cultural thirst drives china\s tea boom
Last Updated : GMT 02:38:24
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Cultural thirst drives China\'s tea boom

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Cultural thirst drives China\'s tea boom

Hong Kong - AFP

Fifteen years ago the Lam family business picked up a consignment of aged tea from a defunct Hong Kong restaurant. Its value has since risen by a factor of 10,000, as the Lams have found themselves part of a boom that is both investment fad and cultural obsession. \"It\'s like magic,\" managing director Sam Lam told AFP as he prepared tea according to the Chinese ritual, pouring boiling water through rough leaves and then into tiny cups to drink, and spoke of the profits to be made. The tea is pu erh, a dark tea that is fermented after drying and whose taste mellows with age. Its history is thought to date back between one and two thousand years, with legends of growers in mountainous Yunnan province ferociously guarding their cultivation secrets. Over the past 20 years prices for aged pu erh have rocketed, while China has encouraged renewed development of a luxury tea culture which parallels that of wine -- partly as a source of national pride in a home-grown high-end product. With over 70,000 tea businesses in mainland China, skilled buyers must taste tea in order to assess its quality, which only increases pu erh\'s mystique and sociability. \"You can tell from the aftertaste, the smoothness,\" says Lam, pouring out cups with practised hands. The tea is sold in pressed round \"cakes\", wrapped in paper printed with bold designs that reflect the vintage of each one. Lam\'s father set up the business, Lam Kie Yuen, after moving to Hong Kong from the war-torn mainland in 1949. But the pair say it is only since the mid-nineties that the market for luxury pu erh -- also, in its less refined forms, a staple of cheap restaurants -- has exploded, with middle-class investors joining the wealthy to buy it up. The Lams are now selling tea from the 1930 to 1950 era for up to HK$200,000 (over $25,000) per 345-gram (12.2 ounce) cake, having bought much of it in cheap truckloads from dim sum restaurants that closed down. \"Growth slowed during the economic downturn, but it\'s still ongoing,\" said Sam Lam. \"As the price is rising, people are buying it less to drink, and more to collect and invest.\" But luxury pu erh is not just bought to lay aside; it is identified with proud, ancient aspects of Chinese culture, in contrast with the cheap \"made in China\" goods that have spurred the country\'s economic rise. In Hong Kong\'s hectic Mong Kok district, fashionably dressed young men gather at a calm tea house for lessons from qualified tea master Eliza Liu. \"It\'s like a drug -- I\'m addicted now,\" said student Ngan Kan Shing, 21. \"By discovering tea I feel that I\'ve learned about China.\" He has been coming to classes for six years, but says: \"I still only know the basics.\" The group examines the colour of each cup of tea before sniffing and then slurping it in respectful silence, as Liu talks them through the value of the aged tea. Grown before artificial pesticides and dried naturally rather than at a high temperature, it has a paler colour and a smoother taste. \"Good tea is produced at higher altitude, and also depends on climate,\" says Liu. \"In Yunnan, they say a tea tree can experience all four seasons in one day.\" The tea is served from small fine china tea sets, used with a tray that drains off excess water. The first cup of each brew is not drunk, as it is used to clean dust or residue from the leaves. After that, a good tea should taste different with every cup, say experts. According to China\'s state-run Global Times, one batch of top pu erh sold at auction for $250 per gram in 2002, while rare Da Hong Pao oolong can also rival such prices. But Liu and tea professor Yip Man, who taught her the art, are sceptical of the eye-popping prices paid for some teas, preferring to emphasise tea\'s longtime role in Chinese medicine and thought. \"Tea has a philosophy behind it, and it\'s about health. Tea has been very commercialised, but a cheaper tea may also be as good (as an expensive one),\" said Yip. \"The philosophy is about harmony, bringing people together, peace within the self.\" The price of pu erh is acknowledged to be boosted by a tight supply, and sceptics argue that investors buying aged pu erh may be made to look foolish as China\'s newly affluent drinkers move on to fresh fashions like Phoenix Oolong. However Lam says that although the astonishing growth of the last two decades may not be sustained, pu erh is still a good investment. He said a buyer of a good, inexpensive pu erh -- at, say, HK$100 ($13) a cake -- now could expect to make a 10 percent return in a year. \"But you have to choose the right tea,\" he said. Luxury tea houses springing up in London and Sydney indicate China might succeed in exporting its high-end tea culture. And Liu and her students feel meanwhile that they are tapping into much more than a fad. Student Ngan is evangelical about pu erh. \"Before learning about tea, a lot of my friends believed the stereotype that tea is for old people. But now I think they\'re changing their minds,\" he said.

arabstoday
arabstoday

Name *

E-mail *

Comment Title*

Comment *

: Characters Left

Mandatory *

Terms of use

Publishing Terms: Not to offend the author, or to persons or sanctities or attacking religions or divine self. And stay away from sectarian and racial incitement and insults.

I agree with the Terms of Use

Security Code*

cultural thirst drives china\s tea boom cultural thirst drives china\s tea boom

 



Name *

E-mail *

Comment Title*

Comment *

: Characters Left

Mandatory *

Terms of use

Publishing Terms: Not to offend the author, or to persons or sanctities or attacking religions or divine self. And stay away from sectarian and racial incitement and insults.

I agree with the Terms of Use

Security Code*

cultural thirst drives china\s tea boom cultural thirst drives china\s tea boom

 



Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today Jordanian woman reveals her project

GMT 00:46 2017 Saturday ,11 November

Jordanian woman reveals her project
Arab Today, arab today The Big Apple bike boom

GMT 10:47 2017 Wednesday ,22 November

The Big Apple bike boom
Arab Today, arab today Keep kids busy at Thanksgiving gatherings

GMT 11:14 2017 Friday ,10 November

Keep kids busy at Thanksgiving gatherings
Arab Today, arab today Leaders of Russia, Iran, Turkey meet

GMT 10:12 2017 Wednesday ,22 November

Leaders of Russia, Iran, Turkey meet
Arab Today, arab today 'Advanced' cyber attack targets Saudi Arabia

GMT 10:18 2017 Wednesday ,22 November

'Advanced' cyber attack targets Saudi Arabia
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today Australian academic's book pulled

GMT 15:20 2017 Monday ,13 November

Australian academic's book pulled
Arab Today, arab today May under Brexit pressure at EU reform summit

GMT 02:14 2017 Saturday ,18 November

May under Brexit pressure at EU reform summit
Arab Today, arab today Delhi half-marathon to go ahead

GMT 03:51 2017 Saturday ,18 November

Delhi half-marathon to go ahead
Arab Today, arab today The history of solar eclipses

GMT 05:16 2017 Sunday ,20 August

The history of solar eclipses
Arab Today, arab today Honda recalls 800,000 minivans

GMT 11:43 2017 Wednesday ,22 November

Honda recalls 800,000 minivans
Arab Today, arab today VW says will invest over 34bn euros

GMT 07:19 2017 Tuesday ,21 November

VW says will invest over 34bn euros
Arab Today, arab today Singer Jahda Wahba has unlimited ambitions

GMT 07:56 2017 Monday ,20 November

Singer Jahda Wahba has unlimited ambitions
Arab Today, arab today paObama climate envoy slams Trump's rejection

GMT 16:04 2017 Friday ,17 November

paObama climate envoy slams Trump's rejection

GMT 09:23 2017 Saturday ,18 November

Fedra happy for “Between Two Worlds” success

GMT 11:15 2017 Thursday ,16 November

Angola oil boss sacked by father's protege

GMT 18:41 2017 Friday ,20 October

Designer Aql Faqih aspires to innovation

GMT 11:38 2017 Wednesday ,15 November

Unloved vultures fight for their survival

GMT 11:49 2017 Thursday ,17 August

Egyptian artist presents new collection of designs

GMT 13:41 2017 Tuesday ,21 November

French choke up over proposal

GMT 00:44 2017 Monday ,20 November

Japanese regulators raid Airbnb

GMT 17:12 2017 Monday ,07 August

Al-Shawaifi reveals secrets of total solar eclipse

GMT 16:53 2017 Tuesday ,05 September

Youssra depended on colored foam
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
 
 Arab Today Facebook,arab today facebook  Arab Today Twitter,arab today twitter Arab Today Rss,arab today rss  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube
arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday
arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday
arabstoday
بناية النخيل - رأس النبع _ خلف السفارة الفرنسية _بيروت - لبنان
arabstoday, Arabstoday, Arabstoday