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rally planted and kept in order by members of his own family. The Chinese cottages amongst the hills are rude and simple in their construction, nevertheless it is in these poor cottages that a large proportion of the teas, with their high-sounding names, are prepared. Barns and sheds are also frequently used for the same purpose. The shrubs are planted in rows, with an interval of about four feet from shrub to shrub, and the same interval between the rows, and look in the distance like little shrubberies of evergreens. The mode of gathering and preparing the leaves of the tea-plant is extremely simple. In the month of May the principal gathering takes place, although the first crop of leaves is generally gathered about the middle of April. This consists of the young leaf-buds just as they begin to unfold; but the picking of the leaves in such a young state does considerable injury to the plant, and the tea which is procured in this way is scarce and expensive. In a fortnight or three weeks from the time of the first picking, the shrubs, moistened by the summer rains, which fall plentifully at this season, are again covered with leaves, and then the most important season of tea harvest begins. The cottage doors are locked, and all proceed to the hills with their baskets, and commence plucking the leaves this business only goes on during fine days when the leaves are dry.
WHEN the leaves are brought home from the hills, they are at first
emptied into large flat bamboo
sieves, and, provided the day is not too bright, are exposed in the open air, to dry off the moisture. The leaves are then brought in, and thrown into a flat round iron pan, and exposed to the heat of a gentle fire, which is lighted below them. As soon as the heat reaches them they give out a large quantity of moisture, with a crackling noise, and they soon become soft and pliant. The person who attends to them, stirs them about with his hands, and in about five minutes takes them out, and puts in a fresh supply.
The beated leaves are emptied out into a flat bamboo sieve, which is placed on a table, then the process of rolling commences; three or four persons take a portion of the heated leaves, and begin to squeeze and roll them. They do this as a baker works and rolls up his dough. very same way; the object being to press out the sap and moisture, and to twist the leaves. Two or three times during the operation, the little bundles of rolled leaves are shaken out upon the table, and then taken up and pressed and rolled as before. This part of the process also lasts about five minutes, during which a large portion of green juice has been pressed out, and may be seen running down between the bamboos.
Both hands are used in the
The leaves are then shaken out thinly, and again exposed on a sort of screen of bamboo to the action of the air. The best days for this purpose are those which are dry and cloudy. After being exposed for an hour or two, they are brought indoors, and the drying begins. The flat pan in which they were first heated is now removed, and a bamboo sieve takes its
place; a very slow fire of wood or charcoal is kept up; the remainder of the moisture is thus removed from the leaves. After a few minutes the sieve is lifted out and placed in one of a larger size, with a closer bottom. Both sieves are now placed over the flue, and the leaves are carefully watched and turned over for about an hour, when the tea is considered properly fired.
Our common black tea, after heating and rolling, is left sometimes for three or four days before it is fired, which is one cause why the colour of the tea is so much darker than those kinds which are prepared from the same plant, but more quickly dried; black tea is also exposed to a greater degree of fire-heat. After the tea has been sufficiently dried, it is sifted and picked over, and then packed up for the market.
With regard to green teas, there can be no doubt, that those used by the Chinese themselves are of a genuine colour, which they acquire in the drying, and that those "blooming" kinds commonly sold as green teas are very many of them dyed. It is proved that most of the black and green teas, brought yearly from China to Europe, are obtained from exactly the same plant.
There are several different kinds of scented flowers grown in particular districts by the Chinese for the purpose of mixing with and perfuming tea. These flowers are dried by themselves and then mixed with the tea.
When the teas are ready for sale, the large teamerchants or their servants come out from the principal towns of the district, and take up their quarters in all the little inns or eating-houses. As soon as the merchants are known to have arrived in the district, the tea-growers bring their produce for sale
When they arrive at the place where the merchant is residing, the baskets are opened before him, and the tea inspector, if he is pleased with the appearance and scent of it, and the parties agree about the price, proceeds to purchase; the tea is weighed, and the money paid down, and the grower gets his strings of copper money slung over his shoulder, and returns. to his farm. But should the price offered appear too low, the baskets are immediately shouldered and carried away to some opposition merchant. It sometimes happens that a merchant makes a contract with some of the tea-growers before the season commences, in which case part of the money is paid in advance.
THE OWL AND THE FARMER.
AN Owl, the gravest of his race,
The solemn bird, with pride replete,
The school had fame; the crowded place
With these the swan's maternal care
The spider, of ingenious turn,
Was not asham'd her son should learn :
"The swan," says he, "in arms shall shine; The soldier's glorious toil be thine. The cock shall mighty wealth attain:
Go, seek it on the stormy main.
Shall vie with Handel's honour'd name."
A farmer, at his folly mov'd,
The dull preceptor thus reprov'd:
Blockhead," says he, "by what you've done,
You thus have ruined every one:
Parents and friends, who are not blind,
What this, what th' other child shall be.
The blockhead had appear'd an ass." GAY.
*Handel.] A famous composer of music.