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Things Get Wild at Dian Tuo

Yufei Weng

Thick in the middle of tea bushes, Shunan takes a step toward another plant hoping to spot a tender bud. Suddenly the ground below her gives way and she begins to slide down the slope. She reaches out for the closest thing to grab on to and is saved by a near by tea branch. For such a frail looking plant, tea bushes are deeply rooted and very sturdy. Shunan pulls herself up laughing and returns to the search for wild tea.

Tea picking is a physically demanding. The plants that produce the best tea can be lower to the ground or need a little bushwhacking to get to. For a lot of tea plants newer varieties have been created that while easier to pick and produce a better yield, don’t always taste as good.

The tea farmer don’t always have the facilities to produce white tea so often they sell the fresh leaves to buyers who can process them well. This goes on in a large, almost chaotic, outdoor market. A crowd of tea growers trying to sell their leaves at the best price while tea buyers try to get the most for their money.