Blue Tea

Owes its flavors to oxidation levels between green & black tea.

Blue Tea

Postby Herb_Master » Nov 25th, '08, 11:19

I have been reordering some of my tea research notes and paused for thought over the idea of oolong as a 'blue' tea.

The idea of what tea drinkers outside the orient call "Black" being classified as 'red' I am happy with.

'white', 'yellow' and 'green' I am totally in Sympathy with!

Pu-erh as 'black - I will come across when I move on from oolong. I hope my 'Pu-erh' cakes don't fade too badly while I am going through my Oolong stocks.

But oolong as 'blue' :roll:

I appreciate that it is (or rather was) a comparitive assessment alongside 'greens' and 'reds' and may have been 'greenish blue' or 'reddish blue' or 'yellowish blue' but in modern day oolongs that I have encountered I can't (even by stretching my imagination) conjure up any faint suggestion of "blue".

My :-
light oxidised and light roasted Anxis are yellowish if anything
lighter Taiwans are greenish if anything
heavier roasted Guangdongs and Min beis are often brownish occasionally reddish

I have come across 'amber', 'honey', 'tan', 'peach', 'orange', 'terracotta', 'oak', 'chestnut', and various browns - But none of them suggest blue :shock:

Has anyone detected any 'blue-ish' tinges in the oolongs they have brewed :?:

better still has anyone got any photos that I could use :?:

Or have perhaps modern production methods moved oolong away from their predecessors that showed BLUE :!:

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Re: Blue Tea

Postby wyardley » Nov 25th, '08, 13:46

Herb_Master wrote:I have been reordering some of my tea research notes and paused for thought over the idea of oolong as a 'blue' tea.

Pu-erh as 'black - I will come across when I move on from oolong. I hope my 'Pu-erh' cakes don't fade too badly while I am going through my Oolong stocks.


We've been having a discussion recently about what exactly black (hēi) tea is, and how commonly the term is used.
http://teadrunk.org/viewtopic.php?id=26
The consensus so far:
1) A lot of native speakers say that "hēi chá" doesn't "sound good", and say that it's not a commonly used term.
2) Some people argue that it only refers to a certain set of teas which may or may not include some or all pǔ'ěrs. In general, there seems to be some agreement that young shēng is probably not considered black tea.

But oolong as 'blue' :roll:

I appreciate that it is (or rather was) a comparitive assessment alongside 'greens' and 'reds' and may have been 'greenish blue' or 'reddish blue' or 'yellowish blue' but in modern day oolongs that I have encountered I can't (even by stretching my imagination) conjure up any faint suggestion of "blue".


I don't think blue or blue-green is the only possible meaning of that word (青茶, qīng chá in hanyu pinyin). Maybe someone with a better knowledge of history / culture can say better, but my understanding is that that meaning of qīng by itself typically refers to anything that's kind of blue-green or green-blue.

Qīng can also mean black or grey, and that may be a more traditional meaning of the word - for example, 丹青 (dān qīng) refers to a style of old Chinese paintings with red and black ink, where dān is a cinnabar type red, and qīng refers to black.

The term / genre of tea has been around for a long time, so the meaning of the character may not have been exactly the same as it is now. Wūlóng, especially traditional roast ones can definitely be black in appearance, with green on the inside greenish. There may have been some poetic license taken, or it may have had a slightly different meaning in the old days.

http://www.nciku.com/search/zh/detail/%E9%9D%92/1312119

I know that when the term is translated into English, people usually say "semi-green" - that's the main English term besides "oolong" I've seen used to describe this sort of tea. I don't think "blue tea" is a good translation of the word we're talking about.

I know Robert found some stuff about qīng chá in his research on hēi chá (see link above), so if he finds more out about the historical background of this, I'll post a follow-up.

I think the terms (qīing chá / wūlóng) are usually used synonymously in actual practice, but my understanding is that qing cha is a top level category analogous to 'lu cha', 'hong cha', etc., and that wūlóng is the primary or only member of this category.

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Postby xuancheng » Nov 26th, '08, 20:32

wyardley is exactly right in his analysis of colour words. I would like to give a couple more examples. 青 qing is one of the five colours: 黑白青赤黄. All colours in the world were supposed to fall under the category of one of these five. Also as wyardley said qing can just mean dark. I think its quite likely that in the areas where oolong developed, they may also have had other teas, and oolong was somehow darker than the other ones.

Another question which should not be discounted is that of language. The tea farmers never spoke guanhua, or Mandarin Chinese. The people who grow oolongs mostly all speak some form of Fujian dialect. Some of them are not even Han Chinese at all, but minority ethnicities. I have read from several questionable sources that the She people were the originator of Oolong tea. Unfortunately I don't know how old the term is, or where exactly it comes from. But we can't be sure that opening a dictionary today will give us a clear explanation of what the people who came up with the name were thinking.

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Postby chrl42 » Nov 26th, '08, 21:04

xuancheng wrote:I have read from several questionable sources that the She people were the originator of Oolong tea.


Xuancheng, if you don't mind, what is Chinese letter of She?

So I can google it and pay my very respect.

I mean, for giving us this wonderful and delicious work of art :)

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Postby wyardley » Nov 26th, '08, 22:26

chrl42 wrote:
xuancheng wrote:I have read from several questionable sources that the She people were the originator of Oolong tea.


Xuancheng, if you don't mind, what is Chinese letter of She?

So I can google it and pay my very respect.


They're one of the officially recognized ethnic minorities.
畲族 (Shē Zú)
(via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_et ... s_in_China)

http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/ljzg/3584/t17914.htm
http://www1.chinaculture.org/library/20 ... _29239.htm

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Postby chrl42 » Nov 26th, '08, 23:09

wyardley wrote:
chrl42 wrote:
xuancheng wrote:I have read from several questionable sources that the She people were the originator of Oolong tea.


Xuancheng, if you don't mind, what is Chinese letter of She?

So I can google it and pay my very respect.


They're one of the officially recognized ethnic minorities.
畲族 (Shē Zú)
(via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_et ... s_in_China)

http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/ljzg/3584/t17914.htm
http://www1.chinaculture.org/library/20 ... _29239.htm


Image
Thanks a bunch. So they originally came from Fenghuang mountain of Guangdong.

Could they invent Fenghuang Dancong as well? :o
Anyway it's nice to know another contributor to tea industry

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Postby xuancheng » Nov 26th, '08, 23:39

chrl42 wrote:Could they invent Fenghuang Dancong as well? :o
Anyway it's nice to know another contributor to tea industry


I have read that they invented Fenghuang dancong. One book I read said that they Invented all oolong. A person I talked to in Wuyi said that dancong trees (and anxi oolong trees) all originally came from wuyi, and cited 崇安县志 as her source.

I believe it is possible that She people are responsible for Oolong. There is a 景宁畲族自治县(She people autonomous county) in southwestern Zhejiang, just across the border from Fujian pretty near wuyi.

I haven't done much research myself on this topic yet, but it is one of my research goals. If anyone has more information on this subject I'd love to hear it!

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Postby Salsero » Nov 27th, '08, 00:24

What a great thread this has turned into. Thanks to all our tea, culture, and language gurus for sharing all this with us.

The idea that one minority may be responsible for the invention of oolong is just mind-boggling!

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