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Located in southeast Fujian Province, the coastal city Quanzhou is dotted with rolling hills, valleys, and basins; the Daiyun Mountain extends southwest from the northeast of the city.

China TodayUpdated: September 12, 2017

The Anxi Tea Culture

China is the birthplace of tea and the cradle of tea culture. Fujian, a coastal province in Southeast China, is an ideal place for growing tea, thanks to its warm, humid climate. Locally produced oolong tea is one of the most distinctive varieties of Chinese tea; Tieguanyin, produced in Anxi County of Quanzhou City, is the finest variety of oolong tea.

Anxi County, 53 km west of Quanzhou's downtown area, is the birthplace and main manufacturing area of Tieguanyin. Also known as China's tea capital, Anxi enjoys year-round clement weather. The county is surrounded by verdant ridges and peaks, rippled with clear creeks that wind their way through them.

The history of Anxi's tea production goes back 1,000 years. While cultivating the famous Tieguanyin, local tea farmers have formed a complete set of unique techniques on tea cultivation and brewing, as well as tea appreciation and tasting, thus shaping distinct local folk tea customs and the ancient and splendid Anxi tea culture.

The most wonderful folk custom here is Doucha (tea game). It is an interesting and challenging activity, and a winner will be crowned at the end. In ancient times, Doucha was a widely practiced social activity, and was usually held in three separate places: some Doucha were carried out in tea processing workshops for participants to taste and evaluate the fresh product; some were held in the downtown tea shops among tea sellers and lovers, with the aim of soliciting business and attracting customers; and finally, scholars and officials also held their own refined version of Doucha, by leisurely savoring the tea in famous scenic spots and officials' mansions.

In Anxi, people obsessed with Doucha include expert tea makers, ordinary tea lovers, and tea dealers. Whenever new tea comes into season, Doucha activities can be seen everywhere from small yards in tea grower's homes, to teahouses and teashops, as well as in competition venues where organizers search for "the King of Tea." A group of experts gather together around several old-fashioned square tables, sitting on long wooden benches. Dozens of teacups arranged in front of them emanate a wonderful aroma. This is the joy of drinking tea.

The more formal and more serious Doucha is usually organized by different levels of the government, and is called the Competition for the King of Tea. In the competition, participants first hand in a share of their own tea leaves as per requirement. The organizing committee invites tea experts as judges to evaluate the tea, taking into consideration such factors as appearance, color, fragrance, and flavor, with a notary supervising the entire process. The winner will don a crown to match his/her red robe and broad silk belt tied around the waist, with a trophy in his/her hands. The winner will also be carried up in a sedan chair, with a parade consisting of hundreds of people following the crowned champion. The procession will pass through major streets and lanes of the city.

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