Disappearing beauty: Picking and roasting tea by hand
2018-04-09 10:52:00

Hangzhou is globally known for itsnatural beauty, tea fields that stretch for miles and its famous West Lake Longjing tea. It's harvested once a year in early April around China's traditional Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day.

Tea represents a slow lifestyle, but the making of it is a race against time.

“Every day, we start from 6:00 o'clock in the morning and work until 6:30 in the evening,” tea farmer Tang Chunyin told CGTN.

A typical tea picking lady around Hangzhou West Lake /CGTN Photo

Almost all the tea pickers are female, as males are either plowing in spring or roasting the tea at home. Harvesters have fewer than 20 days to pick the tender tea leaves, which just sprouted in early April.

Later this month, heavy rain and rising temperatures will make them overgrow and lose their aroma.

During spring in the south of China, the weather changes quickly during the day. Either under scorching sun to drizzling rain, bamboo hats protect the tea pickers from the heat and rain.

While some farmers are already using machines to harvest, here in Hangzhou, people believe the premium quality of Longjing has to be handpicked.

“During the picking season, you have to pick the bud and both its adjacent leaves together, in order to make their shapes look desirable after being roasted,” Tang Chunyin said. It’s called by tea lovers “two leaves with one bud.”

“After all these years, the skills have already become part of me,” Tang Chunyin said.

Source: CGTN Editor: Hiram