« السابقةمتابعة »
twelve native assistants; each Chinaman with six assistants can only superintend one locality, and the Tea leaves from the various other tracts, widely separated, must be brought to these two places for manufacture. The consequence is, that an additional number of labourers must always be employed to bring the leaves from so great a distance. The leaves suffer when brought in large quantities from a distance, as they soon begin to ferment, and the labour of only preparing them so far in process that they may not spoil by the morning, is ex. cessive. The men have often to work until very late to accomplish this. When labour falls so very heavy, and on so very few, it cannot be expected that it can be equally well executed, as if more had been employed. The leaves last gathered are also much larger than they ought to be, for want of being collected and manufactured earlier ; consequently the Tea is inferior in quality. I mention this, to shew the inconveni. ence and expense of having so few Tea makers.
The samples of Black-Tea made by the twelve assistants having been approved of by the Tea Committee in Calcutta, it was my intention to have distributed the men amongst the different tracts, but the late disturbances on our frontier have prevented this arrangement; and I have been obliged to employ ten men in Assam (two others having gone to Calcutta in charge of Tea) at the tract called Kahung, which is becoming a very extensive and important Tea locality-s0 many others being near it, which can all be thrown into one. When we have a sufficient number of manufacturers, so that we can afford to have some at each tract, or garden, as they have in China, then we may hope to compete with that nation in cheapness of produce; nay, we might, and ought, to undersell them; for if each tract, or garden, had its own Tea maker and labourers, the collecting of the leaves would not perhaps occupy more than twelve days in each crop; after which the men might be discharged, or profitably employed on the Tea grounds. But now, for the want of a sufficient number of labourers and Tea makers, there is a constant gathering of leaves throughout the month; and as I said before, those gathered last can only make inferior Teas; besides the great loss by the leaves getting too old, and hereby unfit for being made into any Tea ; and all this entirely for want of hands to pluck the leaves. It is true we have gained twelve Black-Tea makers this year, in addition to the last ; and twelve more native assistants have been appointed, who may be available next year to manufacture Tea independently, as they were learning the art all last year. We have also had an addition to our establishment of two Chinese Green Tea manufacturers, and twelve native assistants have been placed under them as learners; but what are these compared
to the vast quantity of Tea, or the ground the Tea plants cover, or might be made to cover in three years, but a drop of water in the ocean? We must go on at a much faster pace in the two great essentials- Tea manufacturers, and labourers,-in order to have them available at each garden, when the leaves come into season.
If I were asked, when will this Tea experiment be in a sufficient state of forwardness, so as to be transferable to speculators ? I would answer, when a sufficient number of native Tea manufacturers have been taught to prepare both the Black and the Green sort; and that under one hundred available Tea manufacturers, it would not be worth while for private speculators to take up the scheme on a large scale; on a small one it would be a different thing. In the course of two or three years we ought to have that number. Labourers must be introduced, in the first instance, to give a tone to the Assam Opiumcaters ; but the great fear is, that these latter would corrupt the new comers. If the cultivation of Tea were encouraged, and the Poppy put a stop to in Assam, the Assamese would make a splendid set of Tea manufacturers and Tea cultivators.
In giving a statement of the number of Tea tracts, when I say that Tingri, or any other tract is so long and so broad, it must be understood, that space to that extent only has been cleared, being found to contain all the plants which grew thickly together; as it was not thought worth while at the commencement of these experi- ' ments to go to the expense of clearing any more of the forest for the sake of a few straggling plants. If these straggling plants were followed up, they would in all probability be found gradually becoming more numerous, until you found yourself in another tract as thick and as numerous as the one you left; and if the straggling plants of this new tract were traced, they would by degrees disappear until not one was to be seen. But if you only proceeded on through the jungles, it is ten to one that you would come upon a solitary Tea plant, a little further on you would meet with another; until you gradually found yourself in another new tract, as full of plants as the one you had left, growing absolutely so thick as to impede each others growth. Thus I am convinced one might go on for miles from one tract into another. All my Tea tracts about Tingri and Kahung are formed in this manner, with only a patch of jungle between them, which is not greater than what could be conveniently filled up by thinning those parts that have too many plants. At Kahung I have Jately knocked three tracts into one, and I shall most probably have to continue doing the same until one tract shall be made of what now consists of a dozen. I have never seen the end of Juggundoo's Tea tract,
nor yet Kujudoo's or Ningren's. I feel confident that the two former run over the hills and join, or nearly join, some of our tracts in the Muttuck country. Nor have I seen the end of Kahung tract, all about that part of the country being one vast succession of Tea from Rungagurra on the Debrew, to Jaipore on the Buri Dehing. It may be seen on inspecting the map how thickly the Tea localities are scattered—those that are known; and they are but a small portion compared to those that are unknown. There is the Namsong tract on the Naga hills, the largest that has yet been seen, and the extent of which is not ascertained. The tracts on the Gubind hills are unknown ; and this is likewise the case with Haut Holah and Cheridoo; so that there is a large field for improvement throughout, to say nothing of life and the Singho tracts, which may be found to be one unbounded link to Hookum; and who knows but it crosses the Irrawaddy to China ? Many Tea tracts I know have been cut down in ignorance by the natives, to make room for the rice field, for firewood, and fences, but many of these tracts have sprung up again, more vigorous than before. Witness that at Ningren, where the natives say that every thing was cut down, and the land planted with rice, except on the high ground.
With respect to the Tea plant being most productive on high or low ground, I cannot well say, as all our tracts are on the plains ; but from
what little I have seen of the hill tracts, I should suppose they were • not more productive. In China the hill tracts produce the best Teas, and they may do the same here. Almost all my tracts on the plains are nearly on the same level, I should think. Nudwa perhaps is a little higher than Tingri, and Tingri a little higher than Kahung, but I believe they are equally productive ; although if I leaned towards any side, with my limited experience, I should say that the low land, such as at Kahung, which is not so low as ever to be inundated by the strongest rise in the river, is the best. The plants seem to love and court moisture, not from stagnant pools, but running streams. The Kahung tracts have the water in and around them; they are all in heavy tree. jungles, which makes it very expensive to clear them. An extent of 300 by 300 will cost from 200 to 300 rupees ; i. e. according to the manner in which the miserable Opium-smoking Assamese work. This alone ought to point out the utility of introducing a superior race of labourers, who would not only work themselves, but encourage women and children to do the same ;-in plucking and sorting leaves they might be profitably turned to account for both parties. This I have not been able to instil into the heads of the Assamese, who will not permit their women to come into the Tea gardens. Indeed unless more labourers can be furnished, a larger amount
of Tea must not be looked for at present. Last season it was with the greatest difficulty that I could get a sufficient number of hands to gather the leaves. The plucking of the leaves may appear to many a very easy and light employment, but there are not a few of our coolies who would much rather be employed on any other job;
the standing in one position so many hours occasions swellings in · the legs, as our plants are not like those of China, only three feet high,
but double that size, so that one must stand upright to gather the leaves. The Chinese pluck theirs squatting down. We lie under a great disadvantage in not having regular men to pluck the leaves; those that have been taught to do so, can pluck twice as many as those that have not, and we can seldom get hold of the same men two seasons running. I am of opinion that our trees will become of a spaller and more convenient size after a few years cultivation ; because, trimming of the plants, and taking all the young leaves almost as soon as they appear, month after month and year after year, and the plants being deprived of the rich soil they had been living on from time unknown, must soon tell upon them. Transplanting also helps to stunt and shorten the growth of these plants. The Chinese declared to me, that the China plants now at Deenjoy would never have attained to half the perfection they now have, under ten years in their own country.
I may here observe, that the sun has a material effect on the Jeaves; for as soon as the trees that shade the plants are removed, the leaf, from a fine deep green, begins to turn into a yellowish colour, which it retains for some months, and then again gradually changes to a healthy green, but now becomes thicker, and the plant throws out far more numerous leaves than when in the shade. The more the leaves are plucked, the greater number of them are produced ; if the leaves of the first crop were not gathered, you might look in vain for the leaves of the second crop. The Tea made from the leaves in the shade is not near so good as that from leaves exposed to the sun ; the leaves of plants in the sun are much earlier in season than of those in the shade ; the leaves from the shady tract give out a more watery liquid when rolled, and those from the sunny a more glutinous substance. When the leaves of either are rolled on a sunny day, they emit less of this liquid than on a rainy day. This juice decreases as the season advances. The plants in the sun have flowers and fruit much earlier than those in the shade, and are far more numerous ; they have flowers and seeds in July, and fruit in November. Numerous plants are to be seen that by some accident, either cold or rain, have lost all their flowers, and commence throwing out fresh
flower-buds more abundantly than ever. Thus it is not unfrequent to see some plants in flower so late as March (some of the China plants were in flower in April) bearing at once the old and the new seeds, flower-buds, and full-blown flowers—all at one and the same time. The rain also greatly affects the leaves; for some sorts of Tea cannot be made on a rainy day; for instance the Pouchong and Mingehen. The leaves for these ought to be collected about 10 A. M. on a sunny morning, when the dew has evaporated. The Pouchong can only be manufactured from the leaves of the first crop; but the Mingehen, although it requires the saine care in making as the other, can yet be made from any crop, provided it is made on a sunny morning. The Chinese dislike gathering leaves on a rainy day for any description of Tea, and never will do so, unless necessity requires it. Some pretend to distinguish the Teas made on a rainy and on a sunny day, much in the same manner as they can distinguish the shady from the sunny Teasby their inferiority. If the large leaves for the Black-Tea were collected on a rainy day, about seven seers, or fourteen pounds, of green leaves would be required to make one seer, or two pounds, of Tea; but if collected on a sunny day, about four seers, or eight pounds, of green leaves, would make one seer, or two pounds, of Tea ;-80 the Chinamen say. I tried the experiment, and found it to be correct. Our season for Tea making generally commences about the middle of March ; the second crop in the middle of May; the third crop about the first of July ; but the time varies according to the rains setting in sooner or later. As the manufacture of the Sychee and the Mingehew BlackTeas has never been described, I will here attempt to give some idea how it is performed.
Sychee Black-Tea. The leaves of this are the Souchong and Pou. chong. After they have been gathered and dried in the sun in the usual way (see my former account of Black-Tea) they are beaten and put away four different times; they are then put into baskets, pressed down, and a cloth put over them. When the leaves become of a brownish colour by the heat, they throw out and have a peculiar smell, and are then ready for the pan, the bottom of which is made red hot. This pan is fixed in masonry breast high, and in a sloping position, forming an angle of forty degrees. Thus the pan being placed on an inclined plane, the leaves, when tossed about in it cannot escape behind, or on the sides, as it is built high up, but fall out near the edge close to the manufacturer, and always into his hands, so as to be swept out easily. When the bottom of this pan has been made red hot by a wood fire, the operator puts a cloth to his mouth to prevent inhaling any of the hot vapour. A man on the left of him stands ready with a basket