« НазадПродовжити »
Chinese dealers and brokers could not be amply remunerated by a lower price than any yet quoted.
The above statements would seem to show that it is greatly to the interest of the Chinese merchant to encourage the production of the finer classes of tea, those being the kinds upon which he gets the largest profits.
I have now shown in detail the cost of the different classes of tea in the tea country, the distance which it has to travel before it reaches the seaport towns, and the total expenses upon it when it reaches the hands of the foreign merchant. It forms no part of my plan to say what ought to be a sufficient remuneration for the Chinese tea-dealer or broker;* but if the above calculations are near the truth, we may still hope to drink our favourite beverage, at least the middling and finer qualities of it, at a price much below that which we now pay.
While I encourage such hopes, let me confer a boon upon my countrywomen, who never look so charming as at the breakfast-table, by a quotation or two from a Chinese author's advice to a nation of teadrinkers how best to make tea. “Whenever the tea is to be infused for use," says Tüng-po, “take water from a running stream, and boil it over a lively fire. It is an old custom to use running water boiled over a lively fire; that from springs in the hills is said to be the best, and river-water the next, while well-water is the worst. A lively fire is a clear and bright charcoal fire.
* I do not think the small farmer and manipulator is overpaid ; the great profits are received by the middlemen.
“When making an infusion, do not boil the water too hastily, as first it begins to sparkle like crabs’ eyes, then somewhat like fish's eyes, and lastly it boils up like pearls innumerable, springing and waving about. This is the way to boil the water."
The same author gives the names of six different kinds of tea, all of which are in high repute. As their names are rather flowery, I quote them for the reader's amusement. They are these: the “first spring tea,” the “white dew,” the “coral dew," the “dewy shoots,” the “money shoots,” and the “rivulet garden tea.”
“Tea,” says he, “is of a cooling nature, and, if drunk too freely, will produce exhaustion and lassitude ; country people before drinking it add ginger and salt to counteract this cooling property. It is an exceedingly useful plant; cultivate it, and the benefit will be widely spread ; drink it, and the animal spirits will be lively and clear. The chief rulers, dukes, and nobility esteem it; the lower people, the poor and beggarly, will not be destitute of it; all use it daily, and like it.” Another author upon tea says that “ drinking it tends to clear away all impurities, drives off drowsiness, removes or prevents headache, and it is universally in high esteem.”
Geography of the tea-shrub — Best tea districts of China - Nanies of
tea-plants - Black and green tea made from the same variety- My Chinamen asked to make tea from Pongamia glabra — They succeed !-- Difference between black and green tea depends upon manipulation — Method of making green tea — Of making black — Difference in the manipulation of the two kinds — Mr. Warrington's remarks on this subject - A familiar illustration — The tea-plant - Inferior teas made from Thea bohea — Best teas made from Thea viridis — The W00-e-shan variety — The tea-plant affected by climate and reproduction – Tea cultivation in America and Australia - In English gardens.
The cultivation of the tea-shrub, although confined, until very lately, to the eastern parts of Asia, is carried on over a large tract of country. Thunberg informs us that it grows plentifully in Japan both in a wild and cultivated state, and Dr. Wallich says that it is found in Cochin China. I have met with it in cultivation in China, from Canton in the south up to the 31st degree of north latitude, and Mr. Reeves says it is found in the province of Shan-tung, near the city of Tang-chow-foo, in latitude 36° 30' north.
The principal tea districts of China, however, and those which supply the greater portion of the teas exported to Europe and America, lie between the 25th and 31st degrees of north latitude, and the best districts are those between 27° and 31°.
The plant in cultivation about Canton, from which
the Canton teas are made, is known to botanists as the Thea bohea, while the more northern variety, found in the green-tea country, has been called Thea viridis. The first appears to have been named upon the supposition that all the black teas of the Bohea mountains were obtained from this species, and the second was called viridis because it furnished the green teas of commerce. These names seem to have misled the public, and hence many persons, until a few years back, firmly believed that black tea could be made only from Thea bohea, and green tea only from Thea viridis.
In my •Wanderings in China,' published in 1846, I made some observations upon the plants from which tea is made in different parts of China. While I acknowledged that the Canton plant, known to botanists as Thea bohea, appeared distinct from the more northern one called Thea viridis, I endeavoured to show that both black and green teas could be made from either, and that the difference in the appearance of these teas, in so far as colour was concerned, depended upon manipulation, and upon that only. In proof of this I remarked that the black-tea plant found by me near Foo-chow-foo, at no great distance from the Bohea hills, appeared identical with the green-tea plant of Chekiang.
These observations were met by the objection, that, although I had been in many of the tea districts near the coast, yet I had not seen those greater ones inland which furnish the teas of commerce. And this was perfectly true. The same objection can hardly be
urged now, however, as I have visited both the greentea country of Hwuy-chow, and the black-tea districts about Woo-e-shan, and during these long journeys I have seen no reason to alter the opinions I had previously formed upon the subject.
It is quite true that the Chinese rarely make the two kinds of tea in one district, but this is more for the sake of convenience and from custom than for any other reason. The workmen, too, generally make that kind of tea best with which they have had most practice. But while this is generally the case in the great tea districts, there are some exceptions. It is now well known that the fine Moning districts near the Poyang Lake, which are daily rising in importance on account of the superior character of their black teas, formerly produced nothing else but green teas. At Canton green and black teas are made from the Thea bohea at the pleasure of the manufacturer, and according to demand.
But I must relate an occurrence that took place on my arrival at Calcutta, which is more curious than the making of black and green teas from one variety or species of the tea-plant. I was then on my way to the Government tea plantations in the north-west provinces of India, with six Chinese tea-manufacturers, and a large supply of plants and implements used in making tea. Dr. Falconer, of the Calcutta garden, with whom we were staying for a few days, expressed a wish to see the process of tea manufacture, and asked me to communicate his wishes to the Chinamen. He also invited the late Mr. Bethune and some other