STiR Tea & Coffee Industry International

Volume 3, Number 3

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STiR tea & coffee industry international 49 ittle is understood in the Western tea indus- try when it comes to the Romanization of tea terms. This to me is troubling because confused tea vendors result in confused tea con- sumers. Romanization refers to the transliteration of any writing system to the Roman alphabet. To understand Romanization, it is important to un- derstand the difference between transliteration and translation. Transliteration tells us how to say the other language's word in our own language. Trans- lation gives us a word in our own language that means the same thing as the other language's word. Most words floating around the tea industry today were Romanized one of three ways: • They were properly Romanized via a standard Romanization system • They were Romanized using an older Roman- ization system • They were haphazardly transliterated by trad- ers before Romanization systems were in place, often from local dialects In China, Hanyu Pinyin became the interna- tional standard for Romanization of Modern Stan- dard Chinese in 1982. Prior to 1982, Wade-Giles was the primary method of Romanization. Even though Hanyu Pinyin is the de facto standard, there are still many terms that were haphazardly transliterated from local dialects or Romanized via the Wade-Giles system still in use today. A lot of the variance in spelling we see in the tea world can be attributed to the mixed usage of the Hanyu Pinyin and Wade-Giles. Here are some of the common words where we still see a lot of Wade-Giles usage: Even more confusion arises with the usage of haphazardly transliterated Chinese tea terms, some as common as the word oolong which in Hanyu Pinyin is wu long. Transliterations such as this are unlikely to go away. Here are some of the common haphazardly transliterated words that are still prevalent today: So what do you do? If you follow Hanyu Pinyin, how will you be able to attract customers when you are selling bi luo chun and everyone else is selling pilochun? My advice to you is to use Pinyin for the tea's primary name and explain the other spellings in the tea's description. At times, a haphazard transliteration may be many more times popular than the proper Pinyin, as is the case with oolong/wulong. For this case, you may want to make an exception – and it really depends on your customers. If your customers are hardcore tea enthusiasts, stick with Pinyin and call it wulong. If you cater to tea newbies, I would stick with the most popular Romanization, oolong. You may not know a lick of Chinese, but that's okay, you can still practice correct Romanization. To produce a Hanyu Pinyin transliteration, you just need to find the Chinese characters for the word you wish to Romanize. Select and copy the Chinese characters to your computer's clipboard. You can now paste the characters into one of many tools around the web that aid in Romanization. Two of my favor- ites are Purple Culture's Pinyin Converter ( and BabelCarp ( Happy Romanizing! L By Tony Gebely Hanyu Pinyin Preferred Hanyu Pinyin Wade-Giles long jing lung-ching tie guan yin tie-kuan-yin puer pu-erh bi luo chun pi-lo-chun Haphazard Transliteration Hanyu Pinyin souchong xiao zhong lapsang souchong zheng shan xiao zhong keemun qi men oolong wu long bohea wuyi pouchong bao zhong

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