of the trip. We went to a well-known lakeside restaurant in the evening and had a very average meal. Afterwards, we tried to get a taxi but were advised to walk to the main road around the lake. The road was surprisingly dark. Alf went up to what he thought was a parked taxi and tapped on the window, and then when the occupant wound down the window, Alf offered a card with our hotel address in Chinese characters. The response from the car’s driver was a smile, a salute and the reply: