Holding a hot bowl of oil tea with two hands, taking three sips, after slowly feeling the aftertaste, Meng Qi, from Germany, told her friends around her surprisingly: “Isn’t this coffee from Gongcheng?”
On March 7th, the third Guilin Gongcheng Oil Tea Cultural Festival was held in Yao Autonomous County, Gongcheng, Guilin, attracted many guests from local and abroad.
On Binjiang Road, large and small tea stalls almost completely surrounded by tourists. Tourists immediately share all the oil tea, once the large pot of oil tea reached the table.
Adding some green onions, salt, and local specialties puffed rice, Meng Qi and her dozen foreign friends slowly enjoy the oil tea in a local way. “I have never drunk this in Germany. Although the taste is a little bit weird at the beginning, it tastes really good.” Meng Qi calls the oil tea as “Gongcheng Coffee”. In her opinions, locals drink oil tea every day, similar to the western hobbies of drinking coffee every day.
Besides oil tea, try some local specialty food. When sees a girl wearing national costume of Yao prepare to make oil tea, Meng Qi cannot help but ask for guidance. While she is pounding the leaves, she asks her friends to take the photo for her.
Oil tea is first originated in 700 BC, later imported to Gongcheng area by Yao immigrants. Because of the variability of local climate, and oil tea has effects of preventing coldness and dampness, refreshing, and prolonging life, therefore, the custom of drinking oil tea is kept.
Locals called the process of making oil tea as “Hitting oil tea”. You put soaked tea, ginger, peanuts and other raw materials into a small iron pan, which contains oil. You pound them repeatedly with “Tea hammer” in the shape of “7”. Once you smell fragrance coming off it, you add boiling water.
Yao girl Qiu Ping told the reporter, in Gongcheng, both men and women, young and old are good at pounding oil tea. “Drinking oil tea is a tradition that has passed on to generations of Yao. The technique of making oil tea, you know how to do it without learning because you grew up watching family members doing it.
Fried crispy rice, grapefruit cake, belly cake, croissants rice dumplings with a cup of oil tea, which makes Jiang Jian-jun from Hunan cannot stop praising “Very good!” Originally, he was just passing by Gongcheng. But after he saw the oil tea party, he has changed idea. “I plan to stay here for one or two days to try some other Gongcheng food.”
Now in Gongcheng, oil tea is not only the delicious dish on the dinner table, but also, a business card to world to broadcast the culture of Yao. On the day of Oil Tea Festival, hospitable Yao people not only provided authentic Oil Tea Dinner Party, but also offered the special made bamboo wine. You see two young men carrying a 2-meter bamboo on the shoulder. In the middle, there is a small spout. It is quite an effort, if tourists want to taste the wine: you must lower your body, face upward, pour the wine into your mouth with the help of two strong men.
Zhu Ke-Liang, from Hubei, although he is unskilled with such “technique”, and the spilled wine has wetted his clothes, he did not mind it at all. “This is my first time drinking wine like this; it tastes sweet and fun.”
As an old town with thousand years’ history, Gongcheng has a deep cultural heritage. The treasure of Yao “Mei Mountain Picture”, is the most well preserved, deepest reflection of the history of Yao, and has the richest content of Yao’s culture. As the custom representatives of Yao, “Flutist tart inspired” and “Gongcheng Oil Tea” have been listed as intangible cultural heritage protection project by Guangxi Autonomous Region. By 2012, the total number of tourists has exceeded 1,000,000.