Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wu Yi Tea Documentary

In late 2009, CCTV, China's State television has made a series of 5 documentaries on Wu Yi tea. And they even translated them into English! They show the wonderful landscapes in which the best rock teas grow. There is also quite a lot of historical and cultural information. The majority of the information is good, but some of is not. Also, at times it sounds more like propaganda (or advertising) than a documentary. There's a lot to criticize, but I did find it very interesting to watch, if only just for the beauty of these sacred mountains, the origin of both red tea and Oolong tea:

Part 1
Description of Wu Yi tea's characteristics
Part 2
Wu Yi's early tea history, trade with Russia.
Part 3
Lapsang Souchong. Wu Yi's red tea and its impact on the the Western world
Part 4
Royal Tea gift, Jian bowl, tea competition.
Part 5
All about Da Hung Pao

In Part 3, the documentary mentions Robert Fortune, the Scottish botanist who stole/acquired Chinese tea plants and seeds and introduced them in India in the middle of the 19th Century. If you want to study this story in more detail, I recommend his (free, online) book "A journey to the tea countries of China, including Song-Lo and the Bohea hills". His description of Woo-e-shan in Chapter XIII shows his amazement: " I had expected to see a wonderful sight when I reached this place, but I must confess the scene far surpassed any ideas I had formed respecting it."

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