Tea & the Cultural Revolution?


Culture, language, tangibles, intangibles from countries known for tea

Tea & the Cultural Revolution?

Postby Tiercel » Apr 22nd, '12, 03:26

I was browsing the web a few days ago looking for something else, and I stumbled across a website specializing in selling tea from Taiwan. I don't remember the site. On that site, they claimed that during the Cultural Revolution, much of the tea making skill and knowledge of mainland China was lost, but was preserved on Taiwan.

I'm still fairly new to the world of fine tea, and I've had good tea from both mainland China and Taiwan, but is there any truth to that site's claim?

Thank you.

Keith
Tiercel
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Nov 5th, '1

Re: Tea & the Cultural Revolution?

Postby Poohblah » Apr 22nd, '12, 12:25

Yes. The cultural revolution was not kind to many forms of art & scholarship. Ever since the KMT fled to Taiwan, Taiwan has seen itself as kind of the "gatekeeper" to Chinese customs.
User avatar
Poohblah
 
Posts: 929
Joined: Mar 4th, '1
Location: somewhere over the rainbow

Re: Tea & the Cultural Revolution?

Postby Tanzan » May 11th, '12, 03:25

I was actually interested in this same question as well and while I can't speak at any length about the "tea knowledge" shifting over to Taiwan during the cultural revolution, I don't think that the loss was as severe as many in the West seem to assume. The worst effects of the cultural revolution were felt in the cities, and the countryside in many cases was left alone. By the late 60's the communal agriculture approach was already being dismantled, and the planting made during the cultural revolution allowed for a huge surge in exports in the early 80's.

I think the perception of Taiwan as a "gatekeeper" of tea customs is probably so pervasive in the US because we had closer contact with Taiwan for the last half century. Also, tea is a hugely income dependent product; tea consumption rises with household earnings. Accordingly, Taiwan had a much larger domestic market for tea earlier on, perhaps allowing for the spread of more expertise.

Got all this info through a couple of JSTOR searches. If you're interested, a book that continually popped up in my research was Green Gold: The Political Economy of China's Post-1949 Tea Industry by Dan M. Etherington. I am going to pick it up at the library soon, I'll post if I find anything else particularly interesting.
Tanzan
 
Posts: 3
Joined: May 1st, '1

Postby mbanu » May 11th, '12, 04:19

I guess maybe one could say that Taiwan helped preserve a taste for Chinese teas overseas after tea exports from the mainland dried up?

Although today Taiwan is famous for the oolong teas that made it famous back in the 19th century, that was not a continuous thing; oolong production went into a decline during the 1930s (the Japanese believed the future of tea production for Taiwan was in black teas), and it wasn't until the mid 1980s that oolong manufacture picked up again. So from the 30s until the 80s, Taiwan was mostly known for making copycat teas... Lapsang Souchong for Western markets, gunpowder greens for export to North Africa, sencha copies for Japan, etc.
Last edited by mbanu on May 11th, '12, 04:25, edited 1 time in total.
mbanu
 
Posts: 99
Joined: Oct 14th, '

Re:

Postby Poohblah » May 11th, '12, 16:21

mbanu wrote:I guess maybe one could say that Taiwan helped preserve a taste for Chinese teas overseas after tea exports from the mainland dried up?

Yes, that is also true to a degree. For a brief period of time from 1949-1972 (about), Taiwan supplied the entirety of oolong exports to America. When China-US trade opened up again in 72, Taiwanese oolong makers could no longer export their oolongs to the US because Chinese producers were outcompeting them.

Like you said, things got better in the 80s, when Taiwanese producers caught up again in terms of price. Today, of course, the situation has balanced out, and you can buy oolongs from both Chinese and Taiwanese producers, and Japan, Hawaii, and New Zealand also produce oolongs to some extent.
User avatar
Poohblah
 
Posts: 929
Joined: Mar 4th, '1
Location: somewhere over the rainbow

Re:

Postby Tanzan » May 13th, '12, 19:27

mbanu wrote:Although today Taiwan is famous for the oolong teas that made it famous back in the 19th century, that was not a continuous thing; oolong production went into a decline during the 1930s (the Japanese believed the future of tea production for Taiwan was in black teas)


This reminds me, I ran across this on Red Blossom Tea's website the other day:

http://www.redblossomtea.com/tea/rare-and-aged/formosa-assam.html

Pricey, but a direct result of the Japanese occupation, which is pretty interesting.
Tanzan
 
Posts: 3
Joined: May 1st, '1

Re: Tea & the Cultural Revolution?

Postby iovetea » Jul 10th, '12, 15:17

Tiercel wrote:I was browsing the web a few days ago looking for something else, and I stumbled across a website specializing in selling tea from Taiwan. I don't remember the site. On that site, they claimed that during the Cultural Revolution, much of the tea making skill and knowledge of mainland China was lost, but was preserved on Taiwan.

I'm still fairly new to the world of fine tea, and I've had good tea from both mainland China and Taiwan, but is there any truth to that site's claim?

Thank you.

Keith


Im not an expert in tea. but what i know from various tea magazinea is that isn't true. They produced some of the best pu erh at that time, which now sells for thousands of dollars, tea even taiwanese imported them.
Even so i at the moment like taiwanese oolong more, chinese have really awesome tea too. In my childhood i drank a tea my father got from friends, he said he has tea friends who send him that as a gift. Ut was magical, i don't know wich tea it was sadly. funny most even i, tend to underestimate chinese green tea, but its because its really hard to get hands on good chinese green tea nowadays.
iovetea
 
Posts: 172
Joined: Jul 9th, '1

Re: Tea & the Cultural Revolution?

Postby wyardley » Jul 10th, '12, 22:01

iovetea wrote:
Tiercel wrote:On that site, they claimed that during the Cultural Revolution, much of the tea making skill and knowledge of mainland China was lost, but was preserved on Taiwan.

Im not an expert in tea. but what i know from various tea magazinea is that isn't true. They produced some of the best pu erh at that time, which now sells for thousands of dollars, tea even taiwanese imported them.

This is a complicated (and politically sensitive) question, and I think most folks who have an opinion on it probably have some kind of bias one way or another.

I do not claim to be an expert in either Chinese history or in aged pu'er, but I think it is true that most of the famous landmark vintage cakes were produced before the CR. Tea produced during the CR (especially the early years) would be fairly rare and hard to authenticate, and while it would probably be worth thousands of dollars for one piece, the stuff produced pre-CR would be worth more, whether that's because it's better, or just because it's older. For example, 50s hong yin, or any teas produced before the 40s, is probably more valuable than most tea from the late 60s / early 70s.

While I don't think it's true that all tea knowledge was lost in the Mainland, or that Taiwan has been singlehandedly keeping the torch alive for years, I think most people would agree that the Cultural Revolution did have a destructive influence on Chinese art and culture in various ways.
User avatar
wyardley
 
Posts: 1921
Joined: Jan 11th, '
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: Tea & the Cultural Revolution?

Postby iovetea » Jul 11th, '12, 14:44

As i see it china is so big it has thousands of good teas, most chinese don't know most of them themselves. Its really hard to judge anything about tea. Just imagine all the people who are producing tea for 20 years for example probably most of them aren't even big masters by now and they only produce 1 kind of tea, i think its probably nearly impossible to judge something as complex as tea.
iovetea
 
Posts: 172
Joined: Jul 9th, '1

Re: Tea & the Cultural Revolution?

Postby David R. » Jul 15th, '12, 04:16

wyardley wrote:... I think most people would agree that the Cultural Revolution did have a destructive influence on Chinese art and culture in various ways.


There is a beautiful things about this : Farewell my Concubine, palme d'or in 1993.

Image
User avatar
David R.
 
Posts: 1112
Joined: Oct 6th, '0
Location: France


Instant Messenger

Permissions
You cannot post new topics
You cannot reply to topics
You cannot edit your posts
You cannot delete your posts
You cannot post attachments
Navigation