Living Tea

Chinese Medicine and Red Tea

Red Tea from a TCM Perspective

Colin Hudon - Qing Yu

           Tea people often ponder the infinite, intimate web of relationships woven between terroir and tea. The immeasurable cadence and complex dance of so many biological, atmospheric, climactic, energetic and seasonal forces imbue distinction to a tea garden. From a Taoist perspective, man goes about his diminutive existence in a realm between heaven and earth. We serve as a conduit or gyre of the many forces swirling around us, a microcosm of the great macrocosm of Nature. Thus, we are influenced by forces such as terroir, as much perhaps as a tea tree. Before the “viral” spread of endless distractions in the form of instagrams, snapchats, daily buzzfeeds, and the infinite complexities of modernity, we might have looked out into the vaulted pavilion of the macrocosm and experienced a less tacit connection to Great Nature. And though cajoled by the gravitational pull of modern materialism, this connection to our source continues to move us along, whispering in the wind to “Remember,” or tweeting non-virtually like the “Reminder Birds” of Aldous Huxley’s The Island to “Pay Attention!” The speed of the world and the nature of our technology make it difficult to make best use of this precious resource, attention, which is the core component of mindfulness. What, you might be wondering, does all of this have to do with this month’s tea? Elevation, an Old-Bush Assamica Red Tea from Sun Moon Lake, Nantou, Taiwan, serves perfectly to explore ideas of terroir (as well as social context or social terroir), man’s relationship to the macrocosm and the virtues of red tea.

            While the concept of terroir is quite easy to understand, the reality is complex, beyond any attempts to reduce or quantify. In short, the idea is that many unique qualities are imbued to a tea due to factors beyond genetics and processing. We must also consider, for example, qualities such as soil composition, water source and mineral content, weather, elevation, local eco-systems and influential plants around the tea trees. All these factors lend their subtle signature to the overall Qi of a tea, as well as the less abstract qualities of flavor and aroma. Imagine, for a moment, the influence of elevation on a tea. At higher elevations, the air is thinner, cooler, prone to greater precipitation and mist, and supporting smaller wild shrubs in the local ecosystem. The animals, insects and microbial life are uniquely suited to these conditions. Growing closer to “heaven” (Tian) at the higher elevation with cooler weather, often means sweeter (also Tian) teas. Whereas, teas grown in bright, sunny areas are often more bitter due to the rapid growth of new leaves rather than storing energy in the form of sweet glucose as with small bud teas at colder, higher elevations.  

            Sun Moon Lake is the largest in Taiwan with tranquil waters and mountainous surroundings. As one looks out of over the idyllic scenery, lake water laps with low sounds by the shore. A quiet hum of cicadas fills the air, and the villages around the lake remind us of an older time, though they are more threatened these days by the encroaching development of resorts and tourist attractions. Tea gardens line the surrounding mountains with Buddhist monasteries dotting the landscape, including the well-known Wenwu Temple.  At a moderate elevation of 748 m (2,454 ft) above sea-level, the red teas of this region maintain the sweetness found at higher altitudes with the bitterness of sunny, fully-oxidized, tannin-rich teas. Elevation, like most Hong Cha, consists of one bud and two leaves, processed into a dark colored tea-leaf, yielding a deep crimson liquor. Elevation is withered, rolled to bruise significantly, sun-dried (?), and fully oxidized. Through oxidation, the tannins develop and the tea becomes richer, more robust and invigorating, with flavors of malty, dried fruit, spices, bittersweet cinnamon and cacao. The aroma is very comforting, as is the tea, despite its full flavor and enlivening Qi. Terroir, along with the genetic composition of the cultivar and the processing methodology, all combine to create Elevation. And while they may appear separate, the processing requires the masterful vision and understanding of the tea farmer. In order to understand this complex process, it is helpful to review some basic Taoist ideas that underlie all Taoist arts including Cha Dao.

            When observing Nature, as well as man’s place within the macrocosm, ancient Taoist sages astutely attributed certain qualities to the movements and mechanics of life. They observed the salient, constantly shifting interplay between yin and yang, sun and moon, heaven and earth, day and night, birth and death, solstice and equinox. The vicissitudes of yin and yang take more distinct form as the five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. And, the interactions between the five elements produce the six atmospheres of cold, heat, wind, moisture, dryness and fire. Every aspect of the biosphere, every movement of life, takes place within the magnificent tapestry woven by the interactions of the elements and atmosphere. The health of a species and their habitat depends upon the harmonious relationship between these elements. Human health depends upon man’s ability to live in harmony with nature, understanding that we cannot separate a person or group of people from the context of their lives. Further, nature “conspires” to help man in living a balanced life. Take, for example, the growth of seasonal vegetables and their influence on health. The Spring is the time of the wood element during which an upward and outward movement, like a growing tea tree, piques the sudden proliferation of life. This time of blooming birth and verdant vernal life is characterized by sudden movement, longer days, growing heat, leafless trees bursting into life, overflowing seas and rivers, tornados and hurricanes, thunder and lightning. According to Taoist medicine, spring belongs to the wood element and dominates function of the liver. If we don’t adapt to the changing climate in spring, we may be susceptible to seasonal health problems, such as flu, pneumonia, or a relapse of chronic diseases. It is advisable to reduce the intake of sour flavors and increase sweet and pungent flavors as this facilitates the liver to regulate the vital energy throughout the body. Nature “conspires” to help man by producing foods that support man’s health during the appropriate season. Examples of recommended foods for the spring include onions, leeks, leaf mustard, yam, wheat, dates, cilantro, mushrooms, spinach and bamboo shoots. Fresh green and leafy vegetables should also be included in meals; sprouts from seeds are also valuable. As cold winter keeps us indoors and tends to make us eat too much, people may develop a heat imbalance in the spring, which leads to dry throats, bad breath, constipation, thick tongue coating and dry skin. Foods like bananas, pears, water chestnuts, sugar cane, celery and cucumber help to clear the excessive heat.

           This exploration of man’s relationship to nature, the elements, the atmosphere, the seasons and seasonal foods illustrates the interrelated connection we have to nature. The most obvious way that we interact with Nature is through the food that we grow, harvest, share and consume. All plants have their own reality, their own duties and powers. Each is not only unique, but is given the gift of life and must be respected if its full potential is to be realized. Alas, we return to the inherent power of Sun Moon Lake Red tea. Just as we discussed the Taoist qualities of seasonal foods, so too can we discuss the qualities of Elevation Red Tea. Elevation is a “spring and summer” tea in the sense that it contains the wood element’s upward and outwardly moving Qi. The leaves are abundant, full, large and pulsating with Spring Yang energy, providing warmth and moving to the surface of the body. This movement increases blood circulation, which is a drying, heating process. However, the slight bitterness of the leaf is associated with Summer Fire energy, and the bitter flavor clears heat from the body. Thus, the bitterness balances the heating and drying functions of the strong Qi. All this talk of flavors, elements, temperature and Qi is important in understanding one simple thing: different teas, like different foods, are ideal for specific seasons. We can thus enjoy teas that are appropriate to the season so as to maintain balance and harmony in our lives. Further, we can pick more appropriate teas for a given tea ceremony based on the intention of the tea ceremony.

           Elevation is satisfying and approachable to everyone like a person with an affable, kind, big-hearted personality; a personality like the first day of Spring. The large, healthy leaves are ideal for a bowl, especially during the morning when we are seeking simplicity to start the day and an uplifting Cha Qi. Also, you might notice when you drink this tea with others that the mood lightens and people become more talkative. Part of the reason for this shift is due to the flavors of the tea. Sweet corresponds to the earth element and has a harmonizing effect, bringing a sense of comfort and home to the tea. Whereas, the bitter flavor goes to the heart, allowing the spirit to be at ease, and stoking the fire element which leads to a desire to socialize and share. For these reasons, Elevation has been an ideal tea for many people just starting out on their tea journey. It only requires a simple bowl and boiling water, thus making it ideal for sharing with loved ones. In fact, red tea was the first tea to spread throughout Europe and the rest of the world due to the qualities previously discussed. It is the perfect tea for “social terroir” in the sense that the yang, bittersweet, talkative nature of the tea made it a likely candidate for geographic and social movement. Understanding some of the history of red tea yields a deeper appreciation for Elevation’s ascent in the world of tea.

            The Ming Dynasty (1368- 1644) saw many new developments in tea processing, including Oolong Tea, Flower-scented Tea and Red Tea. Later, during the Qing dynasty (1644-1912), many of the teas developed during this first age of innovation were evolved further. There is considerable controversy over when the 'first' Red Tea appears. It is not so important whether Red Tea originated with Wuyi Cliff Tea ("Congou Black Tea" in the West) in the 16th Century, Xiao Zhong (Souchong Black Teain Fujian around 1730, Qimen Red Teas in the 1700's or the later Gong Fu Hong (Red) Cha (Tea) from Anhui in the late 1800's. Ultimately, the 'first' Red Tea was not particularly popular during its early years. In the 1800's, the export markets in Europe, the American colonies and the Middle East exploded. Perhaps this is due to Red Tea's shelf stability or perhaps due to the compatibility of the bold flavor profiles of Red Teas with the cuisines of Germany, England, France and other nations where Red Tea became the default tea type. As mentioned, the yang nature of the tea certainly contributed to the teas tendency to spread and be shared among the tea lovers the world over. This popularity led to the large-scale production of Red tea in colonial territories in India, Sri Lanka and Kenya. The lack of processing knowledge and the replacement of traditional handmade aspects of tea production with machines produced a bitter, lower-quality, uniform tea. To compensate for the poor production, use of milk, sugar and honey became commonplace.  Thankfully, in recent years we have seen a resurgence of interest in handmade, traditional Red Tea in Taiwan and China. Seed-grown, hand-processed red tea with beautifully shaped leaves and infusions best savored without any additives make for the ideal tea to start out on ones tea journey. As these traditional red teas become more common, perhaps so too shall an appreciation for the subtle richness of red tea and all it has to offer.

            There exists an intertwining relationship between meditation, tea and enlightenment. Tea also cannot be described in words, but only tasted directly right here and right now. Elevation is ideal as a bowl tea, and in our tradition, bowl tea is about casting off qualitative considerations. We return to appreciation of meditation, simplicity, openness, receptivity and connection to those with whom we share the moment. For these reasons, Elevation holds a very important role in our tradition because it keeps two essential functions of tea intact: humility and connection. Those of us in the Los Angeles community who have been drinking tea for many years, and who appreciate the refinement of Gongfu Tea, often return to bowl tea with Elevation when sharing tea with a person new to Cha Dao, when sharing with a large group, or when we wish to return to our roots. This remembrance and return to one’s roots is as essential to sharing tea with an open heart as it is to remaining a student. The way of tea is a long, winding path into the misty mountains- a path that one could walk for many, many years before reaching the peak. In fact, one would reach the peak, only to realize that they are surrounded by summits, each with its own tea path. Thus, the imperative to remain always a student in this life of tea is fundamental, and one that Elevation Red Tea can certainly accompany like an old, wise friend.

 

 

 

 

 

Music and Tea

The Sound of the Leaf

CWH

               For the musician, tea arrives in life as a godsend, a stillness in the noise, a craft to develop artistic control, an opportunity to create culture and express vision, an embrace of the enduring value of transitory beauty. For the tea person, music is the light that accents a dark room, the perfect touch and final punctuations of the tea ceremony, the extra dimension of color that brings tea to life, the fluid frame of a tea narrative, the cherry on top. Most musicians are creative people who spend a lot of their lives in their imagination and work to bring their visions into the world. They seek perfection, innovation, expression and the pulse of culture, often understanding the deeper mythic movements of culture better than the culture itself. While they emerge from an inner place, many of these characteristics are outward manifestations. Most tea folks (cha ren) are attracted first to the archetype of the sage. They seek truth, freedom, wisdom, self-understanding and the meticulous study of detail. The sage studies life outwardly, yet ultimately wishes to find the truths within. They seek not knowledge alone, but the realization of true understanding. The Artist and the Sage find their alliance in the alchemy of Tea. And thus, these two extraordinary mediums of Music and Tea were born for eachother; Long lost unrequited lovers who find their consummation in the tea ceremony. Together, they allow the master of ceremony to pluck acoustic landscapes from different times and places, and set that landscape as the backdrop to the singular, momentary event of the tea ceremony. It is in this marriage that the fluid and static merge, that the moments of Presence expand into a symphony of sensorial immersion. They compliment one another perfectly, and when the selection of music aptly hems a tea ceremony, a prosaic meditative experience is elevated to a sublime artistic expression.

            Music and Tea share an important characteristic. Neither of them is serious, yet both should be approached with sincerity and thoughtfulness. From a utilitarian perspective, both crafts are fairly superfluous. And yet, nobody in their right mind would question the indispensability of music and tea to a life well-lived. They are important parts of our lives. In the words of Oscar Wilde, “life is far too important to be taken seriously.” And like the many rascals, merry pranksters, archetypal fools, wandering sages, and grinning bards of teas colorful history, so too must the selection of music for tea carry notes of combined levity and sincerity. For what is life but a wonderfully evanescent game? And in this game, the play of music and the performance of tea ceremony are certainly “play,” though neither trivial nor frivolous. To be of a higher expression, these mediums require sincerity, honesty, attention and perhaps most importantly, the ability to not take oneself too serious in identifying with the role of “tea master,” “tea person,” or “musician.” These roles are temporary facades used to explore a state of being, and a mode of service. As soon as they become crystallized, the spontaneity wherein shines the magic of tea and music, is lost. Music and tea that take themselves too seriously fail to fulfill their purpose.

            At this moment in history, humanity does not “need” more subjective expressions of abstract, conceptual or visual art. These modes are the business of museums and galleries. We need another kind of art that changes people and heals them through an intimate experience. We no longer need to pick apart, and deconstruct and interpret the world through our creative mediums. We need to construct a new world through a useful medium that represents not a revolution, but a transformation. In the words of Buckminster Fuller, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” At their higher levels, tea and music are expressive mediums that come from love, create space for love, embody nature’s love of man and the resonant rhythms that are central to the life of man. Thus, they broadcast a message of unity and wholeness without ulterior motives. When the details of the tea ceremony, including musical accompaniment, come from this place of wholeness and connection, the medium of tea as an art form reaches its zenith. Music crystallizes and catalyzes the inherent healing potential of tea as a moving meditation and living art.

            While there is no good or bad music for tea, there are certainly more appropriate musical selections. The “better” selection of music depends on the intentions and circumstances surrounding the ceremony. Here are some of the considerations in choosing musical accompaniment: time of day, weather, occasion, environment, guests, cha xi and of course, the tea. A Cha Jin or tea person looks for subtle communication and honoring of the guest in the Cha Xi, the ceremony and the attitude of the moment. Music is an important means of communication and exemplifies the cha jin’s understanding of the needs of this moment. Further, musical selection offers an opportunity to place personal preference aside in consideration of the guests and the circumstances of the tea session. Like so many things in a tea life, this process of letting go while paying attention to the moment allows for a doorway to open to deeper states of consciousness in the tea ceremony. The following categories offer a general outline of considerations in selecting music for tea. Again, these suggestions are general, and no list will ever supersede experience in the process of learning about tea.

 Green Tea- (lu cha): 

            Evanescent aromas, flavors and Qi that come and go like a dream. The Zen aesthetic of Ichie Go Ichie or One Chance, One Encounter is beautifully epitomized by the subtle qualities of green tea. Japanese green teas are steamed and this process brings out the fresh grassiness, while Chinese teas are wok fried, which brings out a nuttier, more complex, toasted flavor. Green tea is fresh, slightly dry or astringent, toasted, clean, cooling and refreshing. Most people like it the most in the morning because it has the highest caffeine, which is balanced by the theanine, to feel relaxed and alert.

            In matching the delicacy of aroma, the gentle flavors, the historical relationship to Zen and Japanese Chanoyu, and the quality of evanescence, one can choose music that evokes similar qualities. Japanese Shakuhachi flute serves this purpose very well. Due to its unique ability to imitate more sounds from nature than any other instrument, the haunting beauty of Shukuhachi is embraced by Zen masters and nature-lovers alike. Some particularly gifted modern masters are: Stan Richardson, Goro Yamaguchi, and Kurahashi Yoshio. Some of John Cage’s pieces are subtle and wonderful with green tea, reminding us that creating music, as well as living life, are as much about listening as they are about making something.

 White Tea- (bai cha):           

            A green tea leaf covered with a white, downy, hair-like fur, yielding a pale-green jade liquor. Usually air-dried in the sun. The leaves are picked very carefully so as not to bruise and oxidize the tea. The air/sun drying will naturally set the oxidation level at 5-10%. The flavor is light, elegant with slight nutty notes and floral fragrance. It is a very mild, gentle, meditative tea. For these reasons, we often enjoy white teas in the afternoon and early evening.

            Bai Cha is all about gentle opening, subtle details, and ethereal delicacy. Thus, the appropriate musical accompaniment shares these characteristics. Some artists worth exploring are Goldmund, Arvo Part, Johann Johannson, Max Richter, Nawang Kechog, Arms and Sleepers, and Evan Bartholemew. Many of these artists draw heavily from string instruments and piano, with distinctively sparse emphasis on individual notes and extensive use of silence. These qualities of space for silence and distinct notation allow room for perception of the subtle aspects of white tea’s flavor and Qi.

Oolong Tea:

            The most gloriously diverse tea with semi-oxidization ranging from 12-18% or 40-80%, depending on the style of Oolong, which yields many variations of gold, yellow and red in the liquor. The leaves are first dried slightly under the sun, then shaken or rolled to begin oxidation, then pan-fried, followed by rolling and further drying- all with significant variation depending on the style. Ball, striped and unprocessed Oolong are the most common. Generally we refer to light or dark Oolong depending on the oxidation levels. Light Oolongs focus more on floral, creamy notes while the darker Oolongs or more roasted, toasted, fruity and complex. The red corners of leaves come from the damage to the edges in the rolling process. The beauty of Oolong is maintaining the freshness of light teas while bringing out the complexity, sweetness, depth and body of the darker teas. Therefore, we have a tremendous variety of music that would accompany Oolong nicely.

            Many of the artists suggested for White Tea also work well for light oolongs. Some additional considerations are Maxence Cyrin, James Blackshaw, and Jami Sieber. For darker oolongs, we can explore bassier, more complex and layered music including acoustic and electronic instruments. Modern classical artists like F.S. Blumm, Peter Broderick and Anne Muller explore heavily atmospheric piano-centric pieces that carry the complexity and depth of Oolong. Nils Frahm and Olafur Arnalds are two of my favorites. Many of us in the Global Tea Hut community know of Jonsi’s tea-famous album Riceboy Sleeps, which is a beautiful example of music that carries the complexity, depth, atmosphere and impressions left by a traditionally processed Oolong.

Red Tea- (hong cha):

            Generally one bud and two leaves, processed (oxidized/fermented) into a dark colored tea-leaf, yielding a red beverage. Usually dry-fried or hot-air dried, fully oxidized and rolled to bruise significantly. Through oxidation, the tannins develop and the tea becomes richer, stronger, more robust and invigorating. Malty, dried fruit, spices, bittersweetness. The aroma is very comforting, as is the tea. Red tea is very satisfying and approachable to everyone.

                  Two qualities that we rely on when considering musical pairing with red tea are accessibility and movement. Generally, anyone beginning their journey into the world of Living Teas will start with red tea because it is approachable, frank, robust and easy to brew. Thus, this category of tea music is broad and open. Generally, we drink red tea in the morning or earlier in the day when the yang energies are rising and we are waking up. I personally prefer music that is more moving, invigorating and awakening to match the time of day and the energies of the tea. If tea is part of one’s morning meditation, they might listen to kirtan or mantra such as Krishna Das, Choying Drolma, Lama Gyurme, or Yungchen Lhamo. I often listen to uplifting music from different parts of the world including African artists Samite, Ayub Ogada, Toumani Diabate, Boubacar Traore and Baaba Maal. One of my all-time favorite West African musicians is Ali Farka Toure, whose low-pitched vocals, midtempo rhythms and often minimal accompaniment make him a good candidate for a good morning red tea session. His respective collaborations with Toumani Diabate, Ry Cooder and Idan Raichel just might change your life. Red tea is often served as a bowl tea, which is all about letting go of mental constructs, meticulous brewing methodology and heady tea. Bowl tea is about returning to what is essential in tea: leaves and water and the simple joy of being. Therefore, my suggestion for music is to do the same. Go with what you love to listen to in the morning, what speaks to you, what connects you to the joy of life, tea and music.

Puerh Tea:

            Puerh is good for a life-long obsession because there is incredible variation in processing, aging, region of origin and brewing. Thus, one can draw from a vast palette of music depending on what fits the occasion and tea. Puerh is a dark, oxidized tea that is picked, withered (to oxidize and dehydrate the tea), fried (to kill green enzymes that make tea bitter and arrest oxidation), rolled (to break down the cells and expose the inner essence of the tea), and finally sun-dried. If the tea is then left to ferment naturally, in conjunction with the endless microbes in it, we call it “sheng” or “raw” Puerh. If the tea is then piled and sprayed with water, covered with thermal blankets and turned, in order to artificially ferment it, we call it “shou” or “ripe puerh,” which can be ready to drink within two months. The cultivars are wild or semi-wild large, old-growth trees. The flavor is very earthy with qualities of dark, wet, loamy soil, fresh leaves and undergrowth. Puerh microbes help with digestion and lend their mysterious power to the strong Qi of Puerh.

            Within Puerh tea, there exists too vast a world of flavor, aroma, sensation and impression to easily match it with specific genres of music. Therefore, these are some general suggestions. For dark, earthy, grounding ripe Puerh teas (often consumed in the afternoon or evening), one might enjoy more meditative, deeper music. Some artists worth exploring are: Armenian master of the duduk Djivan Gasparayan (album From the Soil), Lisa Gerrard, Sangeeta Shankar, Loscil, Arms and Sleepers, Benjy Wertheimer and Tim Hecker. Sheng puerh varies considerably depending on many factors, most notably the age of the tea. Generally, for aged Puerh, the Qi is deep and strong. Thus more grounding, deeper music typically more appropriate. Whereas, the “youthfulness” of young Puerh tea is most evident in the strong, enlivening Qi that fills the body and uplifts the spirit, while also carrying the distinct characteristics of the trees and land. For younger puerh, I often like to explore artists with combined depth and energy like Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi, Gujin master Li Xiangting, Jami Sieber, or Brian Eno. You might also explore modern artists whose music goes well with tea. For example, consider songs like The Trapeze Artist by Iron and Wine, Cicadas and Gulls by Feist, Yawny at the Apocalypse by Andrew Bird, Rolling on the Sea by Taj Mahal, the Ballad of Keenan Milton by Devendra Banhart, or Matters Most by Tim Reynolds. Again, these are all just suggestions or perspectives on an incredibly intimate, personal topic. The music that you discover and use to accent your teas sessions is a unique expression of your understanding of what the moment calls for. Just as it requires personal experience with your teas to know the best way to brew and when to serve a particular tea, so too must you explore the infinite worlds and genres of music to find the best music for a tea session. While it exceeds the scope of this exploration, when choosing music for a tea session you will also want to consider the season, the weather, the environment where the session takes place, the occasion and the cha xi. By harmonizing the music with all of these elements, you weave an acoustic fabric through the experience that heightens the senses and deepens the “listening.” Finally, when drinking tea alone you might not know what’s best in terms of music. When in doubt, just put on the Blues or sit in silence.

            Music modernizes because it speaks a timeless language of the heart. So much of tea’s healing power is in its ability to remind people of their true history, their true selves. This self-reflective quality also exists in the cathartic power of music. The trees in Yunnan were thousands of years old before China discovered them. People chewed and ate the leaves for strength and vigor and other medicinal qualities. Music is as old as the first hide pulled tight between an encircled piece of thick bark. It calls to what is essential in us, to the heartbeat of humanity. And, by carefully combining these two forms, we remind participants in the tea ceremony who and what we are. We remember that which is essential to the human experience. We remember our humanity. A cha jin’s role in hosting tea is to create a space within which the guests can remember the simple joy of living, remember who they are, connect with their interior lives, connect with one another and find right relationship to their lives. May your journey in these two magnificent mediums of connection deepen as your life of tea unfolds.

 

 

 

Written by Colin Hudon — June 24, 2016

The Six Values of Cha Tao (The Way of Tea)

1 Meditation-

The cultivation of Stillness, Awareness, Concentration, Wisdom and Presence. Includes Prayer, Offerings, Devotional Acts, the Study of Holy Texts and Masters of Bygone Eras. The intentional attendance to our interior lives. Existing freely in the fullness of our whole being.

 2 Virtue-

Striving towards the ideal Good that is known through human-heartedness and the quiet voice of the conscience. To Be Good and Virtuous not as one Ought to be, but as one Is in their true Self. Morality based on the purification of the mind and emotions through meditation, self-observation and the insight that All Life if Connected. By embodying virtue in our lives, we invite other to strive for virtue within themselves.

 3 Vitality –

All consciousness and matter is composed of energy vibrating at different frequencies, balanced by the emptiness within which all Form exists. Form is Emptiness and Emptiness is Form. The clarity of our Body (right practice), Feelings (right attitude), and Mind (Right Understanding) depend upon the energy composing our Being. Diet (Plant-based, Organic, Whole Foods), movement (Qi Gong, Dao In, Tai Qi, Yoga), healing (Chinese Medicine, Herbs, Acupuncture, Healing Arts), cleanliness, purity, and reverence for one’s self and one’s environment create the ripe conditions for a Life of Tea and Tao. These details of our daily life create the energy with which we serve tea and our clarity as harmonious channels of Tea Spirit.   

 4 Methodology- Right Practice – Growing Deep Roots and Vast Canopy

                Great Nature – Bowl Tea – Connecting to the Trees and Spirit of Tea

 Aesthetic Sensibility- Gong Fu Cha-  Alchemy is Sublimation, Sublimation is Art, Art is Expression, Expression is Flow, Flow is Natural, Natural is Graceful, Graceful is Beautiful, Beauty is Art, Art is Alchemy  

5 Tradition- 4 Pillars – Honoring that which has come before and the generations to come. The 4 pillars of this tradition stem from the source and evolve through the traditions that have always treated Tea as a means of communing with Nature, with Oneself and with Others. The 4 pillars: Nature, Shamanism, Taoism, Zen.

6 Community – Being a Man or Woman for Others – Developing meaningful, authentic relationships with the proper utilization of tea as a bridge to connection: Service, Healing, Selflessness, Consideration, Love. 

Living Tea Online


Hello Tea Friends and Family!!!

Welcome to the new website. We are very pleased to connect with our community through this new medium. Our intention with the website is to provide a place for you to find the finest tea, teaware and other tea-related treasures, as well as to create a symposium for dialogue, education, inspiration and curiosity. Oftentimes, Cha Ren (tea folk) discover the vast world of tea and wish to explore it deeper, though they feel overwhelmed by the profusion of online information (and misinformation). Just as we are committed to hand-selecting the finest Living Teas and quality teaware, we are also committed to sharing very reliable, inspiring, interesting material on tea types and varieties, cultivation methods, tea folklore and history, and Cha Dao (The Way of Tea).

We believe that tea is a Way of Life, A Dao. As such, it expands far beyond the rim of the cup and the rising steam. It blends with every aspect of life from the cleanliness and purity of food one consumes, to the practices of meditation and Qi cultivation to quiet the mind and hone the essence (Jing and Qi), to the way we interact with others and the harmony we find with nature. We relate to tea as a Way of awakening and embodying Presence in our lives. Our sincere wish at Living Tea is to share this Way. This blog will be a forum for reflection on this Life of Tea. Please visit often as we will be posting reflections, insights and photos regularly.  Thank you for joining us on this winding, cloud-hidden path. May we meet very soon over a steaming bowl.