Archive for August, 2013

中国茶经: 六安瓜片 Lù’ān Guāpiàn

Part of a series of original translations made of articles from 中国茶经, or “The Chinese Tea Bible,” edited by 陈宗懋, 1992.

It was fresh when I started this article....

It was fresh when I started this article….

How to translate 瓜片 (guāpiàn)?  This tea is named after a melon seed, but 瓜片 doesn’t quite mean “melon seed.” It’s a contraction from the original, 瓜子片.  瓜子 is “melon seed.”  片 meanwhile, means “a thin piece.”  It’s a frequently used classifier to refer to a “slice” of something: food, a tract of land or expanse of water, a scene in a movie–a CD box set might contain 4 片.  So this has led some tea drinkers to believe 瓜片 refers to a “slice of melon,” which may in fact be a second accurate sense of 瓜片.  But I don’t want to obscure the primary reference to seeds, so I’m splitting the difference and translating 片 as “flake.”  I think “chip” would actually be better: some etymologies of 片 indicate it’s the right half of 木, the character for “tree/wood.”  And melon slices in some Chinese dishes look more like “chipped beef” than the wedges we call to mind.  But “melon chip” sounds like an ice cream flavor.

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