BEIJING, March 20 -- Among the many kinds of tea in China, perhaps the most well-known is the Longjing green tea grown in Hangzhou of East China's Zhejiang Province.
The aroma of the leaves as they are tossed and turned in a large wok is enough to melt the exhaustion of a hard day's work in the fields, avers one migrant worker in Wenjiashan of Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province.
(Photo: China Daily)
Currently priced at some 4,000 yuan (517 U.S. dollars) per kilogram, the fresh Longjing tea picked and dried before April 5 is a traditional top-ranking gift among the Chinese.
For migrant tea pickers, tea farmers and teahouse managers, however, the famed tea means more than the enchanting fragrance.
Every March, Luo Jinying travels from her hometown of Quzhou to Wenjiashan where she works as a tea picker for a local planter.
Longjing, or Dragon Well Tea, known as the best green tea in the country, has long been grown in the mountains around West Lake in Hangzhou. Its production dates back almost 1,200 years.
Wenjiashan is one of the main Longjing tea-growing areas in the city, and covers 43 hectares.
For thousands of years, tea drinking has been linked with the idea of harmony with nature and distancing from worldly concerns.
(Photo: China Daily)
Green tea is growing faster than ever this year, owing to the unusually warm winter. So Luo has been called back earlier by the planter to help harvest the tea.
The 40-year-old Zhejiang native gets up at 6 am. After a simple breakfast, she and 10 other tea pickers head for the fields nearby, with a bamboo basket tied around the waist and a bamboo hat to keep off the sun.
They disperse into the terraced green hills, where the tea plants grow to no more than one meter. Each picker is responsible for a single row. Once this is done, it's on to the next row.
According to Luo, the traditional way to harvest the tea is to use the left hand to push away the branches to reveal the new tea leaves, then pluck them with the right hand from the top to the side, or from the outside to the inside.
"The ideal tea pickers are young girls, who are dexterous with their hands and work neatly," said Luo.
However, the young country girls, many of whom are well schooled, show little interest in this temporary job. They prefer to work stable hours in factories in the city, she said.