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Mountains with heart (3)

(China Daily)

12:30, May 23, 2013

The 600-year-old paper-making craft still thrives in Baishuihe village in Guiyang. (Photo by Feng Yongbin/China Daily)

Tea country has a more subtle, enchanting allure. The rolling hills are not awe-inspiring like the mountains but they are easier on the eye.

The picking season is April to October, and each plant will produce a new leaf every two weeks or so. A leaf picked in Guizhou can be in Beijing within about 40 hours but certain steps have to be taken first.

After picking it is allowed to dry naturally for a few hours, then it is stirred, not shaken, mechanically to give it shape before being shaken to dry it further. After this, it is rattled in what looks like a cement mixer to enhance its flavor.

Once packaged, off it goes for a shelf life before floating invitingly in a cup or glass.

Tea has a special place in Chinese and world history, but only now is green tea getting a bit of the global publicity it deserves.

I am a coffee lover but there are times in the day when I could be unfaithful to the bean, especially in the restful hours after 6 pm when green tea would settle the frayed nerves of a hard day's night.

The province's chili fields are no place for questionable nerves, either. Planted in the spring and picked in the autumn, each plant can produce 200 blood-red chilies. Thirty percent of chilies on sale in Beijing come from the province, shipped within 28 days of picking.

The following day, in bright sunshine, our plans were back on track.

We traveled to a paper-making village, cradled by steep granite gorges. For 600 years the village of Baishuihe in Guiyang, has been cutting and stripping bamboo, mixing it with plum juice, pulping, hanging and drying it out. The paper for ancestral offerings can also be used for calligraphy. It costs 12 yuan ($2) a kilogram. Nature's bounty.

Then onto a nearby Bouyei village that was expecting us for a meal. No guilt here while we hammered the rice, as if it was trying to emerge from the underworld, into a sticky substance, which was then peppered with seeds and eaten in small handfuls.

Maidens fair, in traditional blue costume, offered us rice wine and food. We drank, they sang. This side of paradise? The lines were blurring, we may have stepped over.

Tiny cups were raised to lips and then turned upside down to show that no alcohol remained. Both a tribute and a delightful challenge.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:GaoYinan、Chen Lidan)

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