The Chinese like nothing cold; they warm all their food, even their wine. For they have wine, not made of grapes, but of rice, and they drink it, not in glasses, but in cups. Tea, however, is the most common drink; for China is the country where tea grows.
The hills are covered with shrubs bearing a white flower, a little like a white rose. They are tea-plants. The leaves are picked; each leaf is rolled up with the finger, and dried on a hot iron plate.
The Chinese do not keep all the tea-leaves; they pack up a great many in boxes, and send them to distant lands. In England and in Russia there is a tea-kettle in every cottage. Some of the Chinese are so very poor that they cannot buy new tea-leaves, but only tea-leaves which ire sold in shops. I do not think in England poor people would buy old tea-leaves. Some very poor Chinese use fern-leaves instead of tea-leaves.
The Chinese do not make tea in the same way that we do. They have no teapot, or milk-jug, or sugar-basin. They put a few tea-leaves in a cup, pour hot water on them, and then put a cover on the cup till the tea is ready. Whenever you pay a visit in China a cup of tea is offered.
APPEARANCE.—The Chinese are not at all like the other natives of Asia. The Turks and Arabs are fine-looking men, but the Chinese are poor-looking creatures. You have seen their pictures on their boxes of tea, for they are fond of drawing pictures of themselves.
Their complexion is rather yellow, but many of the ladies, who keep in doors, are rather fair. They have black hair, small dark eyes, broad faces, flat noses, and high cheek-bones. In general they are short. The men like to be stout; and the rich men are stout: the fatter they are, the more they are admired: but the women like to be slender.
A Chinaman does not take off his cap in company, and he has a good reason for it: his head is close shaven: only a long piece behind is allowed to grow, and this grows down to his heels, and is plaited. He wears a long dark blue gown, with loose hanging sleeves. His shoes are clumsy, turned up at the toes in an ugly manner, and the soles are white. The Chinese have more trouble in whitening their shoes than we have in blacking ours.
A Chinese lady wears a loose gown like a Chinaman’s; but she may be known by her head-dress, her baby feet, and her long nails. Her hair is tied up, and decked with artificial flowers; and sometimes a little golden bird, sparkling with jewels, adorns her forehead. Her feet are no bigger than those of a child of five years old; because, when she was five, they were cruelly bound up to prevent them from growing. She suffered much pain all her childhood, and now she trips about as if she were walking on tiptoes. A little push would throw her down. As she walks she moves from side to side like a ship in the water, for she cannot walk firmly with such small feet. The Chinese are so foolish as to admire these small feet, and to call them the “golden lilies”. As for her finger-nails, they are seldom seen, for a Chinese lady hides her hands in her long sleeves; but the nails on the left hand are very long, and are like bird’s claws. The nails on the right hand are not so long, in order that the lady may be able to tinkle on her music, to embroider, and to weave silk.