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Culture Of Tea

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Thegreat teadistricts of China are situated atnong the mountains and hills sevenü hundred miles from the sea-coast. The culture oí the lea is carried on prineipally by families and individuáis wliose tea farms or "aardens" rarely exceed one or two acres. Though sometimes called "plantations," they never approach, in extent, the notton orricc plantations of our Southern States. The real business of the country people is raising rice for food; but they cultívate tea and silk as extras to obtain poeket-money. ïhere is but one common tea-plant noin which all the varities known to iommerce are made. J! ut for the sake of convenience, and from custom, the manufacture óf different kinds, such as Oolong, Congou ,Souchong, Green, and Sther sorts, ia generally carried on in separate districts, the workmen preferring to make such as "their fathers made," and with which they are most familiar. The distinction in teas is due to the process of manufacture (i.e., drying and preparing it for consumption and export, and not to the leaf itself. Green toas retain their natural color Erom being quickly roasted over a hot üreimmediatly after they are gathered. Black teas are allowed to stand for somc time in heaps to wilt, and some varieties to slightly ferment, when they are slowly dried over a charcoal lire, and after liaving been partially dried by the sun. These different methods of curing imparta to tea from the same plañís the peculiarities offlavor obsevved in various sorts. The twist, or style of the leaf, is varied by the manner of manipulation or rolling in the hands wliile drying or roasting. The tea season opens in the southern district early in April, when the "first picking," which is much the best, takes place. Travellers teil of tea drank in China valued there at twenty dollars per pound. Such tea is made from yo'mg buds just bursting into leaves, one pound of whicli c ontains all the active principie of the ten pounds which the same leaf would make when f uil grown. Of course such tea would be too expensive for common use. The nrst regular erop is gathered when the leaves have attained froni one-quarter to one-half of their full size ; the younger growth being finer in quality and less inquantity, and therefore more expensive. ÜSiuw crops of leaves follow the iirst. These are also gathered and cured as fast as large enough. Ten days or a fortnight of good weather will bring each growth to proper maturity. The scattering leaves left on the plant, after each pieking beeome mixed with subsequent gatherings, and being older, lessen their value. As the hot weather of midsummer approacbes, the final harvest takes place. )ijaní,'tiYiu iVií i LÍiv-ftVi'A'i i. 'íbaveff.iuáhy f theni old and dead arestripped from tie shrubs and made up to look as well, o the iiiexperianced eye, as the "Iirst ieking," This last erop is packed "exressly for export," and much of the ea brought to this country consists fsuchstuff. It is of mt little more alue as a beverage than ai) infusión f sonie of the savory herbs whicli row wild in our flelds, and not half o palatable.


Old News
Michigan Argus