Picking Tea

I’ve been quite busy with my volunteering duties (currently teaching English to 3-15 year old children) in the first couple of weeks here in Guangshan. But during the weekend I made a couple of trips and I took a lot of pictures.

Right now there are four volunteers teaching English at Guangzhou School. Two French guys – Alex and Fabio (pictured somewhere below), Sabina and me. Through Fabio and Alex, we met Yang Bingjie a.k.a Xiao Yang. (I plan on properly introducing everyone on this blog in the near future.) On Saturday we went to the village of Xiao Yang’s grandmother which is called Xinshan. It’s around a half an hour drive from Guangshan. It is quite a rural area, the village is very small and it is surrounded by hills, which, as I understand, are collectively called DaBie Shan. A big part of Xiao Yang’s family lives there. They grow tea plants, pick tea, process and sell it. We got to witness how they do it.

Picking tea in Guangshan

Tea processing by hand

We met Xiao Yang’s grandmother, her aunts, uncles, cousins and other extended family members. We ate lunch at their house in Xinshan, hung out in the courtyard and in the old part of the house that Xiao Yang’s grandfather built himself with the help of his friendly neighbours after he got married to her grandmother. The floor in the old house is made of soil that was beat into a hard surface after many years of use.

The house where they process tea is a little bit outside of the village, a 15 minute walk. It is surrounded by rows of tea plants. We learned which parts of the plant is useful for green tea (only the youngest and thinnest leaves), and picked a few.

Picking tea

The processing of a batch of leaves takes around 5 hours. The tea goes through various phases, and for most of them they use machines. I don’t have good pictures of that part, so I think I will talk about this another time in more detail.

Tea hills

Before dinner we took a little walk to a nearby hill. It was quite warm and there was that type of light which is quite common in China (at least around Xinyang) and it exists because of pollution. You can’t really ever see the sun directly. It makes for interesting photos though.

DaBie Shan
This trip took up the whole day. They fed us, entertained us and were just generally really nice. It was refreshing for me to have a little break from school related stress, see some of the countryside and be around tea. One of my life missions: be around tea.

Big thanks to Xiao Yang for making this possible.

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