My Photographs: Top 5 Sweet Mao – Gulangyu Island, China.

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Sweet Mao, August 2017. It was mid afternoon on Gulangyu when, all of a sudden, the heavens opened and the rain came beating down. So I sprinted off through the nearest stone gate and into a colonial courtyard with brick arches, twisting trees and a statue of a red-haired, cartoon cat. Sweet Mao announced a number of playful signs; the home of sweet tea, handmade nougat and thoughtful gifts.

Sweet Mao, August 2017. “Do you want some tea?” asked the man in blue dungarees and a white, red-striped T-shirt. He looked like a cross between a clown and the presenter of a kids’ TV Show. “It’s free!” he clarified with a friendly smile. So I sampled a cup of red date tea and could not deny it was delicious.

Sweet Mao, August 2017. Inside I found a small but charming space that was part store, part teahouse. There were pots of jam, packs of crumbly cookies and Gulangyu-themed souvenirs. The dude behind the counter was also rocking the dungarees shtick. It was impossible not to smile.

Sweet Mao, August 2017. This girl was posted in a connecting room behind a counter home to a wide selection of aromatic teas. She seemed please to see me and without even asking poured me a cup of complimentary ginger and honey. This one was even better!

Sweet Mao, August 2017. The rain was still coming down hard, so I hung around for a bit watching the Sweet Mao crew do their thing. They were such a cheerful happy-go-lucky bunch, particularly this guy, who treated me to multiple handfuls of wrapped nougat chunks. “You don’t need buy anything, it’s ok!” he laughed as I stuffed my face. If ever you’re in Gulangyu, go and see them. The tea is great, the nougat even better and those ridiculous outfits are good for a giggle.

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