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.

No comments:

Post a Comment