Sunday, 14 March 2010

Chrysanthemum tea from the slopes of Yellow Mountain


The Chinese are tea drinkers. Everywhere you go in China you will see people carrying jars of tea - literally their old recycled glass jars with lids! And the tea can be green or brown or even red! Often is has bits and pieces floating in it - flowers and roots, leaves and stems.

One of the popular teas which is said to relieve head aches is Chrysanthemum tea. In these pics you can see the tea growing in the terraces on the side of the mountain. At the time we visited they were harvesting yellow and white flowers. the people work incredibly hard bent over all day with huge packs on their backs, but they still had a ready smile and a wave for us. 
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Embroidery shopping in Suzhou

Visiting the silk embroidery workshops in Suzhou has been yet another highlight of being in China. Silk embroidery is an ancient art here and the women who do it are just magic. They can make two sides of the same embroidery absolutely identical. I also saw an embroidery where the two sides were different and the embroiderer made two completely different pictures from one side to the other - I was fascinated - How do you do that? And there is not a knot or a loose thread showing.

We left very early on a miserably cold day just after a light dusting of snow. Driving to Suzhou we went through quite a few snow showers and rain and I have to say I was questioning my sanity on coming out on such a dismal day. We arrived at the Embroidery Street where there are over 300 embroidery shops and workshops. It was impossible to visit them all. Many of them actually have very similar products and some stand out as just superb. I guess it is like any other craft - there are artisans who are masters and others who, although quite competent, will never reach that level of expertise.

In the top right corner of the collage you can see the silk embroidery I bought. It is goldfish/koi in a circle feeding on lotus flowers. It is strikingly beautiful and I have been "eying it off" at our local markets for a while now! I bargained like a veteran and was able to get it very cheap - cheaper than the piece of glass in it would have cost me in Australia (let alone the embroidery, the frame and framing materials) and for about one third of the price I could buy it for in the market. I could have bought many pieces - but what do I do with them!

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