Page:An account of the manufacture of the bla.pdf/13

This page has been validated.

[ 4 ]

and the whole placed over a charcoal fire. The fire is very nicely regulated; there must not be the least smoke, and the charcoal should be well picked.

When the fire is lighted it is fanned until it gets a fine red glare and the smoke is all gone off; being every now and then stirred and the coals brought into the centre, so as to leave the outer edge low. When the leaves are put into the drying basket, they are gently separated by lifting them up with the fingers of both hands extended far apart and allowing them to fall down again; they are placed 3 or 4 inches deep on the sieve, leaving a passage in the centre for the hot air to pass. Before it is put over the fire the drying basket receives a smart slap with both hands in the act of lifting it up, which is done to shake down any leaves that might otherwise drop through the sieve, or to prevent them from falling into the fire and occasioning a smoke, which would affect and spoil the Tea This slap on the basket is invariably applied throughout the stages of the Tea manufacture. There is always a large basket underneath to receive the small leaves that fall, which are afterwards collected, dried and added to the other Tea; in no case are the baskets or sieves permitted to touch or remain on the ground, but always laid on a receiver with three legs (fig. 11). After the leaves have been half dried in the drying-basket, and while they are still soft, they are taken off the fire and put into large open—worked baskets (fig. 1) and then put on the shelf (fig. 4) in order that the Tea may improve in colour.

Next day the leaves are all sorted into large, middling, and small; sometimes there are four sorts. All these the Chinese informed me become so many different kinds of Teas; the smallest leaves they called Pha-ho,