Green Boar Organic Tea pioneers the Chinese Art of Tea aka “GONG FU CHA”

One of the most interesting stalls at the recent ‘IFE’ Exhibition on 15th – 18th March and also at the Natural & Organic Product Show in Olympia on 5th & 6th of April was a display of several novel appurtenances that are necessary in making and drinking that perfect cup of tea …. in China! These, I was assured by Henry Virgin, mounter of the exhibit, and once a teacher in China and poet, were the components of a Chinese Art, ‘Gong Fu’, a traditional pursuit still much in vogue today, that’s to say tea-making, as necessary for the teeming millions in cities as in the quiet rural villages.

Henry’s London based company, Green Boar specialises in importing and selling organic and fairtrade tea and teaware from China, but also deals in many other organic, loose leaf varieties from India, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and Korea. He uses the Fairtrade mark on his products, which ensures the producers benefit from the Fairtrade Premium with which they’ll improve their communities (and, of course, our tea). Just at the time of the fairs was the ‘Qing Ming’ festival when the ancestor’s graves are tended, Qing Ming means ‘clear and bright’) and the picking of the tea starts. All this is lovingly related by Henry who provides details of the vast Chinese literature about tea – works such as: ‘Desultory Remarks on Furnishing the Abode of a Retired Scholar”, or LuYu’s ‘The Classic of Tea’.

In practical terms, what you get from Green Boar is a well-sourced variety that’s only on offer currently at few locations such as Partridges SW3, but very much online (, delivered first class by mail in serviceable quantities brightly packaged. The new range currently being launched is packed in the most beautiful bamboo caddies, unseen elsewhere in UK. Green Boar has the fabled white teas that are picked on only two days of each year, several green teas like organic Long Jing “Dragon Well’ (offered as tribute to Emperors) from Zhejiang, a prize winning Organic Green Oolong from Wuyishan, the famous ‘Da Hong Pao’ oolong and many more. This besides black teas and Pu-Erh tea cakes ‘beeng cha’ and mini ‘tuo cha’, Tissanes, Ginseng, Ginger, and a whole range of exotic teaware of the type that is required by Gong Fu – very different from the martial art Kung Fu (which is in fact a different transliterative spelling of the same word, meaning simply ‘Art Form’), but every bit as good for the soul; as a story told of Boddhidharma, legendary founder of Zen, illustrates (equally improbably as with most other stories that are told of him).

This Indian Prince, travelling to China to teach Buddhism, vowed to meditate for seven years without falling asleep. After five years he began to feel tired and, at his last gasp, chewed some leaves from a nearby tree, which just happened to be a tea-tree. Lo, and Behold! His strength was restored, and he sustained his vow without blinking an eyelid. Which just shows what might be possible for us, if we chose to consort with the Seven Worthies of the Bamboo Grove, those Light or Pure (Ch’ing-t’an) Conversationists who met to drink tea, write poems and behave without regard for social covention or any worldly values. More tea, World-Honoured One?
by Simon Seligmann

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