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Chap. XV. ADVICE TO THE READER. 253
Some advice to the reader — Botany of the black-tea country — Geological features—Soil — Sites of tea-farms—Temperature—Rainy season — Cultivation and management of tea-plantations — Size of farms — Mode of packing — Chop names — Route from the teacountry to the coast—Method of transport — Distances — Time occupied — Original cost of tea in the tea-country — Expenses of carriage to the coast—Sums paid by the foreign merchant—Profits of the Chinese—Prospect of good tea becoming cheaper—Tiing-po's directions for making tea—His opinion on its properties and uses.
As this chapter is intended for the man of science and the merchant, it may not contain much of interest to the general reader, who, if he pleases, may pass it over and go on to the next. Having been thus fairly warned, he must not blame me if I bring into it some hard botanical names which are necessary to the elucidation of my subject.
It is generally admitted that nothing can give a botanist a better idea of the climate of a locality than a list of the plants which are indigenous to it. This knowledge, in the absence of thermometrical observations, is oftentimes of great value. Fully impressed with the importance of this subject, I took care to jot down in my note-book the more important species of plants which I observed, either wild or cultivated, in the great black-tea country about Woo-e-shan.
On referring to these memoranda, I find the following species enumerated: — the camphor-tree (Laurus camphora), various species of bamboo, the Chinese pine (Pinus sinensis), Cunninghamia lanceolata, the tallow-tree, Vitex trifoliata, Buddlea Lindleyana, Abelia uniflora, a spiraea like Spircea bella, Hamamelis chinennis, Eurya chinensis, Macartney and other wild roses, brambles and raspberries, Eugenias, Guavas and other myrtaceous plants of a like kind, Gardenia fiorida and G. radicans, and various species of violets, Lycopods, and ferns. There were, of course, many other genera besides these, but enough have been mentioned to give a fair idea of the vegetation of these wonderful hills.
I have already given some account of the geological features of the Woo-e hills. As it is not unlikely that the success which has attended the cultivation of tea in this part of China may be traced to have had some connection with the peculiar formation and properties of these rocks, I may be excused if I repeat here what I have before said about them.
The rocks consist of clay-slate, in which occur embedded in the form of beds or dykes great masses of quartz rock, while granite of a deep black colour, owing to the mica, which is of a fine deep bluish black, cuts through them in all directions. This granite forms the summit of most of the principal mountains in this part of the country.
Resting on the clay-slate are sandstone conglomerates, formed principally of angular masses of quartz, held together by a calcareous basis, and alternating
Chap. XV. BOTANY —GEOLOGY —SOIL. 255
with these conglomerates there is a fine calcareous granular sandstone in which beds of dolomitic limestone occur.
The soil of the tea-lands about Woo-e-shan seemed to vary considerably. The most common kind was a brownish-yellow adhesive clay. This clay, when minutely examined, is found to contain a considerable portion of vegetable matter mixed with particles of the rocks above enumerated.
In the gardens on the plains at the foot of the hills the soil is of a darker colour, and contains a greater portion of vegetable matter, but generally it is either brownish yellow or reddish yellow. As a general rule the Chinese always prefer land which is moderately rich, provided other circumstances are favourable. For example, some parts of Woo-e-shan are exceedingly sterile, and produce tea of a very inferior quality. On the other hand, a hill in the same group, called Pa-ta-shan, produces the finest teas about Tsong-gan-hien. The earth on this hillside is moderately rich, that is, it contains a considerable portion of vegetable matter mixed with the clay, sand, and particles of rock.
By far the greatest portion of the tea in this part of the country is cultivated on the sloping sides of the hills. I observed a considerable quantity also in gardens on the level land in a more luxuriant state even than that on the hill-sides; but these gardens were always a considerable height above the level of the river, and were consequently well drained. It will be observed, therefore, that the tea-plants on Woo-e-shan and the surrounding country were growing under the following circumstances:—
1. The soil was moderately rich, of a reddish colour, well mixed with particles of the rocks of the district.
2. It was kept moist by the peculiar formation of the rocks, and the water which was constantly oozing from their sides.
3. It was well drained, owing to the natural declivities of the hills, or, if on the plains, by being a considerable height above the watercourses.
These seem to be the essential requisites as regards soil, situation, and moisture.
Temperature.—With regard to the temperature of the country about Woo-e-shan, I must draw my conclusions from observations which were made at Foochow-foo on the one side and Shanghae on the other. At Foo-chow (lat. 25° 30' north), in the month of June and in the beginning of July, the thermometer ranged from 85° to 95° Fahr., and about the middle of the latter month it rose to 100°, which I believe it rarely exceeds. In the winter of 1844-5, during the months of November, December, and January, the maximum shown by the thermometer was 78°, and the minimum 44°. Snow is sometimes seen on the tops of the mountains, but it does not remain for any great length of time.
Shanghae is in latitude 31° 20' north. The variation of temperature here is much greater than at Foo-chow-foo. In the months of June, July, and
Chap. XV. TEMPERATURE — RAINS. 257
August the thermometer has frequently marked 105' Fahr. This is not very different from Foo-chow as far as the summer-heat is concerned, but we find a great difference in winter. In the end of October the thermometer frequently sinks as low as the freezing-point, and the cold destroys what remains of the cotton-crop, and those half-tropical productions which are cultivated in the fields. December, January, and February are not unlike the same months in the south of England, the thermometer often falls as low as 12° Fahr., and snow covers the surface of the ground.
With these facts before us, therefore, it will not be very difficult to arrive at a correct estimate of the temperature in the black-tea districts of Fokien. Tsong-gan-hien is in latitude 27° 47' 38" north. Situated as it is almost exactly between these two places, but a little further to the westward, we shall not be far from the truth if we suppose that the variations of temperature are greater there than about Foo-chow, but considerably less than about Shanghae. I have no doubt that, taking the summer and winter months as before, we should find that in June, July, and August the thermometer at Woo-e-shan would frequently rise as high as 100° Fahr., while in the winter months of November, December, and January it would sink to the freezing-point, or even to 28°.
Rains.—In all observations connected with the cultivation of tea, there is another matter of great importance to be taken into consideration, and that is the period of the summer rains. Every one at all