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Tea traditions spring back (2)

By Zhao Ruixue (China Daily)

08:29, September 12, 2012

A tea stand beside Black Tiger Spring sells at least 300 bowls of dawan cha on weekdays and more during weekends. (China Daily/Ju Chuanjiang)

"We sell at least 300 bowls on weekdays and more during weekends," the tea stand owner at Black Tiger Spring says. His stand is simply equipped, with six tables, dozens of big bowls, three huge teapots, a disinfecting cabinet and several buckets to replenish the spring water supply when it runs out.

A yellow pennant with red letters flies high above the stall, greeting guests and telling them where they can enjoy a big bowl of tea.

But, the tea now sells for 2 yuan a bowl, still cheap considering that the average salary is now about 100 times more than in the 1980s when dawan cha cost 2 cents.

What makes the tea in Jinan special is the water, collected from famous springs around the tea stands.

"I heard that the tea brewed with spring water tastes different, so I wanted to try it while I am here," Zhang Guoliang from Jining says.

Like all good things, it's the ambience that sets the mood. With a big bowl of tea in their hands, shaded by the gently swaying willows, the tea drinkers can also participate in the community activities. They can enjoy folk performances, or even practice their English.

The English corner held here each Sunday has attracted hundreds of people.

"It's a good place to get close to nature and people come here with their families, interact in the English corner, or taste the tea," says Craig Harter from the United States.

His friend Wang Chao adds: "It's a good combination of the traditional and the modern."

According to statistics from the Jinan government, the spring water is rich in trace elements and minerals, and good for health. That is why Jinan residents come here to collect water, every morning, religiously.

Yu Weimin, 71, is among them, and he travels to Black Tiger Spring by bus every day to collect the water.

There are dozens of small springs around the Black Tiger Spring and they all taste different, according to Yu.

"The water is softer and sweeter at a few of the springs," Yu says, speaking from experience. He has been using spring water since his childhood. "My mother cooked with spring water and we cleaned towels in the spring water."

He is still fascinated by the magic of the water. He says dirty towels can be totally cleaned in the spring water, without any soap at all.

"The springs are nature's gifts to Jinan," Yu says.

【1】 【2】

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