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.

Continue reading ‘中国茶经: 六安瓜片 Lù’ān Guāpiàn’

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