Coventry exchange students experience Chinese tea culture

When a group of students from Coventry University were told that their Saturday would be spent visiting a tea museum, reservations were present in most minds.

Following a trip to the incredibly beautiful West Lake, the students were to pack onto the sweltering coach and move on to the Hangzhou National Tea Museum. As such a prominently consumed beverage for the English, the thought of hearing about such a thing seemed dull to say the least. But to their surprise, the day offered much more than first expected. Writes Kimberley Hall…

Known as the birthplace of tea, China boasts the longest history of tea culture in the world. Opened in 1991, the tea museum is located in Longjing Village, just west of the charming West Lake. On viewing the lake, city folk like Coventry University students had the opportunity to experience some of the truly beautiful and traditional Chinese scenery, something many rarely get the chance to observe. With Coventry being known as the ‘concrete city’, for many of those visiting West Lake the views were astonishing. But after spending time at such a graceful sight, the students’ enthusiasm towards the planned trip to the tea museum was anything but rocketing.

After a bumpy ride and with tired eyes, the students finally arrived at Hangzhou National Tea Museum. Stepping off of the coach, the group of 20+ students could barely believe their eyes. Stood in the scorching heat of Chinese spring, the students looked on at the illusive beauty of the museum and it’s surroundings. Taking in the beauty of the rolling hills and tumbling lakes, Tim Watson, a third year Journalism and Media student at the University said: “It makes you forget your problems. Things seem so irrelevant and unimportant when you consider what’s out there and what we’re missing. We worry about what clothes we wear and what brands we have, when there’s so much more out there to think about. It scares me that this may all be ruined one day”.

After being given the chance to roam around the tea fields, watching the tea-pickers perform their routine daily tasks, the students were taken aback by the sheer magnificence of it all. The tea museum provided a fascinating and unexpected insight to the production and cultivation of traditional Chinese tea.

What’s interesting to note is all the tea-pickers are women. They have softer and more delicate hands suited to the job, while the men traditionally deal with the more rigorous task of roasting the tea leaves.

Fatima Ahmed, second year Journalism and Media student, said: “It’s amazing. I know i’ll never come here again, so it’s a really good experience. I’m seeing things that I’ve never seen before, and will probably never get the chance to see again. I’ve seen two different sides of China – I’ve seen the cultural side, and I’ve seen the city side as well”.

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Filed under China Trip 2011

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