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Wenzhou’s tea travels further via cultural tourism
Date:2023-03-10 14:57:39 Source:Wenzhou·China Fonts:[ Large Medium Small ]

Blended tea from the Mangxiang Tea House.

Ou kiln tea set on the dragon boat model.

Image of Pingyang Huangtang Tea souvenir.

Dingbu dragon dance at Tailong Tea Base, Taishun County.

Prolific in tea production for more than 1,600 years, Wenzhou is ramping up its efforts in revitalizing its tea industry in recent years. A new industrial ecological chain that rolls tea planting, processing, sales, scientific research and tea cultural tourism into one is about to take shape.

Once having tea-leaves picking, production and sales only, Wenzhou’s tea industry now offers lodging, sightseeing and employment related to tea. The bountiful tea industrial resources and unique cultural tourism resources are combined to spark ample opportunities.

Tea plantation as a recreational landscape

“In a week’s time, the tea plantation can be fully exploited, and now we are already running round in circles.”Lin Yichun, founder of Yueqing Nengren Tea Professional Cooperatives, has been touring the tea plantation every day lately. Nengren Village is the traditional production base of the Yandang Maofeng roasted green tea. As the temperature rises, its hills are clad in a deep green of tea trees and filled with the refreshing fragrance of tea.

The tea-picking season is also the peak for tourism in Nengren Village. Led by Lin Yichun, villagers of the Cooperatives shuttled back and forth in the tea plantation that was more than 350 mu (nearly 23.3 ha.) large, agilely and skillfully harvesting the tea leaves. Ju Huanv, wife of Lin, accompanied tourists from near and far to experience tea picking, tea making, tea art, flower arrangement etc., relishing the charm of Yandang Mountain in spring.

As attractive as the Nengren tea plantation is the Cangnan Wufeng Tea Garden, a national 3A scenic spot that speaks for itself. It is located at the junction of Cangnan County, Taishun County and Fuding City, with a tea plantation area of 10,000 mu (666.7 ha.). The extending walkways, staggered tea gardens, distinctive countryside lodges and viewing platform that provides excellent sights intermingle to paint a picture of rural revitalization.

“Sightseeing in the tea garden, experiencing tea customs and tasting tea” are the brand activities offered by Wufeng Tea Garden, attracting 500,000 domestic and foreign tourists annually. In order to break the bottleneck of the seasonal tea garden economy, the local authority took the “Micro-transformation and Fine Upgrading” campaign as an opportunity to excavate its red culture resources and renovate such places as the red culture practice and education base in southern Zhejiang and eastern Fujian, Wufeng Tea Garden complex, Wufeng Fragrant Tea Garden and Wudai Mountain red culture B&Bs, so that the traditional tea garden tourism is injected with new vitality and moves to betterment.

Promoting tourism by tea and selling tea through tourism, the linkage between tea and tourism has given birth to a host of tea tourism sightseeing parks. As the birthplace of the creative work Tea Dance, Taishun has so far held two consecutive “Sanbeixiang” Tea Festivals and three sessions of the Qinqiao Tea Cultural Tourism Festival. Through the on-site and off-site interaction and livestreaming marketing, it showcases from multiple angles via various channels its scenic tea gardens, including Wanpai Tea Garden in Shiyang Town, Yuta Tea Plantation in Pengxi Town, Geyang Tea Plantation in Xiaocun Town, Dongxi Tea Garden, Shanyangping Tea Plantation in Luoyang Town, to name a few. A new path of the “tourism + tea industry + leisure agriculture” is being explored.

In Wanpai Tea Garden which is over ten thousand mu in scale, there is a tea museum, walking trails, ornamental flowers, and dots of local folk culture and tourism resources. A scientific tea garden tour route is mapped out to tell the story of Qinqiao tea town, encompassing such sites as the Shishui Piano Bridge, the Dingbu dragon dance, the majestic Family Dong’s compound, the picturesque Shiyang terraces and the thrilling Mine Pit and Ice Castle.

Tea leaves set off the national trend of cultural creativity

Amid the new wave of consumption, many tea cultural creations have emerged in the Wenzhou market.

Tailv Xiaobai Tea, a new product derived from Taishun SanbeixiangTea, is small and portable in package, and favored by young office workers. Yueqing Changshangong Baicao Tea combines modern technology to present the tea in the form of tea bags and mingle the flavors of pear, artemisia, jumby bean and the seed of Job’s tears in the tea. More and more tea brands are breaking the stereotypes and revolutionizing the products so that more people will embrace tea.

The union of cultural creativity and traditional tea is also manifested in the interplay of national trend and intangible cultural heritage(ICH). Those cultural and creative products combine local tea with Ou kiln and delicate wares decorated in Ou relief, integrating the ancient ICH into modern aesthetic life. Typical products include the Ou kiln tea jar, souvenir of tea set with horse’s hoof-shaped cover, small set of Ou ware with plantain leaf pattern, Ou kiln tea set on the dragon boat model and Hanchen Ou kiln teacup with plantain leaf pattern.

The “new outfits” of national trend are not only aesthetic appliances, but also a way to foster a cultural ambience through tea and ICH. When the drink in your hand complements the scene in your eyes, you may immerse yourself in exploring the underlying meaning of life. For instance, Jiang Liqiu, deputy director of the Ouyi Culture Museum, has launched a new series of scented candle in lotus petal cup, which was inspired by Yongjia Wuniu Early Tea and serves a companion of tea drinking. Sipping a cup of tea amid the scent from the candle, you may picture in your mind’s eye the scene of the misty and tea-scented tea gardens along the Nanxi River. Another case is the bowls from Mingshan Pottery Compound, Pingyang County, produced by Zheng Jushuang, a master of the ICH hand-made pottery. The bowls merge the scenery of South Yandang Mountain, Ponan Street, Xiwan and other places into egg painting and ceramics, so that daily supplies in Pingyang are both practical and ornamental while offering a glimpse of Wenzhou’s profound culture at the same time.

With the changing trends in consumption, the traditional famous tea and long-established brands are facing the test of upgrading and being replaced. This, however, also presents an opportunity to the once niche tea to catch up and establish a brand. A typical example is Pingyang Huangtang Tea.

Along with the restoration and promotion of the Pingyang Huangtang ICH production techniques, Xinlian Village in Shuitou Township has created a national 3A scenic spot - Pingyang Huangtang Tea Expo Park, which now is a theme IP image of the village. Through improving infrastructure and creating dotted landscapes, the tea regions have been turned into scenic spots; by laying out tent hotels and photogenic destinations, the tea gardens have become a paradise; after attracting county men of virtue to invest in boutique B&Bs etc., the land of tea has been transformed into a land of dream; by developing cultural creative products, the tea production base also offers choice goods for shopping.

The matchmaking of tea and tourism achieves a deep integration of the primary, secondary and tertiary industries. It is becoming an emerging model for Wenzhou’s early tea to explore tea tasting, tea shopping, recuperation and leisure.