Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Trip To The Zhu Ye Qing Museum and Gardens

About a week or so ago, one of my students mentioned about a tea museum in Emei City. They were not sure exactly where it was so thought I would find out. My Freshman Writing Class #2 had a local Emei City student studying at Jiaoda so thought I would ask her.

As the students were working on an assignment, I asked Cecilia about the tea museum and she immediately volunteered to take me there. Two other students excitedly volunteered to go with us: Mr. Taunis and Ms. Giselle. We decided to meet at around 10 AM on Saturday (March 7) to catch a bus to Emei City and then take a taxi to the museum. All of us seemed to be greatly excited about the prospects of visiting the museum. Could it be that the Mists of Emei had been causing us some depression? For me this was most definitely true.

Saturday morning I got a call from Sunee concerning her return tickets. Seems we purchased a return economy instead of the expected business seat as we were led to believe. This little oversight meant that she could not get an earlier flight home and had to wait until Sunday. She was upset and wanted me to get someone to call the travel agency. I told Sunee I was going to see some students at 10 AM and I would take care of it.

Since Giselle, Taunis and Cecilia were more than capable of helping me get to the bottom of this "mistake," we all decided to go to the travel agency first. It was only a few meters from the bus stop.

The travel agency had some minor remodeling done and I almost did not recognize it. Between me and the three students we explained the situation to the agent. She did not perform impressively and it took about a half hour or more to finally come up with the answer - the return ticket was indeed an economy ticket. The question thus was why were we charged so much money for a business travel and an economy return. The agent, only an employee, could not help us so I said we would see her again on the 15th when Sunee got back. Taunis was convinced that we had been cheated. We shall see!

The Zhu Ye Qing Tea Museum and Garden

After getting frustrated by the ticket agency, we caught a taxi to the gardens.

The taxi to the museum was 7 Yuan and there seemed to be quite a number of tour buses parked outside. The welcoming sign was in both Chinese and English and gave a decent description of the place.

My three student guides anxious to get started as they pose for the opening photographs for this blog.

Hey look, Mr. Taunis yelled at us, this is the way to the museum. Was he reading the Chinese or the English?

This is the obvious Zhuyeqing rock as the brand name was prominently displayed on it. Zhuyeqing is both the name of the tea and a registered trademark of this big tea company. Makes for some confusion, especially for the none locals. Cecilia explained the situation to me very easily. Zhuyeqing Company charges five times more for their tea than does the local vendors for the same tea. I understood that fairly quick!

On the way to the museum, there was a row of bronze statues on both sides of the walk. I liked this teapicker so thought I would share her with you.

I also like the Sichuan-style tea server. I had heard about these guys so was hoping to see one in action today.

The entrance to the museum was obvious so we went up to check it out. The cost to get in was 5 Yuan so I bought our tickets. We all received a little cup of Zhuyeqing to try.

This is the ticket to the museum. Always a nice souvenir in China.

As we walked in, the ladies at the entrance told us we were just in time to see the tea demonstration so we hurried to the auditorium to watch. Of course, it was a Chinese Tea Ceremony.

It was ok but way to short. In fact, the whole thing did not even take fifteen minutes. It was a big disappointment plus I had seen better demos up close and personal.

As we walked out and followed the small crowd of visitors, we came to a large room with antique furniture. Must be a typical Chinese tea sitting room. So Taunis and Giselle sat and posed as appropriate on the chairs.

Around the room on the tables were tea stuff. Most of it had cracks or broken pieces. This teapot was very large and probably pretty useless because of its size.

Since we were in a tea sitting room, I figured I might as well sit for a photo as well.

Don't forget me! Don't forget me! Cecilia yelled as she sat in the sitting chair with her favorite bunny in hand.

The wall was covered with Chinese tea stuff so thought I would snap a picture for the blog. Believe the Chinese characters are for respect and humility or some such thing. For sure the one on the right is "respect."

The Museum

The next part of the building was the tea museum. It was small, nicely laid out but does not compete with the tea museum in Jia Jiang. Most of the stuff was rather drab and uninteresting. Might as well take some pictures since I am here.

I really liked this plaque so I took a picture of it. Believe I will try to find one like it for our Chinese compound in Thailand which we plan to build.

This is a root that grew (or was trimmed) to look like the Chinese character for tea - "cha."

Bet there are lots of teapots in here? Don't bet against it because there were. This weird one looked to be made of bamboo.

Another plaque that would fit well into a Chinese compound located in southern Thailand, don't you think?

This was an interesting display that caught my attention. The large teapot was rather simple but refined and I loved the "cha" that shows on the book next to it.

Bet there are some teacups in this museum. Yep, I was right. This one had some buddhas inside and outside and looked to be very old.

Teapot anyone? Lots of interesting teapots on display.

All the exhibits had a professionally laid out explanation board next to them in both Chinese and English. Throughout the museum, one saw these bilingual information posters. Now that is a good idea for all of us foreigners.

Now here is a weird teapot! As I looked at it, I finally figured out what the thing in the back was - a spoon to scoop out the tea and put it in the pot. Actually, this was really a very attractive pot.

As we walked through the rooms full of museum stuff we came to a room set up for calligraphy. Nicely laid out. Once more Cecilia checks out the seating and even does some calligraphy for the photograph. She, of course, forgot that the brush needs to have ink on it to work.

Moving on we came to an area that was entitled Sichuan Scenes or something like that. I call this photograph - SPOUTS. These are the water spouts that the sichuan tea servers used.

I call this photograph - The Pour Idiot.

Both Giselle and Taunis do a much better rendition of the sichuan tea server.

Here Cecilia and I pose in front of the typical Sichuan tea place for a picture. Notice that Cecilia loaned me one of her pet bunnies to hold in my hand. She always seems to have bunnies whenever we take her picture.

How are you? I am fine and you? Taunis greets his teacher and they pose for a photograph in OLD EMEI CITY.

Nice pose of Giselle and Cecilia. Unfortunately for Cecilia, her bunnies must have been hiding in her pocket.

Looking closely at the display to try to figure out what it is. Right, ladies?

Interesting old BW photograph of a typical street scene in old Emei City.

Path to the Garden

We leave the museum and follow the path that leads to the tea garden.

Weird, over-sized teapots sat along the path on both sides. Most were boring but this guy was different so I snapped his picture.

What is it? What is it? Yelling for me to take a picture, I immediately obliged their frantic yells. Well, "it" was nothing more than a teapot with weird things on its lid.

Zhuyeqing Garden

The garden was very Chinese (who would have thought!) and lovely.

My three guides pose for a picture just as we enter the garden. They are anxious to show me what Chinese gardens are all about.

All "real" Chinese gardens have water be it a pond or a running river. This garden was no exception with a beautifully laid out pond and buildings.

All Chinese gardens have a bridge of some sort. This bridge looked great with the surrounding architectural forms.

Here is another view of the garden with pagoda, pond and the surrounding architecture forms again.

The Tea Plants

The tea plants. The tea plants. Where are the tea plants? Cecilia was anxious and excited to show us the tea plants so she asked one of the attendants. Straight ahead on our left - we can't miss them.

An information sign telling us about the famous Emei Mountain zhuyeqing tea. Of course, the Zhuyeqing Tea Company zhuyeqing tea is by far the best!

Rows upon rows upon rows of tea. Me thinks this is not real as the zhuyeqing tea is supposed to be high up on Emei Mountain. Do you want to bet these are tourist tea plants?

And finally here is a little zhuyeqing waiting to be picked. See the bamboo leaf shape of the young leaf just now coming out.