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Putting the tea into charity

By Yu Ran (China Daily)

08:49, August 27, 2012

The Hongriting tea stand in a street in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province. It offers free tea to passers-by everyday to cool locals during the summer heat. The Hongriting tea stand has been open every summer for the past 40 years. (Sun xinjian / For China Daily)

Volunteers give free cooling cuppas to ward off summer heat

Wang A'nong has spent the past 20 summers offering free Chinese herbal tea to passers-by from a stall on a street in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province.

Wang, 75, starts making the refreshing beverage at 4 am every morning to ensure that anyone who passes by can have a free cup to fight off the fierce heat.

"I used to make tea for my neighbors and friends in the summer to kill off the heat. Now the habit has spread to become an act of street charity with help from volunteers," said Wang, the major organizer of the Hongriting tea stand, one of the most famous tea stands, which first opened more than 40 years ago in the city.

Wang added that all the people working at the stand are volunteers - mostly retired workers and young students.

The Chinese herbal tea, called fucha in Chinese, is a traditional drink made by boiling dozens of Chinese herbs including honeysuckle, self-heal and liquorice, which have a cooling effect on the body.

Wang is the one who has to spend about two hours every day mixing the dozens of herbs and putting them in tea bags by hand to make sure the tea is always fresh.

"In order to make sure the tea is properly boiled for drinking, we have to add water and stir the tea at the same time when we make the tea in the early morning," said Wang.

Supplying free tea during the summer is an old tradition in the countryside dating back to ancient times, when villagers put tea pots in summerhouses along the road for passers-by to drink. The tradition has been kept by Wenzhou residents for hundreds of years.

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