We recently joined our friends, Dale and Amber, for some authentic Chinese experiences. Are they Chinese? Yes. Well, half Chinese. Before moving to New Zealand a year and a half ago, Dale and Amber spent several years living in China. While they were there, they opened up their own Chinese restaurant, the name for which translates as “Big Dale’s Chinese Canadian Restaurant.”
For Amber’s birthday, we went out for a Chinese hot pot meal. Being new to “hot pot,” I envisioned a steaming pot of… something… filled with mysterious animal parts. To be honest, I was a bit nervous. For those of you who are also in the dark in regards to “hot pot,” let me enlighten you. Hot pot is a steaming pot of broth that’s put in the middle of your table, in which food is simmered. I was relieved to find out that you had full control of what goes into the pot.
There were two sides to our pot- a savoury side, and a spicy side. We simmered all kinds of vegetables, from bok choy, to lotus (as seen in the pic above), to potato, and lettuce, along with various types of meat and seafood. After cooking your food, there was a tasty peanut satay sauce for dipping. It was all quite tasty, I must say. A new food experience that was most definitely a positive one. It was neat seeing Amber and Dale speak Chinese with our server.
Our Chinese friends also had us over for real Chinese Tea. Amber was the “Tea Master,” or so I called her. She made, and was in charge of, pouring the tea.
Amber and Dale brought over quite the collection of chinese tea cups and pots over from China. We got to pick out our own little cup, and have it refilled over and over again with pot after pot of tea. Amber served us some delicious oolong, green, and jasmine teas, which they brought back with them from China.
The tea party action was set out on a bamboo tray which had slots in it, through which water could drip down and be collected underneath. The imagery within the tea ceremony is probably what I loved most. The image of water overflowing its capsule, and flowing down the side of the pot was a rare and beautiful sight that caught me by surprise. It’s not very often that we fill a capsule so full that it overflows. This is what Amber did with the teapot each time she filled it. She would keep pouring water in until it overflows down the sides. It was soothing and beautiful. Over and over, we would put our little cups on the tray to be filled, then sip the liquid out, and put them back for more. Over and over, constantly being refilled.
On the tray, Amber and Dale also had a few little ornamental pieces, which they poured water on and painted with tea. This dragon, when heated enough, squirts water out of its mouth.
The tea changed flavours with each pot. One pot of leaves would make about 6 or 7 rounds of tea. This is to say that we drank a lot of delicious, light-bodied tea that night.
While sharing tea, our friends shared stories of their experiences in China. With the added bonus of pictures, combined with the Chinese music in the background, it was like we were transported back to their time in China, of living and teaching English, and falling in love with drinking tea.
We are so very glad our paths have crossed with these two, and thankful to be able to share in a part of their lives that is a big part of their story.