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

winter crow…

winter crow

I was walking on the mountain yesterday and noticed a crow perched on an improbably high branch which inspired this doodle. It was a lovely day – soft (for February) with a pale winter sun occasionally breaking through the clouds.

This morning we participated in a tea tasting – just of Taiwan wulongs! ten different ones… It was quite eye-opening. Although I already had a good idea that there is a huge range of flavours within this family of teas, it really was remarkable. The aged Wulongs had an especially strong range of flavours. While I often enjoy strong flavours, I found myself gravitating towards the greener, fresher-flavoured varieties. I won’t get into the details of which one seemed to me like over-ripe olives, which like burnt chocolate and which like flowers on a sunny day… There are real experts out there discussing tea and if you are interested in the world of Chinese tea, check out the links to the right. If particularly in Wulongs, here’s an interesting article on Taiwan Dong Ding Wulong. (Note: due to transliteration differences, Dong Ding = Tung Ting and Oolong = Wulong)

image (cc) 2010 Hilary Farmer

tea blogs…

basket fried green tea
basket fried green tea

You may have noticed that it has been quite a while since I posted any tea tasting or other tea comments. This has been in part because I am having so much fun with the drawing and in part because I have discovered quite a few excellent tea blogs which for quality of content and images are so outstanding as to put my slight offerings to shame…

Sooooo, if you, like me are really interested in tea, here are a few of these remarkable blogs which you might like to check out.

The Mandarin’s Tea is a beautiful and knowledgeable blog. Being focused on both the tea itself and the accoutrements makes for an attractive blend! (He also posts about cigars… not one of my interests! lol but the tea posts are great.)

A recent favourite of mine is a blog called Tea Obsession. It is written by a woman in L.A. who has a shop specializing in one particular kind of single-tree produced Oolong (Wulong). That’s quite a specialty!! She is passionately devoted to her tea and it shows in the writing.

Another beauty is The Half-Dipper. As I have been doing more reading on Puerh tea I now understand more of the references to various types of tea cakes and the factories where they are produced. Ah, yet another field on which one could spend a lifetime of study… which is why I’m recommending you to this great blog if you really want to learn some interesting things about tea and have your eyes pleased by wonderful images at the same time.

There’s even a live journal Puerh Tea Community for those very serious about Puerh tea. Following some of the comment strings is very enlightening – and makes it clear both how much there is to learn as well as how difficult it can be to get straight answers about Puerh!

And there are more! …but I think that will do for now. By-the-way, the above is a basket fried green tea ready for the water to be added. Don’t forget to let your water cool down after boiling to about 90 C in order to enjoy the best flavour for most green teas. These leaves have a particularly interesting flat appearance due to the special basket frying method of processing. The flavour was fresh but subtly smoky. I’m not sure that it will be one of my favourites despite the pleasant visual effect.

image and content (cc) 2009 Hilary Farmer

tea workshop…

a pleasant atmosphere
a pleasant atmosphere
a delicate green tea
a delicate green tea
Taiwan Wulong
Taiwan Wulong
Puerh Tea
Puerh Tea
all ten brews for comparison
all ten brews for comparison
all ten teas - brew and leaves
all ten teas - brew and leaves

Last weekend, I visited a local teashop to participate in their inaugural tea workshop. The atmosphere was relaxed and intimate with just 5 of us plus the proprietor/tea expert. We sipped our way through 10 teas starting with the most delicate white tea, Bai Hao Yin Zhen which had a subtly sweet overtone and turned out to be an all round favourite with most, on to 4 very different greens teas, to the Wulongs which I love, then to red teas and finishing with a warmly earthy and strong Puerh, Ker Yi Xing Shou Bing Cha. It was interesting that in the end I liked the most extreme ends of the scale best this time even though for day to day, I mostly drink green and wulong teas. Perhaps it’s time to make a change!

Definitely a very pleasant as well as informative way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday morning – highly recommended! In case you think this would be just for people very familiar with Chinese tea, we took a friend with us who is a tea neophyte and she enjoyed herself thoroughly as well.

Yushan wulong…

high mountain Taiwan wulong
high mountain Taiwan wulong

I had been waiting for the new spring tea crop to come for a couple of months and so it was a great pleasure recently to attend an event celebrating the arrival of the new spring teas at a local tea shop. There were several teas to be sampled and a demonstration of the tea ceremony for three types of tea as well – green, wulong and pu-erh. I found it all very interesting  and discovered anew how much I prefer cooked pu-erh to raw… the cooked type has a much smoother, richer sort of flavour while the raw is more astringent. There were a couple of spring wulongs from Taiwan (my favourite) to try and I took home some very high mountain Wulong from Yushan (Jade mountain) in Taiwan. Brewing it at home in my new teapot was a pleasure. It yields a subtle yet distinct flavour characteristic of Taiwan wulongs although perhaps not as fragrant as some of my very favourites. On drinking several tiny cups of this deliciousness, Max said solemnly, “I will never drink Lipton tea again.” lol

Update: June 3, I was just sent this link to an article about the above event with a quotation from yours truly.

tea of the day… lishan wulong

lishan wulong
lishan wulong

I decided since it’s green tea doodles, that as well as the doodles, I could talk a bit about tea again!

You’ll see this week’s tea – a recent favourite – in the picture. It is an Wulong (sometimes spelled Oolong) from Taiwan specifically from Lishan, hence the name. Wulongs are not technically green teas since they are lightly fermented just not as much as black teas. Did you know that “wulong” means black dragon? The tea leaves I have right now are from the autumn harvest since spring harvest isn’t available yet.

Here’s an interesting bit of tea trivia – the tea harvested in the autumn is said to be the most flavourful, while the tea harvested in the spring is the most fragrant. I think you need to be something of a connaisseur before this is really noticeable!

This particular Wulong is not one that has been aged but is fresh this year. I especially love that style since the flavour is delicate and, for want of a better word green – but not grassy. Lishan (Pear Mountain) is one of the mountains of Taiwan where tea for Wulongs are grown. Taiwan’s teas are renowned, as the best teas come from the highest altitudes and Taiwan has the highest tea orchards in the world.

I have brewed it in the typical Taiwan way in a very tiny teapot. Perhaps I talk more about the method another day!


image (cc) 2009 Hilary Farmer