Tuesday, July 1, 2014

More Tea, Please

Tea Plantation
This wonderful drink we refer to as tea is so much more, it is not just the cultivation of a plant but is the cultivation of a culture.

Today we traveled to Boseong province to learn more about the production of tea in Korea.  In this beautiful mountainous province we visited Da Hyang High School.  This school is a small rural high school which contains two programs the auto mechanics with approximately 115 students and the tea school which is comprised of 75 students.  

This school was originally an agriculture high school until enrollment fell to low.  When they decided to specialize in auto mechanics and tea production and processing enrollment went back up.  The students in the tea school are responsible for the production and processing of the tea. They had an expansive mechanized tea processing facility however they demonstrated the technique of hand made tea, very tedious. 

Their finished product is sold to the local community, sounds a lot like back home.  When we have student based agricultural experiences that create a product it is sold to financially support the program.  This school just took it to another level.  They were providing for their community by developing future employees for the local tea industry.

The local tea industry includes the largest tea plantation in Korea.  This plantation contained 1650 hectares of cultivated tea.  The plantation employees 1200 people and is the largest of the 200 tea plantations in the area. The tea produced is classified organic by Europe, Japan and the USA.  The highest quality tea is picked in the spring by hand and is classified green tea.  This plantation's mark of excellence is known throughout the country for its, safety, taste and overall quality thus it receives a higher price than other plantation's tea.  Tea, just like our quality agriculture education programs we make our mark with our students and they in turn become beacons of excellence, something everyone  can recognize.  

The finished product is great tea.  The tea plant is a member of the Camilla family and all tea is green tea, the other types such as red and black are just processed in a different manner.  The Korean  tea ceremony honors all of the hard work conducted to get the final product to the pot.  The tea is to be savored and enjoyed so the five flavor scan be enjoyed, bitterness, sweetness, sourness, astringency and saltiness.  Just as many times educators find ourselves enjoying the hard work and devotion of our profession throughout the various senses.  We know that students need to learn through various techniques to become their own.  And finally the tea is to evoke a special time of reflection.  Time when as an agriculture teacher I know that my students were impacted by the lesson, that their person was cultivated and that they as a student were made better, just like the tea.

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