The world seems to revolve around tea these days, and who would know this better than a Chinese translator or Chinese interpreter? After a busy season of document translation and simultaneous translating, our personnel like to take a break from interpreting. Agencies like Capital Linguists know the value of rest and relaxation for their staff. After a decent break, they return to the interpreters’ service fresher and more professional than ever!
We found returning interpreters and translators, whether our Korean interpreter, our Japanese translation team or the Chinese translators working on our certified translation service team, were regaling us with tales of “tea tourism.”
Lately, we’ve been hearing about trips to visit tea growing locations around the world, especially to Japanese, Korean and Chinese plantations.
Tea tourism ranges from super luxury- staying in a former plantation house that has been restored to its colonial glory- to village home stays for a first-hand experience of local culture.
For anyone who loves tea, the stays are a memorable experience. Visitors get to try some of the best tea in the world and participate in a wide variety of activities, such as visiting tea gardens to pick and make tea, tea plant biology symposiums, tea factory tours, encounters with experts on tea ceremonies and tea trade, and touring urban tea markets.
Seeing the process of making tea is unforgettable! The workers pick no more than two or three leaves at a time, working throughout the day. Then the leaves are brought back from the field for processing, to be withered, rolled, dried, sorted and packaged. And of course, everyone brings home souvenir packages of tea!
There is something magical, marvelous and mysterious about visiting the location of a tea plantation. Always far from the hustle and bustle of the cities and towns, they are wind-swept and misty. Some tea plantations are situated to offer hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, traditional dancing, golf, and tennis. And all in a setting of transcendent views of nature and the surrounding countryside.
Some translators perform remote document translation services while living in or near a tea plantation. They ride into the nearest telephone shop to transmit their work to the translation company. But there is no translation agency that would refuse the quality of their work.
Taiwan (or Formosa) is revered for its Oolong teas. Due to the climate and elevation of the tea farms, Taiwan produces some of the world’s finest Dark and Green Oolongs. There are various levels of fermentation depending on the plantation and the tea is classified according to the degree of fermentation.
Taiwan, formerly known as Formosa, is located in the tropics, and the high humidity and altitude on the island are ideal for growing tea. The highest plantation in the world is located in Taiwan at 8038 feet above sea level.
The Wu wo ceremony is an authentic Taiwanese tea ceremony, different from those in Japan or China. Wu Wo means “without oneself.” The tea ceremony establishes community, understanding, and friendship as the participants prepare tea for each other.
The entire variety of non-Chinese tea is still less than that of the Chinese. Interpreting the many flavors of Chinese tea and tea culture could take a lifetime! China produces 35% of the tea produced throughout the world.
China has so many different climates and they’ve been cultivating tea for 4,000 years. Depending on the location and method of processing, tea in China can be categorized into five broad types – green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and post-fermented tea.
When in China, be sure to visit one of the great tea markets, each with hundreds of shops selling all kinds of tea and tea making equipment. Try Maliandao in Beijing, the Jinan wholesale tea market in Shandong Province, or the Yunnan tea wholesale market in Kunming.
North Korea grows green teas, which are harvested in spring. Originally farmed at the temples and the royal court, tea began to grow wild in Jeolla and Gyeongsang provinces. Wild tea has been cultivated in Korea as far back as 350BC, while green tea was introduced from China after 600 AD by Korean monks who had gone to study sacred Buddhist texts in China.
Tea was closely linked to the spread of Buddhism in Korea, just as it was in Japan.
One of the Korean tea attractions is the Korean Tea Culture Park with its outdoor stage, shaped like a green tea leaf for the Boseong Tea Festival.
More than 98% of all tea produced in Japan stays in Japan. They are famous for their green tea, which is steamed instead of roasted, giving it a strong “Green Tea” flavor. Japanese teas are unique because the tea is a bit brothy tasting.
Wazuka is a small town in Japan, home to 300 tea growing families, many offering a tea internship to foreigners. This was the first place that tea was grown in Japan after been introduced from China more than 800 years ago. They use industrial devices mimicking traditional sun-drying and hand-rolling.
Essential to the Shizuoka City experience is:
- The Tea Auction House of Shizuoka City. Witness buyers and sellers trying the tea and haggling prices with the help of an auction house intermediary. The participants clap 3 times in unison when the deal has been made.
- The tea factory in downtown Shizuoka. Tour the tea factory to observe the processing and packaging of Shizuoka green tea.
- Tea Street. A great opportunity to explore all the Japanese teas and tea paraphernalia.
- Fuji. close to Mt. Fuji, a trip to Shizuoka can be combined with a visit to Mt. Fuji.
Tea Ceremony Experience with Kimono Rental
At Kyoto Concierge Salon, experience the Japanese tea ceremony preparing and serving Matcha along with traditional sweets. The cost is 3,000 yen per person, or $27. To experience the workshop while wearing a borrowed kimono, simply add 1,500 yen or $13.
The United States
The US League of Tea Growers was formed in 2013, and viable tea plantations are now found all across the USA, in South Carolina, Alabama, Washington, and Oregon, plus a collective of roughly 40 small growers in Hawaii. There are also several farms in the process of being developed in the states of South Carolina, Mississippi, New York, Texas, and Idaho.
An observer of visitors to China said “Foreigners have difficulty understanding the delicate taste of Xian (savory) and Huigan (sweetness) in tea. We Chinese prefer the traditional aspect of relaxing and drinking tea. We don’t need to hike or pick leaves!”