China at Harewood

Tea

The Chinese have enjoyed drinking tea for thousands of years. China is thought to have the earliest records of tea drinking, with recorded tea use in its history dating back to the first millennium BC. For hundreds of years China remained the principal source of tea for the world, but by the mid-19th Century the bulk of the world’s tea production had moved to India.

 

Tea Production

The warm climate of the high hills in China provides the ideal growing conditions for the tea bush. When the tea bush is grown on even terraces on well drained plantations it will mature after four or five years. Then it will produce two leaves and a bud, which together make the tea leaf.


The sorting and grading is done by hand, and the freshly picked tea leaves are dried out in a pan that looks a lot like a wok. As the moisture is driven off, the leaves are gently rolled into curls which form the green tea.


Tea is produced from a bush called Camellia sinensis, which looks a lot like the bush people use to hedge their gardens. A wild tea bush can grow up to 50ft (15m) but this is impractical for tea pickers so on tea production estates the bush is kept to 4ft (1.2m).


During the growing season the tea bush will be picked once every few days to ensure that only the best young and tender tips are picked.

 

The Story of Tea

The Emperor of China, Wan Tu, an evil man, was overthrown by his first minister and banished to a remote southern part of China. He lived in disgrace and poverty and spent most of his days plotting revenge, whilst drinking boiled water in the shade of a large bush.

One day, a light wind blew a few dried leaves from the bush into his drink. He gingerly tasted the infusion and was delighted with its taste. He fell asleep, he realised that it also had mystical relaxing qualities. Indeed it was so relaxing that he spent the next seven years sitting under this bush and renouncing his past evil ways, vowing to make amends. Having discovered such tranquillity of soul he named this infusion Tai, which means peace
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