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This interview was an absolute privilege. Wu De, when in the Western World, is a highly sought after Tea Master.
His ceremonies are World renowned and I had the absolute pleasure of spending a couple of hours with him drinking tea and chatting about Cha Tao (The Way of Tea).
(Notice the dozy state I am in from the tea and Wu De’s hypnotic words…)
www.globalteahut.org is the website for the centre Wu De is part of in Taiwan. They share their learnings, inviting everyone to taste the real depth that tea has to offer. It can be much more than a simple beverage.
This is a just a snippet from the hours of chatting and tea drinking we did. You will notice in this 3 minute clip that we hardly touch upon flavors or tastes because when we drink tea, we drink for a feeling first then for the taste…
(I will write more here after my siesta followed by a high mountain Oolong)
OK, that was a nice siesta, followed by a ‘high mountain oolong’ tea. So I’m fresh and wide awake!
This is the deal, tea is a delicate plant. It’s a beautiful thing (yep, beautiful!). And there are, broadly speaking 3 ways in which tea is available to us in the Western world.
1) Non-organic, ‘tea in a bag’ (always avoid).
Yes, I know most people drink this kind of tea. Well, it’s OK to drink it if you want to, of course it is, though know this – non-organic tea in a bag that is crushed to a powder (commercial english tea and especially those ‘herbal’ teas in brightly colored packets) will have been farmed, cultivated for mass production using chemical fertalizers for maximum plants and profit. Which, by the way, is a BRILLIANT business model if the focus is just profit with little care for the tree or consumer. THIS is the key part, ready; When we drink that kind of tea we also take on the chemicals used to grow it.
2) Organic ‘tea in a bag’ or Organic loose leaf.
This kind of tea is a step in the right direction. It is going to be cleaner than the non-organic tea. Opt for loose leaf organic tea over tea in a bag, especially if the tea in a bag has been crushed to a powder. When tea is in powdered form it means all the tea’s properties will be released in one or 2 steeps, as opposed to 4 or more from the loose leaf. Loose leaf tea just takes a little more effort, and is absolutely worth it.
Important note: not all loose leaf tea is created equally. A lot of loose leaf tea is also grown using chemicals and fertilizers. Look out for that jittery feeling often associated with coffee, it is very often the chemicals used which cause those feelings and not the properties of the natural plant.
3) Living tea (sometimes called wild tea).
This is the real deal… and often hard to find, because it is such a precious thing. It is tea leaves harvested from big old trees that have been alive for hundreds of years. Hundreds of years, often more than 600 years of sunlight, moonlight, taking in energy from the nutrient rich earth high in the mountains of Yunnan where the air is clean and the water pure. That is the kind of tea we want to be drinking. Sometimes deep and wise tea (like the puerh’s), sometimes light and energizing light a high mountain oolong…
There is so much more to write about here, and equally there is much about tea that cannot be communicated through the written word because tea has it’s own energy, it’s ‘chi’. This chi is tricky to describe and almost impossible to define though Wu De answers the question “What is Cha Chi?” from my favorite tea house in London www.TeaSmith.co.uk in a video coming soon…