Tea picking for T?

The act of drinking tea, and Tea houses are a valuable part of the Chinese culture, so I decided to enjoy an afternoon of visiting an old-school chinese town called Ling Pe and experience the highly recommended art of tea picking.

Accompanying me on this tour are 2 German men, Bernard and Christoph, and a couple from the UK, Helen and Ed.

Our Chinese driver, who can speak only chinese, takes us to Liz’s Courthouse, which accommodates a lush green tea plantation up on a hill surrounded by bamboo forests with an amazing view over the countryside. He begins informing and instructing us on how to pick a good tea leaf as we all got to work.

Priding myself on being the kind of person who appreciates all sorts of cultural activities and has a keen interest for a vast range of topics, I listen intently with the ears of a dedicated student and went about my tea picking with a forced enthusiasm.

Unexpectedly, after my initial questions (How do you harvest? Is this green tea? How much do you sell it for? and Can you smoke it?) and after 5 minutes of practical, I found myself getting distracted, the mosquito’s were bugging me. I wondered fearfully if there were any venemous snakes or spiders lurking near my feet? I was irritated that my trekking shoes were getting extremely muddy.

T, thinking – Ok, you’re not getting into the experience, just calm down and try to see the joy in it that everyone else can. Be one with nature. It’s like meditating, just breathe and do the activity. Be one with the picking. Yoga zen yoga zen yoga zen..tolerance tolerance tolerance… (Tummy growls) God, I’m STARVING!

I shamefully and disappointedly admitted to myself that I had no interest in the activity and was completely and utterly BORED, and starving because I was bored. I was done pretending to be a happy tea picking hippy and could have easily learnt this from television as I flicked past the tea harvesting channel.

I broke the (supposedly) tranquil silence and ask Bernard, who I admired for his ability to speak 4 languages and the fact that he was in China to perform as a musician at a charity event, to ask the driver how long more did we have to do this for and, more importantly, when was lunch going to be served?

Bernhard – ‘Now. He must have heard your prayers’

T – ‘I started praying an hour ago’

Bernhard, laughing – ‘I know, 20 minutes would have been enough’

T, smiling but thinking – More like 2 seconds.

What I have learnt about myself? I enjoy drinking the tea that other people skilfully cultivate and harvest. And that learning to meditate in India could go either way, but if I can master it, will be an extremely handy skill to have.

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