Nothing But Dragonwell Tea for Me, Please – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

The group blog WWAM BAM just published my post titled Nothing But Dragonwell Tea for Me, Please. Here’s an excerpt:

Among the rituals I observe every morning when I arrive bleary-eyed to work, nothing perks up my senses more than the moment I open the little light-blue canister in my desk drawer and take that first whiff of West Lake Longjing, or Dragonwell, tea leaves. The aroma of those lightly roasted leaves recalls memories of fresh tea on the bushes while walking through high mountain fields. Even just wandering through those fields in my mind, prompted by the sight and scent of Dragonwell tea leaves, delights me on the most dreary of days.

No other tea will do. My allegiance to the stuff runs so deep that I always prepare a stash of it whenever I travel.

You can read the full post at WWAM BAM. And if you like it, share it!


My 6 China Must-Haves When Traveling Back Home

It’s the summer travel season – and this summer, Jun and I will be traveling back to the US.

Granted, it’s more business than pleasure – Jun is court-ordered to return to Idaho to continue participating in his lawsuit. (You can learn more about that and support Jun here.)

But regardless, it’s also a trip back home, which means reconnecting with family and friends we haven’t seen in years. We hope to make the most of that.

At the same time, it’s an opportunity for me to flex my packing and organization “muscles” so to speak. After all, when you’ve lived in China as long as I have, you become accustomed to certain things – and can’t imagine being anywhere in the world without them. Even when traveling back home.

Here are 6 things from China that I always pack along with me when I return to the US:

IMG_20160710_184039#1: Chinese remedies and medicines

No matter where I am in the world, the must-have at the top of my list is my personal “first-aid kit” filled with my preferred remedies from China.

While everyone has their favorites, here’s what I always pack:

  • Sweets Golden Throat (or other herbal lozenges)
  • Fengyou Jing
  • Pain-relieving medicinal patches
  • Tiger balm (or similar pain-relieving medicinal ointment)

Fine teas#2: Tea

One of the things I’ve learned from China (and my husband) is that there’s nothing like a nice, fragrant cup of loose-leaf green tea to start your day.

But as we all know, the best green teas come from China and NOT America.

That’s why I always pack a canister of the best green tea I can afford. When I’m back in the US, it’s like a little taste of China every single morning. Mmmmmm!

IMG_20160710_183322#3: Red Chinese jujube dates

The Chinese have touted the health benefits of these tasty little dates for thousands of years. So it’s no wonder that they’re a popular snack here in China, and one of my favorite things to munch on.

But good luck finding them in the US!

So I always pack a bag of delicious dried jujube dates in my luggage (especially the dates from the Xinjiang region, which are usually sweeter). They’re a terrific snack and wonderful for sharing.

Who knows? This trip, I might just convert a few family and friends over to these fantastic dates. 😉

IMG_20160710_183108_HDR#4: Hair accessories

When I lived in the US, I always came across a familiar phrase on every single hair accessory I purchased.

Made in China.

Yes, China is responsible for producing all of those lovely hairpins, hair ties, hair clips, headbands and more. So what’s the point of buying in the US when I can purchase straight from the source?

With the convenience of online shopping, it’s so easy to find the best and most beautiful accessories in China. That means I can save my money for something else in the US…such as buying more of those delicious avocadoes. 😉

IMG_20160710_184349#5: Silk scarves

Throwing on a nice silk scarf is the perfect way to dress up your outfit, especially when you’re traveling and trying to pack light. And since China is the silk road country – with a wide selection of silk scarves at great prices – guess where all of my scarves come from?

This trip, I’m packing my favorite floral silk scarf, which will add a touch of class to my black shirt and black maxi skirt for any dressy occasion.

版本 2#6: Renminbi cash

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Why would she put RMB cash on this list?

Well, you would be surprised by the times when I’ve left China to travel abroad – and wished I packed more cash with me.

Having some cash from China comes in handy if you get stranded at a major international airport and, for whatever reason, cannot use your credit cards or bank cards. Just head to a currency exchange window and you’re set.

It gives me extra peace of mind whenever I’m navigating the uncertainties that come along with international travel.

It’s also a wonderful conversation piece for friends and family back home. Most of them have never seen Chinese money or even touched it. Americans love the novelty of red money, not to mention those portraits of Chairman Mao! 😉

What do you like to bring when you’re traveling back home?

Sushi is Not Chinese Food: Of China Misunderstandings

Sushi is not Chinese food — and it’s not the only way Americans sometimes misunderstand China.

“These girls gave me panda earrings!” laughed this Chinese girl, who came over to my home for the holidays. “I mean, seriously, panda earrings? I can buy those in China anytime.” These girls were her American classmates. And even though pandas are pretty much the national symbol of China — and even one of the mascots for the Beijing Olympics — these Americans somehow thought this gift would truly be something special.

It was like how one of my relatives gave John — who comes from Hangzhou, the home of Dragonwell, one of the most famous and prized green teas in all of the world — a box of Celestial Seasonings green tea.

So it’s not surprising that, as I giggled at my friend’s tale of gifting gone wrong, I couldn’t help but think of many similar misunderstandings here in the US of A.

Like when people say this to John, after hearing he is from China: “Oh, I love sushi.” This culinary faux pas would usually make me cough uncomfortably. Sometimes, I would step in, reminding them politely, “Uh, you know, sushi is Japanese.

Then there are the so-called “Chinese” things that don’t even really exist in China. Like General Tso’s chicken, and fortune cookies. When my husband first heard about chop suey from my Grandpa, I had to explain to him, later on, that this was a dish created by Chinese immigrants to the US, as a way to make Chinese food into something a little more American.

As long as people continue to learn about countries from afar — through the media, movies, TV and reading — there will always be misunderstandings. Which is why I’m sure this won’t be the last time an American gives a Chinese girl panda earrings.

What China misunderstandings have you experienced?