The tea manufacturers of Canton are said to
possess the art of giving tea that has been frequently used, or
spoiled by rain, the appearance of good tea. They dry and roast the
leaves, colour them yellow with powdered kurkumni, or light green
with Prussian blue, and then roll them tightly up. The price of the
tea sent to Europe varies from fifteen to sixty dollars (3 to 12
pounds) a pikul, of 134 lb. English weight. The kind at sixty
dollars does not find a very ready market; the greater part of it is
exported to England. The "bloom" is not met with in trade.
I must mention a sight which I accidentally saw, one evening, upon
the Pearl stream. It was, as I afterwards heard, a thanksgiving
festival in honour of the gods, by the owners of two junks that had
made a somewhat long sea voyage without being pillaged by pirates,
or overtaken by the dangerous typhoon.
Two of the largest flower boats, splendidly illuminated, were
floating gently down the stream. Three rows of lamps were hung
round the upper part of the vessels, forming perfect galleries of
fire; all the cabins were full of chandeliers and lamps, and on the
forecastle large fires were burning out of which rockets darted at
intervals with a loud report, although they only attained the
elevation of a few feet.