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
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