On a balmy May afternoon the Chinese Heritage Foundation Friends presented Will Waddington of TeaSource in an informative talk titled, All the Tea in China. In a high-spirited, freewheeling interactive session with an engaged audience, Bill talked about the native origin of tea in China and its many variations and different individual practices in different regions of China. He dwelled on the six major types of tea: black, red, Oolong, green yellow and white, the ages of the tea leaves and the different stages of oxidation (or none) that they are allowed to go through, the effects of soil types, humidity and elevation on tea bushes, and the care one should take on keeping the ideal temperature of water or steeping time for each type of tea. He also brewed both an Oolong and a Purer tea for everyone to taste, demonstrating the differences the brewing time makes on the same type of tea. Everyone found the information most helpful, and the tasting, when accompanied by the special condiments personally selected by Yin Simpson, most enlightening.
There was also much laughter, particularly when Bill debunked myths, such as the specialness of leaves picked only by monkeys in inaccessible areas, and substituted astute and accurate observations instead. In cultivating special relationships with small individual growers in different regions of China and maintaining contact through many years, Bill has been able to offer high quality tea leaves that have received careful handling throughout the growing and tea making processes.
Soon the two-hour session ended, leaving many audience members with more questions and much eagerness to pay more attention to tea from now on, particularly in steeping loose tea leaves rather than relying on tea bags.