Jing Zhe - Tea Picking CEremony
Spring thunder rolls, all things comes to life again, growing excitedly. It was one of the twenty-four solar terms last Thursday - 惊蛰 (Jīngzhé: the awakening of the hibernating insects). It marks the beginning of annual bustles for tea farmers in the Wuyi Mountain.
Jingzhe is the time to 喊山 (calling the mountain). The ritual can be traced back to the Yuan Dynasty, when Beiyuan Royal Tea Garden is located at the time of Jian'an (now called Jian’ou. As the apparent name given to the tea garden, it is only reserved for the imperial court. During every harvest of tribute tea, grand ceremony is carried out. The local officials and tea artisans champion by the calling the mountain, in celebration of the royal tea harvest.
Several hundreds of years past, calling of the mountain has become a yearly practice of the Wuyi tea farmers. With increasing likings paid to Wuyi rock tea amongst tea lovers, pilgrimage to the mountain gods as a form of cultural heritage has also gain a considerable attention.
The ceremony begins at dawn. Though prayers are already carved closed to heart, the special moment does not tolerate a slight sloppiness. Tea farmers will place sacrifice ritual (now replaced by meat dishes) before the Yang Taibei’s statue. Upon the command of the lead, everyone begins to shout in unison “tea buds grow, tea buds grow!" represents the tea is about to take on new buds, heralded a good harvest of the year has arrived. The climax of the brief mountain ceremony is then marked with the crackling sound of firecrackers. This is when tea farmers pick up the tea baskets and begins with tea picking!
The whole process is not complicated, and tea farmers of Wuyi Mountain has already incorporate this date into their living habits and is an indispensable event.
For those who loves Wuyi tea, we hope after the whole ceremony we will get to taste even more mellow delicacy.
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