Visit of a tea plantation in Guilin

The last stop of my journey; Guilin. It is a large Chinese city, like an organized bazaar, with its dense population and frenetic circulation. The shops compete on the strength of their soundtrack, all mixed with the incessant honking and you’re in the heart of a huge mess. After Yangshuo, the contrast is striking.

The osmanthus meanwhile is always the actor of the landscape, here again it borders the streets and sidewalks. Lost in the city, the small trees mix with concrete buildings and the smell of exhaust fumes. I came to Guilin full of hope, the rain was more abundant at the north, but unfortunately the osmanthus flowers hadn’t bloomed here yet either…

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In search of the osmanthus flower in Yangshuo, Part II

The next day we head to the west of Yangshuo, in the heart of fields and rice paddies. On the way, I stopped at a tea merchant. A small shop with typical gait, pots of all shapes and all sizes adorn the wooden shelves. I am looking at large labels scrawled with Chinese characters, I try unsuccessfully to decipher the precious contents of those boxes stacked by hundreds. And there, in large clear jars laid on the ground, lost between jasmine tea and oolong tea, I see the osmanthus flowers. I have hardly removed the large cork when I am seized by an enveloping scent. The flowers, even dried, have lost none of their fruity apricot smell. The smell is actually quite harsh and makes you easily return to the morning of your childhood where you revel in large slices topped with apricot jam (dear Proustian effect!).

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In search of the osmanthus flower in Yangshuo, Part I

For centuries poets, painters and all aesthetes considered Guilin and its surroundings, in the Guangxi province, as a model of perfection. The harmony of its landscape, made up of thousands of small mountains, always amazed visitors from around the world.

Meaning literally ‘osmanthus forest’, Guilin takes its name from a small tree with fragrant flowers that grows abundantly between the river and the hills. This small flower, well-known amongst perfumers, exudes an exquisite scent of peach-apricot and freesia. The osmanthus is one of the ten most popular flowers in China. The flower is the traditional symbol of love and romance, while the tree itself is a symbol of peace and fertility. There are two main varieties of osmanthus, one with silver white color flowers (ying-kwei), and another with more fragrant golden yellow flowers (chin-kwei), which has a sweet, fruity and floral scent.

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