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Before Tea In Oolong Country, There Was Bamboo

Dropping in on my friend and local artisan of Dong Ding Oolong, I was promptly led out back to where the patriarch of this family was shearing the morning's harvest of spring bamboo shoots and packing them up for local market sellers.

This patriarch also happens to be a repeated past recipient of top ranking prizes in the local, and most prestigious Dong Ding Oolong Tea competitions. His family farm and factory have been inherited by his sons and grandsons, and he spends his days tending a substantial vegetable garden and doing things like harvesting bamboo shoots—not easy work! Yet, such an admirable lifestyle. World-class artisan of traditional Oolong Tea, humbly relinquishing his life work in developing his inheritance of tea making to his heirs. 

His son holds up a large mature root while describing the  quality and price difference between this and the smaller shoots his father places at the top of the prime stack. Notice the glove that Mr. Liu wears on his left hand. This is protection from the outer bark of the bamboo that has sharp edges. The entire outer leaf parts are removed and the inner, crisp tender shoot is prepared in various ways.

Bamboo is prevalent throughout Lugu township, and precedes tea as a main staple crop for local farmers. Tea has overcome bamboo as the primary produce, but bamboo has certainly not been abandoned. Lugu is renowned for its quality bamboo shoots, and local farmers have not forgotten how their ancestors made a living from harvesting bamboo. 

 

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4 Responses

Andy (Eco-Cha)
Andy (Eco-Cha)

May 10, 2015

Hi Jude,

The name of this type of bamboo Meng Zhong (孟宗筍), it is also referred to as “winter shoot”—as the nicest shoots are harvested in winter. I asked my friend whose father harvested these about the name and he related the following story.

Meng Zhong was a filial son. He heard his mother say that she wished she had some winter bamboo shoots, but outside it was cold and snowing. So he went to the temple and implored of the gods to give him some bamboo shoots. The next day he went out and found shoots emerging from the ground through a thin layer of snow. Since then the shoots harvested in winter are called by his name.

Jeremy O'Donnell
Jeremy O'Donnell

April 30, 2015

The definitive list: http://www.guaduabamboo.com/types/edible-bamboo-species

Jeremy O'Donnell
Jeremy O'Donnell

April 30, 2015

Most likely it is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bambusa_oldhamii …. or see : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamboo_shoot

jude johnsson
jude johnsson

April 17, 2015

Wow this is so cool. I am trying to establish bamboo groves on our place here in the Pacific Northwest, but our shoots aren’t NEARLY as substantial as these. Guess we have a few more years to go before we will be harvesting these kind of shoots. By the way, do you happen to know what variety of bamboo this is? Thank you so much for sharing.

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