Today’s tea is extremely unique for several reasons. GreenWander is a single estate, organically grown, Chinese style green tea that is grown, harvested, and processed in Perthshire, Scotland.
Yes, you read that correctly. Scottish tea. And it’s delicious.
With a terroir similar to many tea gardens found in China, a historically agrarian culture, and a love for strong brews, it is no surprise to find a budding tea industry in Scotland. For the last several years there has been a push for Scottish grown teas with several gardens popping up in the Highlands. While some of them still have operations small enough to need to blend their Camellia Sinensis leaves with teas grown in other countries, Windy Hollow makes single estate teas and tisanes.
What makes Windy Hollow stand out from the other tea gardens in Scotland – and, honestly, globally – is how every aspect of the tea has a heavy emphasis on being natural in every sense of the word. Being certified organic with the BiodynamicAssociation UK is only the tip of the iceberg. Monica, owner of Windy Hollow, only uses natural resources found in local environment (such a peat) to tend the plants. As a result, you’ll see a variety of extremely creative techniques used to care for the plants. These techniques add a value that your taste buds will appreciate.
GreenWander’s leaves are beautiful deep forest green twists, almost black, with a few lighter brown, almost tan colored, veins running through them. They smell like a charred root vegetable paired with the sweetness of a honey roasted carrot. The look and feel of the leaves reminds me very much of an oolong.
Green Wander can be steeped multiple times. The first round should be steeped for one minute at 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit) with succession steepings for two minutes, also at 80 (176) degrees.
When steeped the leaves unfurl to a brilliant green and release an aroma of green beans with a hint of wilted spinach as they cool.
The liquor is pale yellow, extremely smooth with no astringency, and has a flavor that is like lemongrass with a hint of green beans and snow peas. On the finish it has a soft floral characteristic that I can’t quite identify.
What I find most intriguing about this tea is that it is processed in the Chinese fashion, and yet it has a freshness that is akin to a high quality Japanese Sencha. Additionally, it has a natural sweetness that I’ve found only in white teas.
In all honesty, this has been one of the toughest posts to write because this tea conjures up so many thoughts for me. I’ve started this post what felt to be a hundred times because everything I wrote seemed to pale in comparison to the subtle complexities of GreenWander. All the while, two thoughts competed for the place as the “Contemplative Thought”.
The first is of friendship. Though we number in the thousands and are spread across the globe, the speciality tea community helps make the world feel smaller. Since my discovery of WindyHollow a couple of years past, I’ve had the pleasure of watching from “across the pond” as Monica tirelessly worked the land in Perthshire and consider it a grand pleasure to call her friend. She has shared with me her wisdom, love of tea, and passion for natural tea farming.
I’ve always said that tea levels the playing field. It brings people together and helps us see how similar we are and not focus on our differences. As each tea is appreciated for its uniqueness, so too are we able to appreciate others for their unique gifts and talents.
My friendship with Monica shows just that. We are two people from different countries and yet the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis have brought us together and created a unique bond.
The second thought is natural farming. We have a unique relationship with the earth; one that is getting lost as more pavement is cemented to the soil beneath our feet. I will not not argue against the fact that modern civilization has brought about many benefits (indoor plumbing and central heating and air are my personal favorites). But everything comes at a price and I fear that the price that we paid was the connection we have with the earth.
I’ll be the first to admit that the view I hold is unique in that it has been influenced by Scripture and the beliefs of Native American and eastern religions. I believe that I am a small part of the Earth as a whole, not the world itself. And I also believe that since I am able to speak and stand up for those who cannot – regardless of species or kind – I ought to do so. But I also realize that I am just one person and cannot change the world on my own. But what actions I do take have a direct impact on the immediate world around me.
I am often reminded of a JRR Tolkien quote from The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King:
The world has changed.
I see it in the water.
I feel it in the Earth.
I smell it in the air.
Much that once was is lost,
For none now live who remember it.
That sums up how I feel about our planet. So much has changed. I often feel that my connection with the Earth is hindered; that extra effort is needed to reconnect and become grounded. The beauty, tranquility, and balance that we once had is gone and those who had known it are also gone.
But that doesn’t mean we cannot have it again.
In time, when we each practice a natural approach to our gardens, be them hundreds of acres or a small windowsill, our collective actions become something of great value. Because when we each take responsibility for our own actions, little adds up to much.