The Garden Guide

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

Tea harvesting in China

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804. The first gathering of the leaves begins about the middle of April, and continues to the end or May ; the second, or principal gathering, is from midsummer to the end of July ; the last, which is inferior, during the months of August and September. When the leaves are gathered, they are put into wide shallow baskets or bamboo sieves, placed on shelves in the air, or wind, or mild sunshine, from morning till noon ; then, on a flat cast-iron pan, over a charcoal stove, ten or twelve ounces of the leaves are thrown at a time, stirred quickly with a short hand-broom twice or thrice, and then brushed off again into the baskets, in which they are equally and carefully rubbed between men's hands to roll them; after which, they are again put in the pan in larger quantities, over a slower fire, to be dried a second time. When dried enough by fire heat, the tea is laid on tables to be drawn or picked over, putting aside all the unsightly and imperfectly dried leaves, in order that the sample may be more even and marketable. The finer kinds of tea are dried as soon as they are gathered, in bamboo sieves, over a very slow fire; but the common black tea is suffered to remain several days before it is exposed to fire heat; and this gives the leaves their dark colour and somewhat coarse taste.