Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/443

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

bodies or layers. The lower part, constituting the great bulk of the deposit, is a mass of crystals of a faint greenish color, mixed with a considerable amount of black, slimy mud. It is known as the "solid soda," and is said to have a depth of some twenty or thirty feet. Above this solid soda occurs the superficial layer of pure white crystallized sulphate of soda. This is formed by solution in water of the upper part of the lower body, the crystals being deposited by evaporation or by cooling, or by the two combined. A little rain in the spring and autumn furnishes this water, besides which innumerable small sluggish-flowing springs are present in all the lakes; but on account of the dry air of this region the surface is generally dry, or nearly so, and in midsummer the white clouds of efflorescent sulphate that are whirled up by the ever-blowing winds of Wyoming can be seen for miles. The layer of white sulphate is from three to twelve inches in thickness. When the crystals are removed, the part laid bare is soon replenished by a new crop.

 

The Tea Gardens of Johore.—Johore is an independent kingdom—the only one now in the Malay Peninsula—on the Strait of Malacca, and fourteen miles from the British colony of Singapore. It is one of the richest native states in Asia—rich in its deposits of tin and iron, and in its virgin forests of valuable tropical trees, and in the productive capacity of its soil. The present sultan, Abu Bakar, has experimented liberally in the development of the native crops of tapioca, cocoa, sago, gambler, spices, and gums, and has introduced the cultivation of tea, coffee, and pepper with such success that they now form the chief products of the kingdom. The Johore tea has been declared by experts to be of a very superior quality. The moist heat required by the tea plant is afforded in such perfection by the climate of Johore that the plants flush, or afford the fresh shoots from which the young leaves are picked to make our tea, all the year round. The bushes are planted in rows about five feet apart, with a space of about five feet between the stools. Each bush flushes about three times a month; and once a year it flowers, and is then pruned. The leaves are picked by Chinese or coolies, who turn in their pickings twice a day, and are paid by the piece. An industrious picker can pick, when the flush is good, as much as sixty pounds of green leaf a day, which will make a little more than fourteen pounds of dried leaves. The green leaves are carefully "withered" in bamboo trays by experienced Chinese operators till they are sufficiently dried—a fact which is determined by the touch; they are then rolled, either by hand rollers or rollers worked by steam, in such a way that they are pressed and twisted without losing juice. After this they are placed in heaps upon a bench, where they are turned over and over again by hand, to be "fermented," till they lose their original green and become blue; thence they are removed to a large drying chest called a sirocco, and exposed to a heat of 260º F. Each sirocco will hold four trays, which are placed at different levels. The first batch of leaf is placed on the top tray, and after a few minutes is withdrawn, turned over by hand for a while, and is then placed on the second tray, while the first tray is filled with a new lot. The operation is repeated until each lot has had four treatments, when it is considered "made." The tea is then sorted in revolving cylinders made of wire work of different degrees of fineness. As the cylinders revolve, the tea in the top one works through the meshes, according to size, into the cylinder below it, and so on. The meshes determine the grades, which are known as broken orange pekoe, orange pekoe, broken pekoe, pekoe, pekoe souchong, and souchong, in the order of their value. More than half—perhaps sixty per cent—of the making will be souchong. Next come the weighing and packing. Four and a quarter pounds of green leaf are supposed to make a pound of "made" tea.

 

Early Alpine Climbing.—In prehistoric times, says Mr. W. M. Carney, the Alps were traversed by two or three trade roads, the most important being that along which the exchange in bronze and amber took place. Italy was invaded over more than one pass in early times. In the mediæval period the passes of the Alps were largely used by pilgrims, the Great St. Bernard being their favorite route. An interesting account is extant of the passage of this route in winter by Abbot Rudolf, of the Troad, in the year