Before I Left, The Proprietor Conducted Me Into His House, And
Treated Me To A Cup Of Tea Prepared After The Fashion In Which It Is
Usually Drunk By Rich And Noble Chinese.
A small quantity was
placed in a China cup, boiling water poured upon it, and the cup
then closed with a tightly-fitting cover.
In a few seconds the tea
is then drank and the leaves left at the bottom. The Chinese take
neither sugar, rum, nor milk with their tea; they say that anything
added to it, and even the stirring of it, causes it to lose its
aroma; in my cup, however, a little sugar was put.
The tea-plant, which I saw in the plantations round about Canton,
was at most six feet high; it is not allowed to grow any higher, and
is consequently cut at intervals. Its leaves are used from the
third to the eighth year; and the plant is then cut down, in order
that it may send forth new shoots, or else it is rooted out. There
are three gatherings in the year; the first in March, the second in
April, and the third, which lasts for three months, in May. The
leaves of the first gathering are so delicate and fine that they
might easily be taken for the blossom, which has no doubt given rise
to the error that the so-called "bloom or imperial tea" is supposed
not to consist of the leaves but of the blossom itself.
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