Tea Leaves Book- 2

Much has been said and written in contention upon this latter



assertion, and books may be quoted upon either side of the


question, but we make the statement without qualification and


upon unquestionable authority.






As Chinese teas became known to the inhabitants of other parts of


Asia, and to Europeans, curiosity and commercial interests


impelled other races to seek information concerning the origin


and treatment of different Chinese teas. The prices obtained by


the Chinese from foreigners for teas two and three centuries ago


were most exorbitant, and paid the Chinese Government and Chinese


merchants an enormous profit. Quite naturally that sagacious


nation saw the danger of letting the truth concerning the origin,


manufacture and cost of their most precious commodity pass into


the possession of other people, and they strove to prevent


foreigners from penetrating to their inland tea gardens, while


they plied inquisitive enquirers with fairy tales which were


eagerly swallowed. They said that every different kind of tea was


the product of a different species of plant, which bore a


different name, and that the manufacture was a most intricate


process depending upon secrets confined to a very few; that the


leaves could safely be plucked only at certain phases of the


moon, and at certain hours of the day, and that some delicate


varieties of tea leaves were plucked only by young maidens, etc.


They even allowed Europeans to believe that green tea was colored


by salts of copper, on copper plates, having doubtless learned


that their were European merchants who would not be deterred from


vending poisonous foods provided a good fat profit attended the


transaction. In short, they practiced some of the dissimulation


and tricks of trade to which many merchants were addicted.






To particularize further, and yet generalize at the same time, we


will say here that the Tea plant or tree is greatly modified in


hardiness, in height, in size of leaf, and in the quality of the


leaf for a beverage, by soil, by moisture, tillage, and climate.


Some soils and some climates develop a tea plant decidedly more


suitable for a green tea than for a black tea, and vice-versa.


The Formosa Oolong, with its natural flowery fragrance is a


product of a peculiar soil, said to be a clay topped with rich


humus. Analysis would probably disclose peculiarities in that


soil not yet found in other tea districts. In removal to other


soils and other localities, the Formosa Tea plant loses its most


precious characteristic, its sweet flowery aroma and taste. The


total product of this tea is but 18,000,000 lbs. per annum, an


insignificant quantity compared with the aggregate crops of


Chinese or of Indian tea gardens. If the exceptional


characteristics of Formosa Oolong accompanied the plant when


removed to other localities, its cultivation would quickly become


greatly extended.






What is known or believed concerning the remote history of Tea


and of its dissemination among other nations than the Chinese and


Japanese, has been told so often that its recapitulation becomes


tedious to those who are familiar with the story. But this book


is intended for the general reader, and for the purpose of


collecting and welding together disconnected and floating facts


and scraps of tea literature gathered from many sources.


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