Please login to vote.
Sunday, 01 September 2013

Guizhou & Green Tea - Page 3

Written by Tom Clifford
  • Print
  • Email
  • AddThis Social Bookmark Button
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

This is no job for the faint hearted. Sweltering sun, torrential rain, the body poised to strike and then tear the fragile leaf for hours on end. Perched on mountainsides, this may be a job with scenery to die for but it asks a back-aching price.

DSCF3312

Guizhou’s mountains stand sentinel, guardians of a beauty still unveiled to mass tourism. This is China, but not as many know it. In rural parts of the province, far from the madding crowd, the three S's , sight, smell and sound, ravish the senses with a ferocity of lovers reunited. Tea country has a more subtle, enchanting, allure. The rolling hills are not awe-inspiring like the mountains but they are easier on the eye and provide a gentle introduction to heights of amazement further down the road.    

The picking season is April to October and each plant will produce a new leaf every two weeks or so.

After picking it is allowed to dry naturally for a few hours, then it is stirred, not shaken, mechanically to give it shape before being shaken to dry it further. After this, it is rattled in what looks like a cement mixer to enhance its flavor.

DSCF3424

Packaged and of it goes for a shelf life before floating invitingly in a cup or glass.

Tea has a special place in Chinese and world history but only now is green tea getting even a fraction of the global publicity it deserves. I am a coffee lover but there are times in the day when I could be unfaithful to the bean, especially in the restful hours after 6pm when green tea would settle the frayed nerves of a hard day’s night more than coffee.

Reflections over, we rise, with sighs of satisfaction, from the table, sustained for the night’s challenges on the road under stars that would have inspired Van Gogh. The following day, in bright almost apologetic sunshine, our plans were back on track.  We traveled to a paper-making village, cradled by steep granite gorges. For 600 years the village of Bai Shui He has been cutting and striping bamboo, mixing it with plum juice, pulping, hanging and drying it out. The paper for ancestral offerings can also be used for calligraphy. It costs 12 yuan a kilo. Nature’s bounty.

Then onto a nearby Buyi village that was expecting us for a meal. No guilt here while we hammered the rice, as if it was trying to emerge from the underworld, into a sticky substance, which was then peppered with seeds and eaten in small handfuls. Maidens fair, in traditional blue costume, offered us rice wine and food. We drank, they sang. This side of paradise? The lines were blurring, we may have stepped over. Tiny cups were raised to lips and then turned upside down to show that no alcohol remained. Both a tribute and a delightful challenge. The table was not just groaning under the weight of food but begging for mercy, pleading for us to lighten its load. Laughter competed with birdsong. More maidens singing, more rice wine. Well into the night we stayed, unable to pull ourselves away from the gravitational pull of incredible hospitality.

The hour of departure could no longer be denied. Farewells were exchanged with a solemnity that contradicted the previous gaiety. Handshakes seemed inadequate. Full body hugs and claps on the back were called for. Journey’s end had been reached. Until we laugh together again, paradise postponed.

 

Tom Clifford

(Page 3 of 3)
Last modified on Sunday, 01 September 2013

Search Content by Map

Search

All Rights Reserved ©Copyright 2006-2019 inTravel Magazine®
Published by Christina's Arena, Inc.