Feature: Chinese tea's fragrance drifts into hometown of Ceylon black tea

By Chen DongshuWu Yue
  • World
  • Thursday, 23 May 2024

by Chen Dongshu, Wu Yue

COLOMBO, May 22 (Xinhua) -- After queuing for over 10 minutes, Thilini Thilakarathne, a Sri Lankan teacher from Thurstan College, finally received a bowl of oil tea from south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

It was at "Tea for Harmony: Yaji Cultural Salon," recently held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, that Thilakarathne tasted Chinese tea for the first time.

"This oil tea tastes like a staple food. It is strange to me, but I really like the taste," she said.

The oil tea tasted by Thilakarathne dates back to the Tang Dynasty, which is a unique dietary custom created by the people of China's Yao ethnic group. In recent days, it has become an important life ritual and the highest etiquette for the Yao people when welcoming distinguished guests.

In 2022, "Traditional Tea Processing Techniques and Associated Social Practices in China," including the Yao oil tea customs as sub-items, was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Besides the oil tea booth, craft performers were busy brewing and distributing oil tea, occasionally guiding curious children on how to pound tea leaves, ginger, and garlic in an iron pot. On the other side, at the Guangxi Liubao tea booth, a group of Sri Lankan "China experts" were sipping and tasting tea.

"Our Ceylon tea usually couples with sugar and milk, but we can drink Chinese tea directly. The flavor is milder and fragrant. I really like Chinese tea," Dinesh Karunarathna, a Sri Lankan young man who studied and lived in China for eight years, said in fluent Chinese.

After returning to Sri Lanka from China, Karunarathna typically enjoys a cup of Chinese tea at home. In this event, Karunarathna sampled five types of Liubao tea, including jasmine and pine soot.

Liubao tea-making technique is also a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage subproject. Liubao, once sold well in Southeast Asian countries in the early 20th century, now sees even more robust exports in the world and has become the symbol of China's Guangxi tea.

At the live intangible cultural heritage display event, there were tea cups made of Nixing pottery, teapots shaped like bronze drums, and craft performers in traditional costumes serving tea ... Every step of the tea-making process represented China's ancient etiquette, earning continuous praise from the Sri Lankan attendees.

"Tea has become an integral part of the daily lives of people in both China and Sri Lanka. Telling a good story of tea will further enhance the emotional bond between the two nations," said Ni Lisheng, organizer and chief of the China Cultural Center in Sri Lanka.

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