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China: The Wonderful World of Tea

The Berlin organic tea and coffee company Ökotopia has many excellent loose organic teas from China on offer and regularly visits its local suppliers. In spring 2019 a small group of tea experts will set off for China. The whole variety of Chinese organic teas is the focus of the two-week trip through tea gardens in southern and central China. We will get many impressions of the life of the people in China, of the culture and the lifestyle of today. An exciting, diverse and colourful journey to get closer to the secrets of the Chinese tea culture.

The fascination of tea culture

China is considered the country of origin of tea. According to legend, the history of the tea plant, Camilla Sinensis, begins in 2737 B.C. It happened to the emperor Shen Nung that a gust of wind blew some leaves from a tea bush into his kettle of hot water. According to legend, the leaves coloured the water golden and gave it a wonderful aroma. The wonderfully refreshing drink spread around the court and in Buddhist monasteries. Soon it became the most important drink in China. Later it began its triumphal journey around the globe.

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Many positive effects

Green tea has become a trend beverage. Its popularity has grown steadily over the past 15 years. Today almost a third of tea drinkers prefer green tea to black tea. These tea lovers are enthusiastic about the fine taste nuances offered by selected loose green tea. Quite a few drink green tea also because of its positive effect on our health. In numerous studies, scientists have found that valuable ingredients are retained in the green, non-fermented tea leaves. (For example, polyphenolic flavonoids, which have an antioxidant function and thus have positive effects on the immune system, cell protection, heart and metabolism.) Green tea is a supplier of a number of minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium and, among others, vitamins C, B2, E and folic acid. Plenty of fluorine and manganese are good for teeth and bones.

During our visits, we wander through the tea gardens, observe the artistic arrangement of the hedges, feel the delicate light green first leaves and buds after winter. When everything is in bloom in spring, the artistically arranged plantations are like a living work of plant art to the eye.

In Hubei province, in the heart of central China, a beautiful landscape awaits us: mountains, forests, untouched nature and of course tea gardens. The big river Jantsekiang crosses Hubei. Organic has also arrived here and large areas are spared from pesticide spraying. The workers in the gardens and nature are grateful. The ferns and weeds in the corridors between the wide tea bushes are mown or weeded by hand. The plantations are fertilised with compost or mulch and certified organic natural fertilisers, e.g. soya meal.

What we see in the plantations convinces us. Far away from industry and big cities, the tea gardens are mostly in mountainous areas. Where the air is cool, moist and clean or in high valleys with clear watercourses and morning mist.

The fascinating thousands of year-old culture is very close to many Chinese people, still today. A cup of tea is part of the daily routine. Also in the western world more and more people prefer green tea to coffee. Organic green tea in particular is in demand, so that Chinese organic tea growers and processors are pleased about growing export volumes.

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