Category Archives: Passion for Tea

When do you call yourself an artist?

A creative streak comes naturally to me. It shows itself in my home decorating, in my bright colored and stylish clothing, shoes and purses, and all the creative avenues that I’ve partaken in – such as sewing, crocheting knitting macramé, embroidery, cross stitching, cooking and cookbook writing, video blogging and for a very long time, about a lifetime ago, Dollhouseminiatures. During that period of creating I won many ribbons for my miniature projects, mostly from scratch.  

Does being creative give you the right to call yourself an artist? Suddenly I have that question in my mind.

Are you a creative, do you call yourself an artist?

Over the past 3 1/2 years, I turn the corner on my creativity. I can give credit to Jennifer. It all started when my daughter fell in love with the art of Romero Brito. Spontaneously, I took out my markers (because as a teacher with experience in primary school education, you always have markers. Teaching students a language requires the use of the philosophy that using art to draw concepts cements the vocabulary). I put together a drawing, trying to emulate his work. One month later, after returning from Sri Lanka, the vision of the palm trees on the beaches of the Indian Ocean were still in my brain. So one day without forethought, I sketched a palm tree. It was lame as it was, but it started the whole ball rolling.

A few months later I went to Italy. As a lone female traveler, I decided to go the safe route and take a six-day workshop with an artist in the north of Tuscany. When a friend Peter saw my Italy sketches, he beamed, asking me if I would draw sketches of the tea making process for his book about Tea in China. Was the Pope Catholic, I thought? I jumped at the opportunity. It gave me a focus for my art because at that point when I was flitting around with Zentangle Art and Mandalas and other topics with no real focus. 

Pizza Oven In Italy sketch

Pizza Oven In Italy sketch

One of the 25 sketches of the tea making process in China

One of the 25 sketches of the tea making process in China

Peter designed my first Chinese Chop with the characters that said “LiZhi (my name Lichee in Chinese), Artist”.

Could I call myself an artist then? Well honestly no, I couldn’t, although I continue to use the stamp to this day. 

My Chinese Chop

My Chinese Chop

Knowing that I didn’t have enough knowledge and experience about watercolor painting, I attended a weekly Kunming art studio for over a year and got a good grip on how to paint realistic art with watercolors. Learning to see the colors, color mixing, shading, shadows, I tried to learn everything. The owner of the studio offered to do a 2-day art exhibition of all of my paintings and sketches (35 in total) — and it was a huge success. Around that time a friend bought one of my favourite Chinese paintings also. 

Could I call myself an artist after that? Crazy as it sounds, no, I knew I still had a lot to learn.

Getting back to teacher art and markers, my proclivity is to small, meticulous details with paper and fine liners and pencils and markers and ink and erasers and rulers in drawings (maybe I should have been an architect, and I do love perspective, which I’m not terribly good at until now). But I still wanted to continue to stretch my skill, watching YouTube and Craftsy videos of artists teaching painting or sketching techniques. Also attending sketching workshops in Florida helped to improve my experience. (Do you see the theme here of travel and art in my life??)

Bradenton, Florida workshop 2-page spread

Bradenton, Florida workshop 2-page spread

Quite recently I developed an interest in having a more loose style. I spent the morning painting with an artist named Dan Whalen, who goes out with the Toronto Urban Sketchers group, because I really like his freer style of sketching and painting. I knew that if I wanted to try to go out sketching on location again, I would have to have that kind of style too. Why, because you don’t have enough time to finish when you’re out, so you need to be quick, and expressive in your sketching, representing the scene in front of you, all before the rain comes or the sun gets too hot or the shadows move.

Just two weeks ago, I met a lovely Singaporean artist, Beng Choo. She is an experienced artist and we have started the Urban Sketchers Kunming group in Kunming China. We meet every Friday morning and have sketched some wonderful ancient Chinese buildings while dodging the rain and the hot sun.

Then binge watching Ian Fennelly videos has really motivated me. Will I go to the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Hong Kong in April and take a class with Marc Taro Holmes because I’m a 1.5 hour flight away, or to Venice in May for 6 days and learn from Ian? I am considering it all. Because my art has moved away from a very detail-oriented style to towards a more expressive style. 

In my quest to learn all I can, and with an art school within a 5-minute walk from my home, I just began a 10-week course, ‘Song Dynasty Chinese Painting on Silk’, which uses traditional Chinese black ink and painting techniques but with Kuretake watercolour paints. The process is very slow and detailed, with many steps so far. I have only learned how to paint the outlines on silk with ink and how to mount and stretch the silk onto a wooden frame. My teacher, Peng, says it takes 10 2-hour classes to complete, but that I am a fast learner!!!!

[Starting in 960 and ending in 1279, the Song Dynasty consisted of the Northern Song (960-1127) and the Southern Song (1127-1279). With a prosperous economy and radiant culture, this period was considered as another period of ‘golden age’ after the glorious Tang Dynasty (618 – 907).]

My first painting will be a copy of a Song Dynasty painting of crab apple flowers and my background is a soft beige colour, not this dark, boring colour.

Song Dynasty Crab Apple Flowers

Original silk painting of Song Dynasty crab apple flowers


Do I have the right to call myself an artist now? Have l earned that right yet? I guess the answer is I have to feel it in my heart, and my heart tells me that I am able to represent the feelings I have when I do art so much better than when I first embarked on my art journey a time ago. Stay tuned for more on the answer!

A Passion for Tea: Meet Multi-Talented Roz Weitzman

Written by me.

Published in

A Toronto native, Roz Weitzman is a respected educator, consultant, writer and artist. On her extensive travels across China, Roz discovered a passion for tea that she has turned into art: her images of China’s tea culture, tea farms and people all exude a wonderful warmth and authenticity that have instant appeal.

Get your bearings: Mengku township, southwest Yunnan, one of the first areas we sourced from

Wanting to know more a bit about her passion for tea, I approached Roz with a few questions.

Roz has generously agreed to share some of her artwork, together with her journey of tea discovery that we can genuinely call…

My Passion for Tea

Having never been a tea drinker in Canada, except for the odd tea bag in a cup with honey and lemon when I was sick, while in Hong Kong for a month I got a huge awakening at the Hong Kong Tea Museum. I observed not only ancient pictures of tea gatherings, but also all the accoutrements of tea – the loose leaves, the pots, cups, tongs, scoops, tea tables and strainers that are still being used today in modern China.

passion for tea

Learning from the digitized version in English of the famous book on tea, written way back at least 1200 years ago, I came to realize that tea drinking was a fine art and way more than the tea bag in the cup.

passion for tea
The presence of lady bugs and spiders indicates a healthy tea tree

As I met and socialized with more and more Chinese who were avid tea drinkers I began to understand the power of tea. I started to enjoy a variety of clear teas without sugar, milk or lemon for their taste, smell and appearance once steeped. Also the social gathering of tea drinkers as a hobby unto itself seemed to me as a way to broaden one’s mind while winding down from the stresses of life.

Visiting local tea houses in Beijing was always an uplifting experience with a number of ancient performances of Beijing Opera, puppet shows, or music played on very Chinese instruments such as the erhu or guzheng while enjoying your favourite tea.

In 2007, on a trip to Hangzhou, I had the opportunity to visit a tea plantation in Meijiawu, a centre of Longjing tea cultivation. Walking through the tea fields and helping the tea pickers to collect the leaves was an eye-opener to the care that’s taken to preserve the tea leaves for this tea. Its golden colour and the elongated tea leaf shapes floating in the water when steeped in a tall, clear glass add to the pleasant aroma and delicate flavour of this tea. This captivated my senses, and so began my real love of tea.

Another of my favourites is Tieguanyin. This is an oolong tea that’s processed in such a way the leaves become rolled into little green balls. My day is now incomplete if it doesn’t start with a brew of Tieguanyin. Once again it’s the colour, flavour and aroma that pique my interest in this variety, which is not only tasty. It is also a very good source of nutrients that are great for your health….an added bonus to the wonderful cuppa!

A Passion for Tea from South of the Clouds

passion for tea
Tea pickers in traditional dress

The most favoured tea of Yunnan Province in South-West China is Pu’er. Mainly purchased in compressed cakes, the older the tea cake, the more likely it is to be a good quality. I recently did a series of illustrations that depict producing Pu’er tea from main locations of the picking through the step by step processing, to the life of the people in the tea villages.

passion for teaAnd recently I found a new type of Pu’er product which is tea leaves cured inside the empty shell of small green oranges, the size of a golf ball. The taste when steeped is delicious. As you can tell, the whole process of tea and everything surrounding it have influenced me greatly.

passion for teaWhat I’ve really learned is just exactly why tea has been a favourite pastime in China for millennia, how to brew it, why it’s good for the body and the soul and how to gather friends around a tea table and admire and taste the loveliness of tea.

More Artwork by Roz Weitzman

passion for tea
A rope bridge on the Ancient Tea Horse Road, Yunnan
passion for tea
Totems on the roofs of homes in a tea village
passion for tea
Tea porters on the Ancient Tea Horse Road, circa 1920s
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