Posts from the ‘oolong’ Category

What’s in a name: the origins and hidden agenda of the name ‘Oolong’?

I’ve had the privilege of tweeting and G+‘ing with Derek Chew.  Derek is the founder of Peony Tea S., is extremely knowledgeable about Chinese teas; shares some fabulous pictures of his tea and runs a retail tea company based in Singapore.  I felt extremely flattered that he asked to write a guest post and here is his post on the origins of the name oolong.  So, pop the kettle on, make a cup of tea, oolong is optional 🙂 and enjoy this fabulous ar-TEAcle.  Thanks for your con-TEA-bution Derek.

Ooh ooh oolong

What’s in a name: the origins and hidden agenda of the name ‘Oolong’?

The name Oolong or wulong if spelled in hanyu pinyin is literally translated as ‘black dragon’. With a name like that you can count on there being a story behind the tale. In fact there are quite a number but let us look at 2 of the more popular ones and the hidden agenda behind them.

The Farmer Who Chased After the Rabbit

This tale has a number of versions but the gist goes like this:

There was a farmer who was had picked some tea leaves and placed it in the basket slung across his bag. He was on his way home when he saw a rabbit in his path. Spotting dinner, he gave chase.

Past the trees, crossing bushes in a single leap and overcoming numerous obstacles before the farmer finally captured his prey. All these acrobatics accomplished with his trusty basket in tow.

That night, as he sat down to enjoy the spoils of his hunts, he brought out his tea leaves to wash down a sumptuous meal when he discovered the aroma from the brewed leaves were simply divine.

He returned the next day to the bush where he picked those leaves and gathered a few again but the fragrance was considerably lessened. After some time, he surmised that it must have been related to the shaking and vibration in the basket while he was pursuing the rabbit.

The farmer experimented with shaking and tumbling the leaves until he finally came up with a finished product that captivated the people around him and the rest was history.

The farmer’s name was Hu Liang which sounded like Oh Leong or Black Dragon in the local Anxi dialect and eventually that name stuck.

The Dragon Tribute Tea

Another tale is more rooted in history than mythology. In the Tang and Song dynasties, the tribute teas of the day were produced in compressed ‘cake’ forms- not unlike the Pu-er bing of today- known as Long Feng Tuan or Dragon and Phoenix Bundle.

Wuyi Mountain was one of the foremost producers of Long Feng Tuan and the farmers thrived for generations. In 1391, their worlds came crashing to an end. The founder of the Ming Dynasty Emperor Hong Wu (or Zhu Yuan Zhang) came from a peasant background and empathized with the labor of the farmers. He abolished the Long Feng Tuan as he felt it was purely ornamental and was unnecessary work for the farmers. The producers of Wuyi Mountain were unable to cope with these changes and fell off the map.

Fast forward a couple of centuries, the Wuyi farmers experimented with the Songlo high-fired baking methods and eventually came up with a new type of tea. In remembrance of their earlier incarnation and the appearance of the new tea leaves, it was named Black Dragon or Oolong Tea.

The Hidden Agenda

Besides the element of mystique and drama, there was a hidden agenda- to establish either Wuyi Mountain or Minnan as the original birth place of oolong tea.

In China, there is an emphasis on being the originator as evidenced by a slogan that remains common today- “正宗原味” or “true ancestry, original taste”. If you go to Taiwan or China, these 4 words appear in numerous eateries as it is a common belief that the originator is the best.

These tales had an element unique to their place of origin and having a story not only created human interest but lent credence to the argument of them being the birthplace of oolong tea since it fit in with the history and culture of the place.

So when you hear a fancy story about some tea, remember there may be a hidden agenda behind it.


Author Bio:
Derek Chew has never met a well-made oolong tea he didn’t adore.

Derek owns and operates Peony Tea S.- an online tea shop selling oolong tea, green tea and other categories of tea from China and Taiwan


Book Review – “Distinguished Leaves — Poems for Tea Lovers”

During my speaking engagements I often mention my mission statement (to bring back the teapot and to encourage people to take time with tea) and what better way to uphold my mission statement than to relax with a book of tea poetry (or as the author beau-tea-fully puts in ‘Poetea’).

Enjoying Dong Ding Oolong whilst reading Distinguished Leaves – Poems for Tea Lovers

I “met” Elizabeth Darcy Jones through the wonderful world of Twitter and after several tweetersations, emails and a couple of handwritten letters (I do enjoy putting pen to paper now and again), I waited eagerly for Mr Postie to deliver Distinguished Leaves — Poems for Tea Lovers.

It is such a special book as not only is the foreword by a very distinguished actor (recently seen in the hugely popular Downton Abbey), but there are notable mentions of tea artisans whom I have had the pleasure of meeting or tweeting with.

Read the rest of the article here…

Favourite Tearooms in Australia Part IV

Carrying on my tearoom theme, I want to draw attention to another tearoom that I had the pleasure of visiting in Adelaide.  Tbar is a wonderful tea salon which, according to their website serves loose leaf tea with reverse osmosis water.  As I walked into the salon, I was faced with a wonderful array of loose lea tea, with enough variety to satisfy all types of tea drinkers.  After looking through the impressive display, I decided to take a seat and look at the tea menu.  It’s a beautifully presented menu with no shortage of tea puns as the reader is faced with teas such as diversi-t, visibili-t, prosperi-t.  Tea puns never fail to make me smile 🙂

T Bar – Shui Xian Oolong tea in the cup

Read the rest of the article here…

My Reacquaintance with Flavoured Teas

I am amazed at where my tea journey takes me and several weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to trip to Adelaide and meet with like-minded tea folk. My tea journey stopped at a cross roads where I was invited to choose between flavoured teas or loose leaf tea with no flowers/herbs added. I’ve often tried flavoured teas and felt the experience equated to drinking out of my perfume bottle and so I tend to steer away from flavoured teas. However on this occasion, one flavoured tea jumped out from the tea menu: Peppermint oolong.

Peppermint Oolong

Read the rest of the article here…