The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 5: Gardens in Asia, America, Africa, Australia

Quality of Chinese teas

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806. The different qualities of the teas depend on the seasons for gathering, and the method of preparing them. On this account different names are often given to teas grown on the same tree. The last preparation which all the teas undergo is called firing. This is putting them into cylinders of sheet iron, where they are roasted or baked before the fire, until the tea has acquired the crispness necessary to preserve it, and to make it give out its odour. The best tea, if it gets damp, loses its fine smell. The coarser teas are packed by the feet, but the finer teas are put into the box by hand, and in both cases great care is taken to choose dry weather for packing them. This operation is performed in warm rooms close shut, to exclude the least moisture. When packed, the teas are enclosed in a leaden case, which is afterwards surrounded by the dry leaves of the sugar-cane, and then put into a wooden box. A Chinese tea smeller first crushes the tea in his hand, and then breathes upon it to obtain the full smell. (Dobell's Travels, &c., vol. ii. p. 336.)