In China, early April is prime time for tea picking.
In New Hampshire, the Confucius Institute a partnership between the University of New Hampshire and Chengdu University in China — honored the season this week with a tea sampling at the UNH-Manchester campus.
A crowd of around 50 people line up to taste some of the finest teas from China. Sylvia Cote from Manchester takes a sip of the delicate Jasmine tea.
"It’s lovely. The aroma is lovely. And I’m anxious to try the Oolong because that’s my favorite. This has been fun. I have Buckwheat right now. Let me tell you if I like it. It’s nutty. It’s different. Not bad."
Yige Wang is the co-director of the Confucius Institute. He crumbles a small brick of compressed leaves with his hands.
The leaves smell sweet, like flowers.
Wang says it’s a fragrance steeped in history:
"This is from the Ming Dynasty, where the emperor was cured by this special tea. And then hence, it became very popular. This is one of the most expensive teas in the world. One kilo of Da Hong Pao could fetch two million dollars."
No matter what the price, Wang says the soothing effects of tea begin with its preparation:
"Whether it’s an elaborate process, or simply a pouring of water and making tea — it takes time. It helps you stop, pause and then really enjoy the tea and be in the moment."
Wang hopes today’s tea symposium will cultivate an appetite for Chinese culture.
The Confucius Institute will host another tea sampling at the UNH- Durham campus on April 16th.