10 VARIETIES OF TEA

It has been already observed (Sect. VI.) that many different sortments of Tea are made during the times of collecting the leaves; and these are multiplied according to the goodness of their preparation, by which the varieties of Tea may be considerably augmented[38]. The distinctions with us are much more limited, being generally confined to three principal kinds of green, and five of bohea.

I. Those of the former are,

  1. Bing, imperial, or bloom Tea, with a large loose leaf, of a light green colour, and faint delicate smell.
  2. Hy-tiann, hi-kiong, or hayssuen, known to us by the name of Hyson Tea, so called after an East-India merchant of that name, who first imported it into Europe. The leaves are closely curled and small, of a green colour, verging towards blue[39].

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iii. Singlo, or songlo, which name it receives, like many other Teas, from the place where it is cultivated.

II. The bohea Teas.

  1. Soochuen, or sutchong, by the Chinese called saatyang, and sact-chaon, or su-tyann, is a superior kind of long-fou Tea. It imparts a yellowish green colour, by infusion[40].
  2. Camho, or soumlo, called after the name of the place where it is gathered; a fragrant Tea with a violet smell. Its infusion is pale.

iii. Cong-fou, congo, or bong-fo. This has a larger leaf than the following, and the infusion is a little deeper coloured. It resembles the common bohea in the colour of the leaf[41].

  1. Pekao, pecko, or pekoe, by the Chinese called back-ho, or pack-ho. It is known by having the appearance of small white flowers intermixed with it.
  2. Common bohea, called moji by the Chinese, consists of leaves of one colour[42].

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III. There has also been imported a sort of Tea, in balls, of a different form from any of the preceding, made up into cakes or balls of different sizes, by the Chinese called Poncultcha.

  1. The largest kind of this cake Tea, that I have seen, weighs about two ounces; the infusion and taste resemble those of good bohea Tea.
  2. Another sort, which is a kind of green Tea, is called tio tè: it is rolled up in a round shape, about the size of peas, and sometimes as large as a nutmeg.

iii. The smallest kind done in this form is called gun-powder Tea.

  1. Sometimes the succulent Tea leaves are twisted into cords like packthread, about an inch and a half or two inches long; and usually three of these are tied together at the ends by different-coloured silk threads. These resemble little bavins, one of which might suffice for tea for one person. I have seen them both of green and bohea Tea.

The Chinese likewise prepare an extract from Tea, which they exhibit as a medicine dissolved in a large quantity of water, and ascribe to it many powerful effects in fevers and other disorders, when they wish to procure a plentiful sweat. This extract is sometimes formed into small cakes, not much broader than a sixpence, sometimes into rolls of a considerable size.

That there is only one species of Tea tree, has already been mentioned (Sect. I.) from which all the varieties of Tea are[41] procured. Kæmpfer, who is of this opinion, attributes the difference of Teas to the soil and culture of the plant, age of the leaves when gathered, and method of curing them[43]. These circumstances will severally have more or less influence; though whether they account for all the varieties observable in Tea may be doubted. The bohea Tea trees, now introduced into many botanic gardens near London, exhibit very obvious varieties. The leaves are of a deeper green colour, and not so deeply serrated; the stalk is usually of a darker colour, and the whole shrub appears less luxuriant as represented in the annexed plate of the bohea Tea; but the botanical characters are the same.

 

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