Saturday, 30 November 2013

Photos of Bronze Mirrors

The Son of Heaven Mirror

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Art and Craft

The Invention of the Bronze Mirror

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Art and Craft


It's Amazing How Much An Imitation Can Fetch at An Auction, Isn't It? (3)

Zhang Qian Founded the Silk Road

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Art and Craft


Various Kinds of Silk

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Art and Craft
Silk is a generic term for silk products. There are many kinds of silk. Below are some examples.

  1. Jin
It’s texture is the heaviest and richest. It is the representative of traditional Chinese silk. This type of silk gives the weaver a sense of pride.

  1. Luo
It’s texture is light, making it an ideal choice of fabric for summer.

  1. Ling (damask silk)
This is a type of ultra-thin silk with patterns. Besides being used in clothing, it is also used in the mounting of calligraphy.

  1. Juan (tough, thin silk)
This refers to silk products made from unprocessed silk. The fabric is thin yet tough. It is mainly used in the mounting of calligraphy.

  1. Sha (gauze)

The grains are criss-crossed. The fabric is light, soft and transparent. The costumes of officials were mostly made with this fabric. The headdress of the officials was known as the black gauze cap, which later signified an official post.

Friday, 29 November 2013

The Founder of Silk Weaving

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Art and Craft



Compiled from Origins of Chinese Art and Craft
        China was the first country to discover silk cocoons. For more than 6,000 years, the Chinese have been breeding silk cocoons. Ancient Greeks knew China as Seres, which meant the Silk Country. When silk was introduced into the Western world, the Westerners fell in love with its beauty. They described it as being as beautiful as a fairy maiden and as mysterious as a dream.

Breeding Silkworms
        Cocoon is a type of grayish white fluid which is secreted by the silkworm. It is made out of silk protein and silk glue which hardens upon contact with air. Silk is malleable and elastic. A silkworm can secrete about 1,000 metres of silk thread.

Picking Mulberry Leaves
          As silkworms feed on mulberry leaves, mulberry trees were grown in abundance. The job of picking mulberry leaves was usually left to the womenfolk. Characters like mulberry, cocoon and silk were already found in the earliest Chinese writing: the shell-and-bone writing.

A fine famille rose Guan Yin with a child

A fine famille rose Guan Yin with a child, 29cm, Ming Guo period

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Princess Wencheng and the Tibetan Buttered Tea

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Tea and Wine
        Tibetans like to add butter and salt to their tea. It is said that the practice was introduced by Princess Wencheng. Princess Wencheng was the daughter of Emperor Tang Taizhong. In order to maintain the good relationship between the Hans and the Tibetans, the emperor married off his daughter to the king of Tibet, Songsten Gampo. The princess brought some tea with her to Tibet.
        Songsten Gampo threw a big celebration to welcome Princess Wencheng. By the end of the night, the king was extremely drunk. The princess immediately instructed the officials to make a pot of tea with the leaves she had brought with her. She gave some of the tea to the king, and he woke up soon after. He was surprised how much effect the tea had on him as he would usually sleep throughout the night in the past. He also liked the fact that taste and smell of the tea and even declared that it tasted better than wine.

        The princess suggested adding some tea to milk to remove the goat smell. The combination would make it a tastier drink. From that day onwards, everyone took their tea with milk, and it became a popular daily drink in Tibet.  

Fast Facts #11: Tea-for-horse Trade

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Tea and Wine
        In the olden days, tea was traded for horses. During the early years of the Song Dynasty, people from the inner regions used to purchase horses from the minority races with copper coins. However, the herdsmen forged weapons with the copper coins instead. In order to protect the borders, the Song government traded tea, fabrics and medicine with the herdsmen. They even appointed a ‘tea minister’ to regulate the supply of tea. During the Ming Dynasty, a good horse could fetch at most 120 jin* of tea, while an average horse was worth about 40 jin.

*One jin is approximately half a kilogram.

Tea Drinking Practices of Minority Races

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Tea and Culture
        The minority races in China also love to drink tea, and their drinking cultures are full of unique characteristics.

  1. Tibetan
        Buttered tea is an indispensable daily drink for keeping the body warm and nourished. Tibetans also serve the tea to the guests, and they even come with a set of rules. In a Tibetan house, buttered tea must always be drank slowly. It must never be finished in one gulp. The hospitable host will refill the guest’s cup continually, and a guest should not refuse. If the guest can’t drink anymore, he can let the cup sit after a refill, and finish it in one go just before he leaves. 

  1. Bai
          The Bai minority tribe in Yunnan always serve three courses of teato their guests during joyous occasions. The first is bitter, the second sweet, and the third has a mixture of flavours. The first course, a strong brew boiled in a can, is fragrant but very bitter. It symbolizes the hardship one must endure before one can achieve success. The second tea, served with brown sugar and walnut, tastes sweet and has a tinge of bitterness. It connotes the good things in life often come only after hardship. The third tea comes with honey and pepper, so it tastes sweet, bitter, numbing and hot. It reminds one to reflect on one’s life experiences.

  1. Jingpo
          They have a dish made from pickled tea leaves. It is prepared by mixing chilli and salt into the tea leaves, which is then stored in a sealed container for 2-3 months before consumption.

  1. Miao
     They have a special ‘insect tea’ that is made from the excretion of noctuids – a nocturnal moth. The granules are added to hot water to make a drink with a rich scent. 

  1. Buyi
They have a precious tea called ‘lady tea’, which is made meticulously by unmarried ladies. This tea is not for sale, and is only presented by the ladies to their lovers as a token of love.

  1. Bulang
They always go hunting in the hills. So, when they’re thirsty, they would chop down a segment of bamboo and use it to boil some stream water. They then add in tea leaves to make a sweet and fragrant cup of bamboo tea.

How to Make a Good Brew

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Tea and Wine
There are many ways to prepare tea. You can prepare tea for many people or for just one.

Preparing tea for many
  1. Fill one-third of the pot with tea leaves.
  2. Pour in boiled water, remove the bubbles on the surface with the lid and close the lid tightly.
  3. Some people like to pour away the water from the first infusion. This is called ‘washing the tea’. It cleans the leaves and allows the scent to come out more easily. However, not every type of tea needs to be washed. Black and green tea can give a rich taste even in the first brew.
  4. Pour some hot water over the teapot to let the aroma diffuse completely.
  5. Pour hot water into the teacups (to warm up the cups). Then, pour away the water.
  6. Arrange the cups in a straight line and fill them up with tea.

Preparing tea for one
There is now a type of teacup that has a handle and a lid. It comes with a tea filter and can also be used to make tea, making this extremely convenient for people.
1.    First, use hot water to warm up the cup. Then, pour away the hot water.
2.    Add 3-5 grams of tea leaves.
3.    Fill it up till it’s 70-80% full with boiled water.
4.    Replace the lid and let the tea sit for 3-5 minutes.
5.    Lift the lid, remove the filter and tea is ready to be consumed.

6.    To make another cup of tea, just replace the tea filter and fill it up with water again and repeat step 3 and 4.  

Storing Tea

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Tea and Wine
In order to enjoy the delicate fragrance of tea, it is important that the tea is well-kept. Avoid bulk-buying. That way, you’ll always have fresh tea. Important things to remember about storage:

  1. The container should be made of clay, tin, iron or coloured glass.
  2. Store the container in a dry, ventilated place. Keep it away from humidity, high temperature and sunlight.
  3. Tea absorbs smells easily. As such, it mustn’t be stored together with food or items with strong smells, such as medicine, cigarettes and cosmetics.
  4. Tea of different types and grades shouldn’t be stored together.

How to Choose Tea

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Tea and Wine
There are four factors involved in choosing tea:
  1. Look
Check if the shape, size and colour of the tea leaves are uniform. Look out for undesirable particles such as tea dust and stalks.

  1. Touch
Feel the tea leaves. Estimate the weight and size of the leaves and buds. The heavier the tea leaves, the better the quality.

  1. Smell
Take in the aroma. The tea leaves should not smell like grass or other impurities. When the tea is ready to be consumed, it should have a fresh, rich and lasting fragrance.

  1. Taste

Sample the tea. Good tea is rich, fresh and has a lingering sweet taste. Tea that is thin and astringent is of a lower grade.

Tea Customs

Compiled from the Origins of Chinese Tea and Wine
        With its long history among the Chinese, tea has become an integral part of the Chinese culture.

  1. Serving tea to the guest. It is a Chinese custom for the host to serve tea to a guest.
  1. In offerings. Tea was originally used as a medicine because of its detoxifying and curative effects. It was therefore revered as a gift of the gods, and was used in offerings to the gods and ancestors.
  1. Dou Cha (tea competition). In ancient times, tea drinking was a noble activity fovoured by the educated crowd. During the Song Dynasty, tea competitions were popular in literary circles, and scholars would gather to sample and discuss the merits of various types of tea.
  1. Accepting tea. In the past, tea was presented as a gift during weddings. It was seen as a sign of loyalty because a tea tree can’t be transplanted once it is sown. The bride must also accept the tea from the groom during the engagement: this is called shou cha (accepting tea). Tea also signifies everlasting love as it is evergreen. The fact that the tea plant has many seeds also represents prosperity (having many children).
  1. Returning tea. Not only is tea a token in engagements, it is also used to break off an engagement. In the olden days, there was an interesting custom of ‘returning tea’ in Guizhou. If a woman wished to break off an engagement, she would wrap up some tea leaves and bring them to her fiance’s house. After the customary courtesies, she would put the tea down and leave the house. If the man had known of her intentions beforehand, he and his family could seize her and throw a wedding banquet immediately. Thus, the girl had to be very careful when returning the tea to avoid being detected. It took a lot of guts and wits. As such, a girl who managed to return the tea successfully would be highly praised.
  1. Drinking morning tea. The Cantonese like their morning tea. Every morning, the tea houses will be thronged with customers. A pot of good tea served with dim sum is something characteristically Cantonese.
  1. Yuanbao tea. In the past, there was a practice of drinking morning tea at tea houses on Lunar New Year’s Day. On this day, the waiter would serve yuanbao (money) tea with one or two olives inside. There was an auspicious rhyme that went with it: ‘Drink yuanbao tea and make more money throughout the year.’ The customers would be happy to hear that and give the waiter more tips. The custom of drinking yuanbao tea during Lunar New Year became common among the public. In certain places in China, yuanbao tea was served when welcoming guests. Sometimes, red dates were also used instead of olives.
  1. Gongfu tea (skilled tea). This custom, popular in Guangzhou and Fujian, may have evolved from tea competitions. Brewing gongfu tea requires oolong tea leaves and spring water. The tea set has to be small and elegant. It is best to use zisha teapots from Yixing and white porcelain teacups that hold only one mouthful.
·         The host introduces the tea leaves, and passes the leaves around for the guests to sample the scent.
·         The host then pours hot water onto the leaves.
·         The porcelain cups are then lined up; tea is poured into each cup in quick rotation until the teapot is empty.
·         Tea is then served to guests, starting from the eldest or the most revered guest.
·         The guests then sample the colour, fragrance and the taste of the tea through small sips.
·         After the first brew, steps two and three are repeated.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

A Fine Zisha Elephant with Laughing Buddha and Children

A fine Zisha elephant with a Laughing Buddha and children, symbolizing prosperity, wealth, and luck, 27cm, Ming Guo Period  

The Story of Zisha Teapots

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Tea and Wine
        Once upon a time, a poor boy by the name of Gong Chun from Dingshan Town approached Master Jingxu from Zuyun Temple and asked Master Jingxu to take him as his apprentice. It turned out Gong Chun had heard that Master Jingxu was an expert on making zisha teapots.
        Master Kingxu agreed and took Gong Chun in as his apprentice. However, he made it clear that only Gong Chun could decide if he’d learn anything. Gong Chun stayed at the temple, but the monks only assigned menial tasks to him and taught him nothing. Gong Chun however, was determined to learn and secretly observed Master Jingxu and diligently practiced making teapots during his spare time.
        One day, Gong Chun chanced upon an old peach tree. He thought it was lovely and immediately started thinking how he could transfer the patterns of the tree onto the teapots. He decided to use the trunk of the tree as the body of the teapot; the branches as the handle and spout. Finally, he decorated the pot with flowers and leaves. As he was working on the teapot one day, he suddenly heard someone behind him say, ‘That’s beautiful! Your skills have exceeded mine.’ Startled, he turned around and saw Master Jingxu standing behind him.
        Upon closer examination, Master Jingxu declared that such a beautiful teapot could be used to make offerings to the Spring God. As such, Master Jingxu decided to call it The Spring Offering Pot. It wasn’t long before it became known as the best zisha teapot in town.
        One day, the magistrate was in town. Upon hearing about Gong Chun’s Spring Offering Teapot, he sent his official to locate Gong Chun. Gong Chun was given three months to make a teapot finer than the Spring Offering Pot or face the consequences. A furious Gong Chun decided to ridicule them and made a teapot with a toad as the lid for the magistrate. This toad apparently resembled the magistrate, and it soon became a private joke among the officials. 


Zisha Teapots

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Tea and Wine
        The early teapots were modified from existing water or white containers, and were rather big. Teapots were also called chazhu (tea fill). They were beautiful works of art decorated with pictures of nature, flora and fauna. Teapots eventually became smaller, as people realized the smaller teapots allowed the flavour of the tea leaf to reach its full potential.

        The renowned Zisha (purple sand) teapots are made from sandstone clay with a high iron content from the Yixing region. The earthenware can preserve the colour, smell and taste of the tea and prevent it from going stale. Moreover, their designs are elegant and classic, which makes it easy to see why these teapots can give tea lovers a complete sensory experience in taste, smell and sight. 

The types of Zisha teapots

Types of Tea Houses

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Tea and Wine

  1. Sichuan tea house. In Sichuan, whether in big cities or in small towns, one can enjoy Sichuan drama, oratorical performances, ballad singing, recitals and puppet shows.
  1. Beijing tea house. There are many types of tea houses in Beijing – literary tea houses, basic tea houses, large tea houses, village tea houses and even tea houses for chess!
  1. Hangzhou tea house. In Hangzhou, the tea houses, called ‘tea rooms’ have a cultured atmosphere. Topics discussed include the art of tea drinking and preparation. Xihu Longjing tea is favoured in Hangzhou.
  1. Guangzhou tea house. Guangzhou tea houses are known for breakfast with tea. A variety of tit-bits is provided. In fact, the main focus is tasty food: tea is only served as part of the service.

Tea Houses

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Tea and Wine
        The tea house, a place set aside for people to enjoy tea and rest their feet, is a distinctively Chinese feature. How did it become so popular? During the Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties, it was common for people to engage in idle conversation. At first, they drank and chatted at home. They then moved on to more specialized locations – tea huts. The huts served tea and provided lodging, and were forerunners of tea houses. During the 8th century AD, shops specially for selling tea started appearing in some cities. These shops eventually evolved into tea houses during the Song Dynasty. During the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, folk arts such as ballad singing, cross talks and story- telling were born. These performances often took place in tea houses, which became a gathering place for the literati and aristocrats.

        During the Ming Dynasty, tea houses could be found in every corner of the city. Each tea house had its own book narrator, who would recite literary or historical classics such as The Water Margin, The Romance of The Three Kingdoms, The Legend of Yue Fei, and The Cases of Justice Shi. Today, tea houses in China are still meeting places for the public, and a venue for discussing business and entertaining clients. Musicians and storytellers are sometimes present to provide entertainment.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Benefits of The Various Types of Tea

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Tea and Wine
1.  Green Tea
·         Relieves fever and controls infection
·         Prevents cancer
·         Retards growth of cancer cells
·         Reduces cholesterol level
·         Protects against cardiovascular diseases
·         Reduces incidence of tooth decay
·         Combats radiation
·         High composition of Vitamin C

In modern life, people tend to be highly reliant on computers, mobile phones and other electronic devices. For this reason, they may be exposed to a certain amount of radiation, which may have a deleterious effect on their physical well-being. Green tea possesses certain elements that helps to produce antibodies against infection, and promotes blood circulation. Moreover, it increases the production of white corpuscles and defends against the effects of radiation. 

2.  Oolong Tea
·        Reduces obesity
·        Improves complexion
·        Reduces effects of aging
·        Increases resistance to infection
·        Prevents tooth decay

Everywhere, the use of Oolong tea to aid in slimming has become very popular. It contains certain elements which absorbs carbohydrates and sugar, and develops substitutes for them. People whose diets contain of high proportion of fat and other substances that cause high cholesterol levels can benefit from drinking tea, particularly Oolong tea. Apart from preventing of obesity, it lowers the absorption of cholesterol in the blood.

3.  Black Tea
Black tea helps digestion and improves appetite, relieves phlegm and promotes longevity. It helps to reduce cholesterol and improve blood circulation. It also kills bacteria and germs, thus combating infection. It is beneficial to the urinary system and bowels.

4.  Scented Tea
Other than the normal benefits of tea, each scented tea have has its own specific benefits. Jasmine tea promotes mental alertness and stabilizes the nervous system. It helps to reduce feelings of nausea and tedium. Bitter orange tea helps with digestion and strengthens the stomach. It relieves phlegm and improves respiration. Rose tea promotes blood circulation in the body. Osmanthus tea helps increases mental alertness and has a tranquilizing effect in stabilizing the nervous system and mental functions.

5.  Compressed Tea

Among compressed tea, Pu’er tea and Lun tea help in slimming, reduces cholesterol level and prevent heart and blood circulation diseases. Apparently, there were even reports saying that French ladies loved drinking Pu’er tea. In fact, they supposedly called it ‘Fat Reduction Tea’ or ‘Body Slimming Tea.’ 

The Emperor Can’t Pass a Day Without Tea

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Tea and Wine
        Tea is a natural and healthy beverage. In the old days when medicine was still in its infancy, the average lifespan of the population was short. However, those who drank tea often lived a longer life. Tea is rich in nutrients, including some that are vital to maintaining one’s health and growth.
        There were a few famous tea lovers that lived a long life. One such example is Lu You, a literary figure in the Song Dynasty once said, ‘Even if the rice is plain, I will not feel poor as long as the tea is sweet.’ He died at the ripe old age of 86. Bing Xin, a famous author and tea lover passed away at the age of 99.  Even an emperor (who hailed from the Qing Dynasty) once declared, ‘The emperor can’t pass a day without tea.’

Who was he? 

This emperor was none other than Emperor Qianlong. Given he was one of the oldest serving emperors in China, his longevity definitely had something to do with his tea-drinking habit. When he had decided to step down, an old minister said, ‘The country can’t survive a day without an emperor.’ However, the emperor simply lifted his teacup and said, ‘The emperor can’t pass a day without tea.’ The anecdote clearly illustrated the emperor’s passion for tea.  

The Types of Tea

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Tea and Wine
There are many different varieties of tea and they are grouped into six main groups:

  1. Green tea
The green tea has a delicate scent. This is an unfermented leaf that gives a lovely jade green brew. It is also very popular these days. Longjing tea and Biluochun tea are both green tea, and come from regions with picturesque scenery - Longjing from West Lake in Hangzhou, and Biluochun from Tai Lake in Suzhou.

  1. Black tea
This is a fermented leaf that draws well and gives a red beverage. Qimen tea from Anhui is the most popular amongst the black tea.

  1. Oolong tea
This is a semi-fermented tea. It’s dryer than other types of tea. Wuyiyan tea from Fujian is the most well-known oolong tea.

  1. Yellow tea
This tea is lightly fermented. Its most striking feature is its yellow leaf and brew. This colour is the result of the process by which yellow tea is made. It is very clear, light and fragrant. Among the better known yellow tea are Junshanbaizhen and Mengdinghuangya.

  1. White tea
This tea is made from young leaves that still have fine white hairs on them. The famous Yinzhenbaihao is one such example.

  1. Dark tea
Dark tea can be in the form of loose leaf or compressed tea, which is tea that has been compacted and packed in the form of bricks. Dark tea is fermented for a longer time than others. The tea leaf is a deep brown. Renowned dark tea include Yunnan Pu’er and Cangwuliubao tea.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Tea Processing

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Tea and Wine
        Young buds were initially plucked from wild tea trees for use as medicine. They were chewed raw at first, and later boiled in water to make soup. The resulting tea porridge tasted like bitter medicinal soup, thus its name ku tu (bitter plant).
        Tea processing began after the Qin and Han Dynasties. Tea leaves were compacted into cakes and heated over fire until they turned red. The tea cakes could be cracked, ground into powder and boiled in pots to make tea. Shreds of scallion, ginger or tangerine were added as flavouring before the tea was served.
        The process was further developed during the Tang Dynasty. Thus, the steps now include steaming, pounding, compacting, roasting, stringing and packing. Loose tea was very popular during the Song Dynasty. It was made by steaming and then drying the tea leaves over low fire. Not only was this method simple, it also preserved the fragrance of the leaves. During the Ming Dynasty, steaming was replaced by roasting. Tea leaves were roasted in hot, dry pans, which brought out the rich aroma of the leaves. This technique created the green tea that we commonly see today.

        In the Song Dynasty, there was a tea cake known as Longfengtuan. It was valued at two taels of gold per kati. Only on momentous occasions would the emperor grant this tea as a gift, and each tea cake was shared by four individuals. This reflects how highly tea cake was regarded. 

The story of Lu Yu, the Tea Master

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Tea and Wine
        During the Tang Dynasty, a newborn baby boy was abandoned by his parents at the river bank in Jingling, Fuzhou. His cries alerted a monk at the nearby Longgai Temple. The monk adopted the child and named him Lu Yu. Lu Yu was often bullied at the temple. When he finally couldn’t take the bullying anymore, he ran away. During his wandering days, he once acted as a comedian.
        However, he never forgot to study no matter how tough life got, and learnt a great deal through self-study. He befriended many of the scholars of his time, and met up with them frequently for tea and poetry sessions. It was during one of these sessions that one of the scholars suggested that he wrote a book on tea, given how much he loved it. Lu Yu thought it was a great idea to introduce the joy of drinking tea to more people.
        And so, Lu Yu began his journey all across the country to study the tea and water of various regions. He searched high and low, and traveled deep into the forest to seek out all the existing kinds of tea. After his long search, he retreated to Tiaoxi (aka northwest of Zhejiang) to concentrate on writing his book. When the government heard about him, they offered him a position as an official. However, Lu Yu already had his heart set on writing his book, and turned down the offer.
        After years of studying, he finally completed the Tea Classic, the world’s first treatise on tea. The book had detailed accounts on how to grow, prepare and drink tea; the varieties of tea and tea utensils; the quality of water used for brewing, as well as the customs of drinking tea. It had a far-reaching influence on the development of tea culture, elevating tea drinking into a specialized art.

        The classic also made Lu Yu the patron saint of tea merchants, who often decorated their desktops with porcelain statues of the Tea Master. When business was slow, the vendors would pour boiling water into the hole of the figure’s head, a ritual that was believed to improve business.

Tea Culture

Compiled from Origins of Chinese Tea and Wine
Tea Culture
        China is the earliest country to cultivate and drink tea. It is a popular beverage that is enjoyed from all social classes in China.

The Discovery of Tea
          It is said that tea was discovered by the legendary ruler Shennong. He sampled numerous herbs in order to find out their possible uses as food or medicine for his people. One day, he collapsed under a tree after tasting some poisonous leaves. Some water droplets happened to trickle down from the tree into his mouth and revived him. The tree was a tea plant. From then on, people knew about the detoxifying and curative effects of tea, and began using it as a medicine. Because it is refreshing, thirst-quenching and fragrant, tea gradually became an every day drink.

The Tea Plant
          In the old days, the tea plant was known as ‘The Good Wood’. Tea originated from China and could be found in the wild as early as a few thousand years ago in places such as Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan. In the jungles of Nannuo Mountain in Menghai, Yunnan, there is a wild tea plant that is over 30 meters tall and over 1,700 years old. It is called the King of Tea Plants. Tea scholars travel great distances to view the plant, some coming from as far as Japan.

Tea Plucking
        The harvests of tea leaves can be classified by season: spring, summer, autumn and winter. The best green tea can also be divided into Ming Qian Tea (plucked before Qing Ming Festival) and Yu Qian Tea (plucked before the rainy season). New Tea is freshly gathered from the tea plant. Mature Tea is tea that has been kept for a year or longer after plucking.