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Why is exclusive tea still so exclusive in China?

Chinese tea in China:

Although drinking tea as a daily pursuit has always been very much part of the local culture in China, artisanal and exclusive tea still remains… exclusive, why is this so?

Social expectations:

We Tea enthusiasts of today are so lucky to be able to cherish this as our hobby. Up until 2005. This scene was not a reality in the west. No one knew about it. Thankfully there are no faux pas in drinking what we would like to over here. Not so much in China though.

In China, the partaking of gong fu cha had been up until recently, an exploit only for the rich, powerful and connected. in many respects, it still remains like this in China. It’s hard for us to comprehend with our western lens as class structures here are very mobile. In the West, if you have the means you can partake. If you want to get into Polo, go do it. if you want to visit the horses dressed up like the earl of Doncaster…off you go, if you want to drink some crazy exclusive region raw puerh, go grab some and brew it! in China, however, lower echelons of Society still ‘know their place’ Which I find quite unfortunate for them. I don’t mean to be derogatory, I’m just trying to get the point across that drinking high end tea in China is seen as a high class thing to do and reserved only for them. People who believe they are outside of this bubble don’t even think about doing it, it won’t even cross their minds. This really shocked me when I first found out, I didn’t know that Chinese social status was still so rigid! In days of old, it’s very true to say that only the most privileged of people would have the time to sit, relax and enjoy the most beautiful of Tea available whilst ordinary folk would have been too focused on work, family life and daily survival. This would have been true for us also here in the west but as times have changed our social prejudices and perceptions have mostly eroded giving way to the freedom of enjoyment towards leisurely activities, such as this. I just find this whole subject fascinating.

The Black Sheep:

Maybe things are changing now in China? I heard an account from a distributor of mine. A young labourer who must have been on very low pay popping into a Tea shop I know in Fancung tea market Guangzhou. He saved up for months in order to buy one sample of Wan Gong Gushu Puerh tea to bring home and share with friends at Chinese new year. He just wanted to know what some of ‘the best’ tea available tasted like. A real black sheep who had the gaol to put aside all social stigma, walk into a tea shop in search of holy grail tea! Let’s hope for more like him in the future!

I hope you enjoyed my blog,

Oli 😊

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