tea time!

green tea tasting session

Recently I have been very focused on the art (doodles) side of the blog and I haven’t had much to say about tea – for the same reason as I mentioned some time ago. That is, there are some serious tea connoisseurs out there writing very interesting and informative posts about tea with much more knowledge on the subject than I have. So once again for those interested, here are a few new (to me) tea blogs.
Sir William of the Leaf has a quietly serious approach and thoroughly describes the ins and outs of all kinds of tea.
Life in Teacup is more light-hearted but no less useful for the serious tea appreciator.
the_skua steeps is interesting since the author is a potter as well as tea lover. If you like to look at beautiful hand made tea things, you’ll see some here.

The photo above was a tea tasting session from a while ago. Lately I have gotten out of  the habit of photographing the process. I am still drinking tea though and learning more about it all the time.

Happy sipping!

one year old!

Green Tea Doodles' first birthday!

Wow, I can hardly believe that I started up this blog a year ago already. On the other hand, in many ways this year has seen quite a lot of change in my life – so in that way it has been a long year and not always easy. I am feeling self-congratulatory though – I have produced quite a lot of drawings during this time, made 127 posts and had 6,500 views!

I plan to have a very nice cup of tea today to celebrate! If I can’t find anything suitable in the cupboard, I may just use this as my excuse to buy some good puerh tea… or else that (very) high mountain wulong from Taiwan that was so delicious at the tea tasting session… decisions, decisions…

image (cc) 2010 Hilary Farmer

Bodhidharma…

Damo meditates with a cup a tea
DaMo meditates with a cup a tea

Bodhidharma, also known as DaMo in Chinese, is famous for many things. Born in India around the year 440, he converted to Buddhism and traveled to China where he is credited with introducing Zen Buddhism (called Chan in Chinese). According to tradition, he spent much time at the Shaolin Temple establishing the famed martial arts practiced there and also managing to meditate in a cave for 9 years.

During his years of meditation, he fell asleep (once!) and in his determination to keep it from happening again, he cut off his eyelids. Where his eyelids fell, the first tea plants sprang up to help him (and all the rest of us lesser mortals) stay awake while enjoying the pleasures of tea at the same time. (Well, the pleasure part isn’t mentioned in the histories.) This explains why representations of Bodhidharma always show him with bulging, lidless eyes.

Other ways of telling that a painting you’re looking at is of DaMo is that he is either crossing a river on a hollow reed (how he was said to have crossed the Yangtze), sitting in meditation in a cave and usually facing a wall, or often, with one shoe on a stick over his shoulder. The story goes that some time after DaMo’s death, an official said that he had met him in the mountains heading back west and saying that he was returning to India. He was carrying a staff on which hung a single sandal. The monks back at the temple got curious and decided to open up the tomb. They found just one sandal inside.

Much of this content is common lore regarding DaMo/Bodhidharma but a lot of information can be found in the preface to The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma translated by Red Pine.

image (cc) 2009 Hilary Farmer