2009/10/14

Tea in Chinese Television Series - Part 2

Di Yi Cha Zhuang第一茶庄

This is the story of the turmoil of a wealthy tea family and their business through the tumultuous times of the Japanese occupation of China.

Each scene has a very rich and beautiful setting; and there are episodes of tea brewing using zisha tea ware.

There is also the personal conflict between Zhao Tian Yu 趙天宇and Li Tian Ci 李天賜brought about because of revenge over lost love; which then spreads to affect the Zhao family business.

There are also overtones of traitorous behavior as Li Tian Ci uses the Japanese to further his evil ambitions.

Li Tian Ci becomes the underling of the Japanese business man Song Yuan, who under Song Yuan’s tutelage is taught and directed to use unscrupulous and ruthless means to achieve business objectives in their competition with the Zhao family tea business.

But not only does the Zhao family have to face the Li Tian Ci problem, other forces are working to break apart the family fortune. There is the wife of the older brother who is very unfilial toward the Zhao family. Then there is the vile treachery, swindling, and blackmail orchestrated by Song Yuan to destroy the name and fortune of the Xuan He tea business, (Xuan He Cha Zhuang 宣和茶莊) and the Zhao family.

The story goes on to portray the life events of each member of the family through prosperity and hardship.

This is a very compelling story, and one certainly worth watching. Of course, there is tea in the series, so it’s one of my favorites too. Hope I can find it on DVD in China soon.

The entire program can be seen on Youku here.

Production year: 2005
Number of episodes: 30
Language: Mandarin

Tea in Chinese Television Series

Lately, I watched a Chinese television series about tea titled Plain Love 2 茶是故鄉濃 (Cha Shi Gu Xiang Nong) on video sharing site Youku.

This is an uplifting, heartfelt, and inspiring story about love, heartbreak, greed, envy, vicious plots, treachery, backstabbing, shame, and revenge intertwined with the day-to-day business of a tea farm/factory.

Every scene has depictions of tea picking, tea manufacture, or tea brewing; though it seems unlikely one factory would produce so many different kinds of tea as depicted in the series. There is mention of Maofeng, Longjing, Puer, Tieguanyin, Oolong, and other teas - seemingly all growing on the same farm.

All the rivalry and bitterness is centered within one tea factory, with the underlings/workers striving to get the better of their fellow coworkers and become recognized and praised by the matriarch factory boss to attain the coveted prize of more responsibility, and more face within the factory by becoming a tea production master and manager.

The setting is set in Guangxi during the Peoples’ Republic era. Not only are there tensions between coworkers, there is tension between Han and the Mountain-dwelling peoples (the credits mention thanks to the Yao community). There is also the rivalry between the Song family and the disgraced and defunct Fang family tea businesses as the heir to the Fang family, Fang You Wei 方有爲 strives to re-develop the characteristic Fang-style tea and regain honor and fame to the Fang family name; which was blackened some 20 years before, leading to the death of his father.

There is also the struggle for love between Fang You Wei 方有爲 (played by Lin Jia Dong林家棟) and Pan Mei Ya 盤妹雅 (played by Zhang Ke Yi張可頤) .

While all the vile scheming in the movie (in every episode) left me wondering if the characters really understood anything about tea, in the final few episodes, Fang You Wei and others finally come to realize the true value and meaning of tea.

This is a show more about evil schemes than it is about tea. But still, it is a very interesting story. And since there is so much tea in it, it is one of my favorite shows.


If you want to see the show for yourself, the link is here.

Production year: 1999
Number of episodes: 32
Language: Mandarin

2009/07/02

Tea Movies

Last week I was able to view 3 movies I know of that have tea as the theme - sort of.

There is a Chinese movie called "Tea Love" or 茶恋. It seems to be a Mainland China production about the life-story of Lu Yu. Now such a movie would seem exciting right? Yeah, but this movie wasn't the best. There were so many details left out about Lu Yu's life that the whole movie really gives you no sense of his importance or who he is exactly. All in all, boring. I wish there were a better, newer production with a bigger budget.

There is also a Japanese movie called "Rikyu" or 利休. Exactly the same as the "Tea Love" movie - a life story about Japanese Tea Master Sen no Rikyu. And also equally boring. And exactly no sense of his importance and contribution to tea. At least from reading the subtitles, that's the impression I get.

There is a relatively newer production called Tea Fight or 斗茶. Now this is a movie worth watching. And I would watch it over and over again. The story premise is kind of dumb though. But I totally get it. Lots of interesting characters, and actually a few good lines in there. The dialog switches back and forth between Mandarin and Japanese. All in all, a cool tea movie. Hope there are more tea movies soon like this one.