• LOGIN
  • No products in the cart.

Da Hong Pao, China’s best and most expensive tea

da hong pao tea, chinese tea

In 2002, a wealthy purchaser paid 180,000 yuan – almost $28,000 – for just 20g of China's legendary Da Hong Pao tea (大红袍, dà hóng páo). Even in a culture that's valued tea drinking as an art form for around 1,500 years (and has a system of tea classification that makes French wine look simple), the price was astonishing.

2002年,一位富商花了18万——约2.8万美元——竞得20G中国传说中的母树大红袍。即使在饮茶文化有着1500年历史的国度里(且,它的茶品等级分类已经使得法国红酒相形失色),这个价格依然相当令人吃惊。

Original Da Hong Pao doesn't just cost its weight in gold – it costs more than 30 times its weight in gold: almost $1,400 for a single gram, or well over $10,000 for a pot. It's one of the most expensive teas in the world.

母树大红袍并不是和同等重量的黄金等价——它是同等重量黄金价格的30倍:1克约达1400美元,或者,一壶的售价远超1万美元。它是世界是最贵的茶之一。

"It looks fit for a beggar, but it's priced for an emperor and has the heart of the Buddha," said Xiao Hui, a tea maker in Wuyishan, a misty riverside town in Fujian, southern China. She showed me the dark, tangled, unfinished-looking Da Hong Pao leaves from her family's tea gardens in Wuyishan. Xiao and her family, tea makers for many generations, still go into the mountains every spring to call on the tea god, Lu Yu, to bring new shoots.

武夷山的茶叶生产商肖慧介绍,"大红袍有着乞丐的外表、皇帝的身价、菩萨的心肠。"中国西部福建省的武夷山是大红袍的产地,它是一个雾气迷蒙的河畔小城。肖慧给我们展示了从她家的茶园里采摘的未加工的大红袍叶子,通体乌黑、卷曲。她和她的家人,世代以茶为生,每年春天,他们都会进山祭祀茶神陆羽,祈求能带来更多的新梢。

da hong pao tea, chinese tea

Wuyishan's startling karst landscape has been famous for tea for centuries. The rain that pours down the limestone gorges and karst pinnacles, flooding the narrow mountain streams and tumbling waterfalls, is heavy with minerals that impart flavour.

几个世纪来,武夷山令人震惊的喀斯特景观都以产茶而闻名。从石灰岩峡谷和喀斯特尖峰上倾盆而下的雨水,冲起了狭窄的山间小溪流,形成翻滚的瀑布,它们富含能提升茶叶口感的矿物质。

Today, every other shop in Wuyishan has a tea-tasting table set for the ritual of gong fu cha (kung fu tea) – the closest China comes to the Japanese tea ceremony –and shelves stacked with a gaudy selection of tea leaves.

如今,武夷山每一个茶铺都有一个专门为功夫茶道而设的品茶桌——功夫茶是中国与日本茶道里最接近的一种,以及一些架子,堆放着各种茶叶供挑选。

Travelling to Wuyishan, I discovered that many Da Hong Pao teas are surprisingly affordable. Though aged or antique versions can sell for extremely high prices, a Da Hong Pao of reasonable quality can cost around $100 per kilo in Wuyishan. But every genuine Da Hong Pao originates with a cutting from a single group of mother trees. And it's these original trees that produce the rare and sought-after original tea.

去武夷山旅游,我发现很多大红袍茶都出乎意料的便宜。在武夷山,尽管一些年代久远的大红袍可以卖出天价,但常见的大红袍每公斤约100美元。然而,纯种大红袍却是从母树上切下的枝桠繁殖出来的。正是这些母树生产出了这样极为罕见、非常吃香的茶。

"The original Da Hong Pao is so expensive because there are hardly any of the original tea trees left," explained local tea master Xiangning Wu. "And antique versions are very valuable, almost priceless." In fact, it's all so exclusive that specialist brokers navigate the rarefied world of China's ultra-wealthy tea collectors, connecting those who need to sell with those who wish to buy.

当地的茶艺师吴向宁解释说,"大红袍价格如此高,是因为母树上几乎没有什么茶叶了。年代久远的大红袍非常贵,简直是无价的。"事实上,它们如此稀有、独特,在中国超级富豪茶叶收藏家们的圈子里,专门有经纪人在操纵,收集买家和卖家的信息。

But it's not just the Chinese who value Da Hong Pao. In 1849, British botanist Robert Fortune came to the Wuyishan mountains on a secret mission, part of the agro-industrial espionage at which the colonial East India Company excelled.

不过,珍视大红袍价值的,不只是中国人。1849年,英国植物学家Robert Fortune来到武夷山完成一项秘密使命,这是殖民地时代东印度公司擅长的农工业间谍活动的一部分。

Britons were, then, as now, obsessed with tea, and China – from where the Brits also bought silk and porcelain ?– was the only place they could get it. But Britain made little that China wanted, creating a massive trade deficit. An obvious way of resolving the balance of trade was to do what the East India Company had done with other valuable plants: steal the seeds (or, better, cuttings) and grow them elsewhere. If Britain could make its own tea in India, the nation would be that much less dependent on China.

彼时,直到如今,英国人都对茶非常痴迷,而中国,是他们唯一能得到茶的地方,他们还从这儿进口丝绸和瓷器。可是,中国却没有什么要从英国进口的,这样就形成了贸易逆差。要解决这种贸易差额,一个很明显的方法,正如东印度公司曾对其他珍稀植物所做的那样:偷种子(更有甚者,砍掉枝子),种到其他地方去。如果英国人能在印度种出自己的茶树,那他们对中国的依赖就会大大降低。

But Britain couldn't. The tea seeds that previous spies had sourced from Guangdong simply would not grow – and the native Indian tea bushes, a different type of plant to Chinese tea, just didn't taste right.

但是英国人的算盘落空了。他们先前偷的茶树种,原产地是中国广东,在印度无法生长,而印度当地的茶树,是一种与中国茶迥异的品种,口感不好。

His aim was to track down China's best tea – Da Hong Pao – and to learn how to grow it. And since almost all of China was closed to foreigners on pain of death, disguise was essential. Fortune hired a servant, cut his hair, affixed a purchased pigtail and embarked for Wuyishan in search of Da Hong Pao.

而Robert Fortune呢?他的目的是追踪到中国最好的茶——大红袍——并学习如何种植它。由于当时几乎整个中国排外情绪高涨,伪装是非常必要的。Fortune雇了一个仆人,他理掉头发,粘上买来的假辫子,就这样乔装后踏上了前往武夷山搜寻大红袍的旅程。

Just as they do today, tea gardens clambered up and around the mountains, squeezed into the narrowest of gorges and perched on the steepest of slopes. And just like today, a handful of precious bushes balanced in a brick terrace in a vertiginous limestone face, with three Chinese characters carved in scarlet: Da Hong Pao. The name – Big Red Robe – references a scarlet blanket that a mythical emperor donated long ago in thanks for a miracle cure.

就像今天一样,茶园弯弯曲曲延伸到了山上,挤到了最狭窄的峡谷里,生长在最陡峭的山坡上。还是像今天一样:几棵珍贵的灌木生长在陡峭的石灰岩砖壁上,上面刻着三个红色的汉字:大红袍。大红袍,原指的是一个红色的毯子,据说是神话中某帝王为了感谢一个奇迹般的治愈所赠。

Fortune took up residence in the Tianxin Yongle Temple below Da Hong Pao, and – amid leisurely discussions as to whether shoots picked by monkeys or virgins made the best tea – the botanist acquired seeds, seedlings and the secrets of their cultivation. When they reached India, these seeds, merged with indigenous Indian tea, would form the beginnings of an industry now worth billions of dollars a year.

Robert Fortune在大红袍岩下的天心永乐禅寺定居下来。在是否经猴子或处女采摘的嫩芽才能做出最好的茶的闲聊中,这位植物学家获得了茶种、茶苗及栽培的秘密。在他们到达印度时,这些种子,与印度当地的茶树相结合,将开启一个新的产业,如今他们的茶叶产业年价值达数十亿美元。

Or, as Zhe Dao, now abbot of Tianxin Yongle told me: "In the 19th Century, some plant hunter came and took the seeds. But he didn't know how to make the tea so he needed the masters to teach him how."

不过,正如当今的天心永乐禅寺主持泽道说,"19世纪,一些植物猎人来偷走了种子。但是他们不知道怎么种植,所以需要大师来教。"

Tianxin Yongle was founded in 827AD. In 1958, during the Mao era, the monks were forced out, taking their tea-making knowledge with them. When Zhe arrived from the ancient city of Suzhou in 1990, what little remained of the temple was home to peasants.

天心永乐禅寺始建于公元827年。1958年,在毛泽东时代时,这些知道怎么种植茶树的和尚们都被驱逐出去,1990年,当泽道从苏州古城回来时,这个禅寺里只住着一些农民了。

"Back then it was just me," Zhe explained. "Now I have a lot of disciples, so five or six years ago we started to make tea."

他说,"那时只有我一个人。不过现在我有了很多弟子。所以,大约五六年前我们又开始种茶。"

I walked past the monastery's vegetable gardens and up and along the narrow, winding mountain paths to the original Da Hong Pao.

穿过寺院的菜园,前行再走过一段狭窄、蜿蜒的山路,我见到了大红袍母树。

The trees looked tired and spindly. Estimates of their age vary widely. It was hard to imagine these straggly bushes bursting with new growth.

这些茶树看起来很疲倦,很纤弱。估计他们的年龄差距很大。很难想象出他们还能发出新芽来。

And it seems that they won't. On 1 May, soon after the tea harvest begins, a red carpet will be rolled out to mimic the emperor's gift. Beautiful women dressed in traditional costume will ascend the mossy steps and perform a ritual.

看起来他们确实不能。5月1日,自茶叶开始丰收后不久,这里将模仿当年帝王捐赠的情形铺上红地毯。穿着传统服装的姑娘们会登上长满青苔的台阶,为这个仪式表演。

But there will be no harvest. These precious, ancient bushes, last harvested in 2005, will likely never make tea again. Which means the scattered few grams collectors are lovingly storing, drying them each year to mature their flavour, will be more valuable than ever before. Perhaps as expensive as diamonds, given time

但丰收不再。这些珍贵的、古老的灌木,最后一次收获是在2005年,自此以后就再也没产出茶叶。这意味着零散的几克茶叶将被收藏家悉心储存,每年取出晾干使其口感更加成熟,它们将比以前更加珍贵。有一天,可能贵比钻石。

2016-06-24

0 responses on "Da Hong Pao, China's best and most expensive tea"

    Leave a Message

    Copyright ©right 2017 Chinlingo Inc. All rights reserved.  闽ICP备15003609号-2