Wikipedia, that oracle of facts, tells me that we Kiwi are not big tea drinkers: seems we are 45th in the world – way behind Turkey, the Irish and British. The Chinese put it on our culinary world map in the 10th C when they began drying, then steeping, the leaves of the Camellia sinensis.
International Tea Day is December 15 and it seems tea is the most widely used drink – after water.
On my recent trip to Xiamen, China, (as part of a cultural group from its sister city Wellington, New Zealand) we drank tea daily, often many time daily – many times at tea ceremonies.
Here are just a few of those tea drinking events.
Hui’an woman pour tea
women in my group offered tea at Huihe Stone Park
We are welcomed with tea at our hotel
An artists tea area at Duishan Art District
another artists tea ceremony table
tea again – near Nanjing Tulou
Formal tea demonstration SUMGO Tea House
Demonstration tea ceremony
table before ceremony starts
I’m served tea at SUMGO
Tea for sale
I buy white tea for a friend
tea is poured
tea table trays are fabulous
White tea is the most expensive
more tea containers
Note: I travelled to Xiamen as part of a cultural delegation from its sister city Wellington, New Zealand. Thank you for the help for me to take part in this trip.
Fujian province, China, is unknown to most Western travellers but is the most famous and perhaps the most visited area for local tourism.
‘Secretive and reclusive’ were terms often used about China but things are changing.
You will know it’s home to chopsticks, calligraphy, acupuncture, the Silk Road, and Tiananmen Square, and of course the Chinese invented paper, printing, gunpowder and the umbrella.
Xiamen, the city by the sea, is at the mouth of the Nine Dragon River, and has frequently been labelled one of China’s most beautiful cities. It’s also been called a garden on the sea and is consistently named one of China’s most liveable cities, and was once called Amoy by Westerners. The climate is subtropical, and as it is on the coast and with very little heavy industry, and no coal for domestic heating, it’s here is cleaner than most Chinese cities.
This island city, opposite Taiwan, has been an important trading port since the Song Dynasty 960 until 1279 and was a seaport open to foreign trade. The Portuguese with the first European traders in 1541. It is still an important trading place especially as it was one of the first four special economic zones in 1981.
During my week in the area we visited their amazing library which had originally been a foundry. It retains the huge features of such a building and has been converted amazingly.
Follow my footsteps on our trip via this slide show.
NOTE: I travelled in this region as part of a cultural delegation from Xiamen’s sister city Wellington, New Zealand. See more here – http://www.wellingtonxiamen.com and check #Xiamen for photos on Instagram.
I was told, in Thailand, that Buddha spent seven days following his enlightenment thinking about the suffering of all living creatures, and Thai people now believe that their day of birth reflects their life.
Seven Buddha images show each day of those days, except Wednesday which has two, morning and afternoon-evening.
So, one year, while in Thailand, I bought Buddha’s that matched that day for each of my immediate family as their Christmas gifts. You may like to check your day of birth and which Buddha is associated with you.
Here are photos that show the various postures for that days – I need to point out that some temples had different poses for some days!
These photos are not good as were taken through scratched glass but stay as my reference for the various poses and days as that was when I first heard about them – during a bike ride out from Bangkok.
Thailand also has lucky and unlucky colours for days of the week; the lucky ones are:
Wednesday: day Green / night grey
Friday: light blue
Saturday: purple sleep
I hope you are happy with your colour and Buddha stance!
People ask this frequently, but for me, I only have to open my writing desk drawer, pull out a journal and there are many tales. Looking at photo files provides the same bounty as memory prompts.
This little post came about after talking about Buddhism, Thailand, colours and the significance of the date you were born. That will be my next post.
None of the info, such as old phone details, or when I need to take malaria tablets on the cover of this journal are valid! Only my name and the year are truthful now🙂 – and of course, the 3 post-it papers that mark the information I’ll use in the story which will be published in 3.5 days. ( ie #TT Travel Tuesday)
PS. even the scarf has a tale to tell … I bought it in Istanbul – from a woman sitting outside the beautiful Blue Mosque.
Fancy some good artwork on your walls? Van Gogh perhaps, or a Rembrandt? Can’t afford it? Oh yes, you can buy artwork in Xiamen!
It seems many people can buy, not the originals, but copies made by talented artists and which are sold around the world. They hang in private homes, hotels, motels and conference centres and it seems most are painted and sold in Xiamen, Fujian province, China.
I visit the Xiamen oil painting ‘village’ (within the city) which has evidently been named one of, if not the top, centres of the world’s oil painting areas: most of these paintings are exported to America and Europe.
Some 5000 artists (mostly graduates from Art Schools) produce the paintings and it appeared that each had their own specialities. Many will paint your family or home from a photograph to your specification or styles.
After sheltering from a monsoon type downpour I later wandered around the streets full of little shops selling completed canvases, paint brushes, frames, and other art paraphernalia.
Needless to say I too bought an “original” artwork – not Mona Lisa or Chairman Mao, but a bright green frog with four shopping bags. I asked the artist where he got the idea from. He responded “Look up Google”.
I have done as he suggested and the closest I can find were on UK, reusable shopping bags: my frog is a boy, the bags were of naked frogs or frogs in dresses. Perhaps this is how they get around the original artist’s copyright, by making small changes.
My quirky green frog takes pride of place on my wall and he always gets favourable comments about his cuteness – not what people expect to see as a souvenir from China. (of course I have other more Asia-obvious things too)
My next blog (s) will be about the Jimei university’s JMU Fine Art College and the artist in the Duishan Art District. Now take a walk with me through the village … all these photos were taken on my phone.
Yes, you can find coffee in a tea drinking, tea growing, and tea ceremony country.
Multinationals in the coffee world seem to have cornered the coffee market in tea drinking China. But, on Gulang Yu, a car-less island off Xiamen, we discover a little coffee café. While most of the group I was travelling with climbed Sunlight Rock for fabulous views, three of us explored a little area that our guide had said was boring, had nothing of interest. How wrong she was; we loved it.
This tiny island has brides galore, all with their make-up artists, clothing assistants and photographers who also have their assistants. Of course, a very bored groom is also at hand. It’s not an easy task in the 30° plus heat and their often large Western style wedding dresses – which they efficiently tuck up while walking from site to site for the photos.
As tourists we too were taking photos while the locals, and many Chinese tourists, are photographing us. I lost count of how many stranger’s selfies I ended up in – and I wonder what they will say about us when showing their holiday snaps.
We explored a little cake shop and bought some local pies to take back to New Zealand where my book group enjoyed them!
Despite not having six Chinese words among us we loved checking out the shops and especially a fabulous clothes shop, all of which were made in India. We didn’t buy any pearls but one of our trio had her portrait drawn. The other, was most excited to find a real coffee shop alongside the pearls and artists so in we went.
I had a local iced drink the others had coffee which they declared fabulous. I also bought postcards and stamps from the eclectic little coffee shop. But let my photos tell the story – and if you visit them, make sure you tell them you read a blog about how good their coffee is!
GREAT COFFEE AND POSTCARDS (PLUS STAMPS)
this is the coffee shop
you are only 15 seconds from the coffee shop
now 10 seconds away
ALL SORTS FOR SALE
what does this say?
And, I wish I knew what this said
next door to the artist’s shop
one of you group has her portrait drawn
we swap email addresses
NOTE: Gulangyu is directly off the south-eastern coast of China, (opposite Taiwan) This huge tourist attraction (especially for Chinese) is part of the bustling city of Xiamen. The island is famous for its natural beauty, colonial style architecture and a myriad of museums – including the Piano Museum. Xiamen has consistently been voted as one of China’s most liveable cities, and Gulangyu Island has been recognized as one of Fujian Province’s most scenic places.
Huasheng Tang, otherwise known as peanut soup, is really popular in Xiamen, as is hailijian, oyster omelette – this is made with sweet potato flour as well as oysters. This was popular among the group I was travelling with but it was not a taste I acquired.
I also tried the sand worm jelly (tusundong), a local delicacy, and although it was not unpleasant I don’t like many jellied dishes, and after reading the article (see link above) about them I’m not sure I would eat them again.
One of the most interesting dishes (see main photo) was one of black chicken. I thought it had been dyed with perhaps squid ink, but in fact these chickens which apparently originate in Indonesia actually have black flesh, and actually tasted like any other chicken. It was not until my last morning in Xiamen, exploring some local streets near the hotel that I actually saw a black chicken for sale.