A drink with an unforgettable taste, texture and smell, tea has been enjoyed for centuries. Tea is often overlooked as a simple drink that accompanies breakfast or a nighttime snack. People forget that tea existed before much of the world was inhabited. The west has only had tea for 500 years. Tea has been a witness to the most exciting and tragic events of the past. But in the east tea has been used for several purposes for thousands of years. One of the most ancient users of tea in the east is China. Chinese people have been using this fragrance leaves since the beginning of their recorded history. This paper will discuss different aspects of tea plantation and manufacturing in China as I have perceived during my visit their.
Tea Plantation and Manufacturing in China:
As I boarded my plane to Shanghai last year one of my goals was to explore the mystic history of tea in the country where it originated and examine the history that stretches back thousands of years in Chinese history. We arrived in Shanghai late in the evening and headed out the next morning on the Yi-xing. This is the home of China’s most famous teapots produced in striking purple sand clay. These earthenware teapots are beautiful in pictures but stunning in person. They have been made for hundreds of decades, the first dating back to Christopher Columbus. Oddly, that is early in the history of tea and teapots in china. It was that craftsman, today and years ago, created beautiful hand made teapots employing skills that have been passed on for generations. Lu Yu was said to have written the first book about tea and the tea ceremony. We moved from Yi-xing to the tea plantations of Longjing. It is here that rows upon rows of tea plants can be seen. They dominated the environment and seduce the observer into staring. Much like Niagria Falls which is said to draw people in, so too does the great tea plantations of China. The curves of the land are enhanced the tea plant’s delicate features. Biluochun, Guzhu, and Purple Bamboo are grown here. As night fell we approach the capital of the Song dynasty and the plantations here reflected the moonlight. The entire fields glowed with a mystical light and I wondered how many people over the centuries had stood exactly where I did, intoxicated by the surroundings. Dragon Well in the city of Hangzhou and is what westerners call green tea.
I lingered in the moon light, inhaling the cleanest air I have ever smelled. We slept and as morning approached I was anxious to taste the tea I had just recently become acquainted with. We attended a tea ceremony, which was preceded by the making of the tea. The hosts picked fresh, young, and delicate shoots of Dragon Well and brought them into the teahouse in baskets. Hot woks awaited the tealeaves and we were allowed to press the tealeaves again the copper wok bottoms. It is said that this gives the tea a sweeter taste. The heat released a soft scent into the air, which lingered on our clothes for the rest of the day. We drank tea riding on a dragon book. Our ears filled with live Chinese music played on traditional instruments. It was explained that the first Dragon tea was made from the waters of West Lake, which is near Lingyin Temple. This temple was constructed by the monks. The water here is considered blessed and a penny will float on the spring water. This mystic water is said to give the Dragon Well tea it’s unique taste.
The dragon boat trip was followed by a Chinese Tea Ceremony that my wife and myself attended. Cha no yo is the traditional Chinese tea Ceremony and finds it’s beginnings in Zen history. There are four principles to the Tea Ceremony and the way the Tea Ceremony is conducted is different for men and women. The four principles are harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility. Tea is a long and honored tradition in Chinese culture. It has a history over 2,000 years, and is a common thread running through Chinese culture. Tea drinking has become a form of artistic and intellectual expression. The significance of tea began to assert itself in the Tang and Song Dynasties. It was during this time that the art of tea was born. The Tea Classics, written by Lu Yu during the Tang Dynasty, helped to elevate tea drinking to a high status throughout China.
It was somewhere between the Tang Dynasty and the Song Dynasty that the custom of tea drinking was brought to Japan, which readily adopted the Chinese custom. But there were, and still are, differences between the Japanese and Chinese interpretations of the art of tea drinking. The Chinese Tea is usually really strong and when we inquired why we were told a story by one of the hostesses. It was not unusual for the Chinese to add more water to their strong tea. To indicate that they need more water, they will take off the lid. The teahouse, restaurant, bar staff will then come to pour some more water. The hostess said this was based on an old Chinese legend. She began “Once upon a time, in a small tea house in the suburbs of BeiJing, an old traveler was drinking tea and reading some poems from Lu Xun And continued. Then, the waitress arrived and removed the lid to see if the old man needed some more water. The old man jumped on his feet and angrily said to the waitress that a really rare bird was in the tea pot and that she let it go away! The poor and unfortunate waitress had to pay for the bird. Since then, the teahouse staff members will always wait for the customer to remove the lid by himself.
Chinese people have been using tea for a long time that drinking tea has become a art among them. There are certain rules, which are practically observed during traditional tea drinking which are different for men and women. Drinking tree is one of the most common heritages, which comes along the rich history of the Chinese civilization. It can very easily be concluded that tea has very old and firm roots in eastern especially Chinese civilization than in the West.