Last Saturday, our Chinese Academy went to a tea plantation to experience tea leaves picking and to learn about tea culture. We went to the famous Seven Star Yangshuo Tea Plantation. A van took us up to the hill where the tea trees are.
In 2004 Annie, an extremely knowledgeable local guide who speaks both French and English, established the Seven Star Tea House. It’s a two floor building with a tea shop downstairs and seated. Air-conditioned tea rooms upstairs serve everything from soft drinks to snacks and of course tea. With her team of specially trained staff, she will make you feel welcome and introduce you to the distinctively Chinese business of drinking tea in Yangshuo.
A unique feature of the Seven Stars Tea House is that is the only tea house in Yangshuo (at the time of writing) with its own tea plantation. In 2009 their tea, Cuiyu Green Tea, won the Guangxi Special prize at a tea tasting competition, rather like a wine tasting but better for you perhaps.
After the tea picking, we went to a wooden house to fry the tea leaves and let them sundry, sometimes the villagers put the tea into a wok and start to heat it up while turning it around, this is definitely speed up the whole process.
Cuiyu Green Tea
The Cuiyu Green Tea, noted for its clear green colour and fragrant taste of chestnuts and fresh corn is exported across China to hotels and tea houses. Annie can advise you the different kinds of tea (green tea, black tea, oolong tea, flower tea etc…) you can buy in Yangshuo and also sells some exquisite tea wares such as teacups, teapots, tea-trays and tea-tables which are either made from metal, pottery, porcelain or beautifully carved of wood or bamboo. She can also arrange a tea tasting for individuals or groups or demonstrate the Chinese tea ceremony for you which is a very different experience to the famous Japanese tradition. In China tea drinking is a very lively and social experience and while there is a formality to the way the tea is made the atmosphere is less serious than its Japanese counterpart.
The Seven Star Tea Plantation offers a tour and the opportunity to pick and dry the tea in the traditional way followed by a tea tasting and introduction to the Chinese tea ceremony. I’m not really interested in all of that today. I just want to walk around the plantation. There’s a huge tasting room filled with Chinese families, but I only purchased the ticket to the plantation. We hopped on Vivian’s motorbike to go up to the top of the mountain by dirt road.
Some people have donned the conical hats offered by the plantation and are picking tea. The tour guide has shown us that only the most tender shoots are the ones to be picked.
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