People changing the world with Tea Spirit…


People changing the world with Tea Spirit…

Each month, we introduce one of the Global Tea Hut members to you in order to help you get to know more people in this growing international community. It’s also to pay homage to the many manifestations that all this wonderful spirit and Tea are becoming, as the Tea is drunk and becomes human. The energy of the Tea fuels some great work in this world, and we are so honored to share glimpses of such beautiful people and their Tea.

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February 2018, Emily Foate, New Zealand

If you have been reading Global Tea Hut in the last year or so, chances are you will have read some articles that I translated into English, originally penned by our Chinese-language tea experts. My journey to this page in Global Tea Hut began, fittingly enough, with a love of words. Growing up in Christchurch, New Zealand, I was always enchanted by words and language. This showed up when I was very small as a tendency to chatter away as I went about my business, making up or reciting stories, songs or poems—to myself or anyone else in earshot! I became an avid reader and discovered a love for writing and learning languages. I also grew up in a family of tea-drinkers, so any wordy pursuits would often be accompanied by a cup of tea (in those days, it was more likely to be Earl Grey than oolong!).

Later, at university, I embarked on the study of Mandarin Chinese. I was drawn by the possibility of exploring a language and writing system so different than my native English; this was certainly the most life changing-decision I’ve ever made. It eventually took me to Shanghai and later to Beijing, where I continued my language studies and later worked on various projects as a translator and interpreter, as well as leading groups of students from international schools across China on experiential education trips around China and Inner Mongolia. Immersing myself in daily life in Beijing also introduced me to a new world of tea and tea culture.

A vivid tea memory from this period was when I accompanied a group of thirteen- to fourteen-year-old students on a trip to Anhui province. We were lucky enough to stay at Dabeilou monastery on Mount Jiuhua. A sense of stillness and suspended time blanketed us as soon as we arrived—something that can be rare for many of us, even those of us who are not teenagers living in Hong Kong! The residents of the monastery also produce tea—while there, the students were able to try their hand at picking buds from the bushes on the surrounding mountains, and briefly take part in traditional hand-processing of the leaves. It’s a very special feeling to witness young people connecting with this process and with the locals who have passed it down. That feeling of participating in the sharing of knowledge and culture was one of the most rewarding things about those trips, and is ultimately pretty similar to the goal of the craft of translation. At its heart, translation is about sharing knowledge, and that is something I feel honored to be able to do.

While researching for the translations I work on, I tend to make use of resources in both Chinese and English—while there’s a sizeable body of writings in English on many aspects of Chinese tea, tea culture and Cha Dao, there are often times when I’ll come across a concept, or a certain tea, or a production technique, for which no English material turns up at all. For me, those moments feel very rewarding—they’re a reminder that I was able to transmit some small gem of knowledge to tea lovers reading in English, perhaps for the first time. Translating for Global Tea Hut, I’m delighted to collaborate with such a positive community of people, and to work with such engaging subject matter (as a translator, this is not to be taken for granted!). It has certainly broadened my knowledge of the world of tea and Cha Dao, and I also have this partnership to thank for opening my eyes to many wonderful new teas.

For the time since I began translating for Global Tea Hut in 2016, I’ve been based in Toronto, Canada, which has brought many new experiences, too. Some things remain the same, though I still drink tea to accompany my work, whenever I emerge from my page (well, screen) full of characters! I usually choose to drink whichever tea is the focus of the article I’m working on—I like to think that, somehow, this will help channel the essence of the tea into the words that you end up reading on these pages!

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January 2018, Bo Wong, Australia

I grew up with Tea. Tea has always been there for me, from my grandma always drinking black tea, eyeing my other grandma’s golden dragon tea set, to making my own herbal blends. My name is Bo Wong and I live in Brisbane, Australia; I live at the bottom of a mountain and my housemate plays giant gongs.

My family migrated to New Zealand from Malaysia before I was born. We were never normal, as I have fond memories of eating off banana leaves instead of plates, helping my grandma grow food and harvesting food from the sea. Later in life I got more into Tao practices and alternative health, so serving tea seems like a natural progression and something that always been within me, waiting to awaken.

After my first tea ceremony at a friend’s place, I felt an instant connection, awareness and happiness that tea was something I wanted to know more and explore. I was hooked and have been presented with the most beautiful moments and connections of drinking tea in Nature and learning more about Her spirit.

I never knew there was so much to be learned about tea, all the different varieties, brewing methods, history, processing and quality. At first, it was a little overwhelming to discover there was this entire culture that could offer so much and I had never really known about it. Since then I’ve known it’s the right path to go down and it makes my heart sing with joy.

I’ve learnt to be gentle with myself and all that tea has to offer, remaining nonjudgmental that I may not know as much as others, but instead I listen to the messages tea teaches me. It has taught me to slow down, listen to my heart, dance with life and be more present rather than stressed, rushed and constantly push through.

I love the simplicity tea ceremony in particular can offer and have been so drawn to serving tea in this way. I hold monthly tea ceremonies at my space and before my women’s circles, in which I’ve seen the transformative power a simple bowl can hold, the connections and heartfelt conversations afterwards.

For me, being part of the Global Tea Hut continues to connect me to kind, caring people who I am honored to be friends with. The info has been such a blessing and is so synchronistic with what is going on in my life. I’m so glad to have met the spirit of Tea, be part of the Hut and all it brings into my life. I would love to share tea with more of you and hope that we continue to learn and grow together.

I work with diet, food and health, offering consultations and exploration of a healthy, organic lifestyle, sharing what I learn with others as I grow in this beautiful life through writing, photography and videography. Tea plays an important role in what I do, both in terms of physical and spiritual well-being.

Tea has taken me on a wonderful journey which I will continue to share with others and ceremony has become a big part of my life. I’ve learnt to love more, trust my inner wisdom, build a stronger bond with nature and thrive to create beauty in every moment. This is my wish for everyone. If you’re ever in my part of the world, I would love to share a bowl or three with you! Blessings, my friends.

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December 2017, Yuliya Maslyn, Sweden

I am a tea lover, not a tea nerd, and there is no definite beginning to my tea journey. Since my teenage years, I have been drinking loose-leaf tea, creating my own rituals, reinforced by random snippets of information and my personal interpretation of them. Tea time was my daily portion of miracle; it brightened up my life and elevated me from the mundane by taking me to foreign, poetic places. I hadn’t yet found tea friends or come across a tea community, and my tea ceremonies were odd enough to keep casual tea drinkers away. As I grew and evolved, so did my tea practice, though it had no direction or focus, like many other aspects of my life.

A big milestone in my tea journey was, of course, discovering this Global Tea Hut community in 2014. I first heard Wu De talk in an interview about living tea—a narrative which resonated with my beliefs about life in general, but through the prism of tea, it gained a broader meaning. I subscribed to the magazine straight away. Over the following year, I just tuned in and absorbed the knowledge spread across the pages, intertwined with beautiful images. The more I read, the more obvious my lack of experiential knowledge became, especially transmitted through a direct encounter with authentic tradition. After one year of reading the magazine, I got in touch with some Global Tea Hut members in Tallinn and booked my tickets to attend Wu De’s workshops there.

It was a mesmerizing experience to be served tea by Wu De, and to have a chance to finally embody all those words I’d read in the magazine. It’s like falling into a vortex and getting pulled deeper in: Dark, warm, aromatic liquor envelops you, stops time and disorients you from the exact location, but gives you a pulsating sensation that signals you are at the right place and right time, and that it all couldn’t be any other way. It’s like free diving: Once you’re under the surface, everything stops, and at the same time, everything happens to you. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for such a profound moment. This feeling of gratitude and reverence for Tea has grown day by day ever since.

The second year passed by, bringing me closer to the Global Tea Hut community. After spending another weekend with Wu De in Czech and learning more about the tradition, I started serving bowl tea to my friends. Very gently and humbly She started talking to me, and our dialog began. “We learn to teach, we teach to understand,” became my mantra from that year with Tea, Yoga and Singing Bowls. Every time I serve tea, I witness magic happening: my guests’ faces light up and their spirits elevate, creating nice vibrations in the tea space. The Leaf is the best teacher of presence, observance and patience. I need to be alert, relaxed, calm and creative to unpack the healing potential hidden in tea, and cultivating these qualities has a transformative and long-lasting effect. At first, I started to pay attention to each session, but very quickly this has come to stretch into the time between sessions, and gradually started affecting my personality. I can see how my interaction with others became smoother and I am more content within myself, honoring that sacred space created by the Leaf. Tea also helps me steer through the modern world with all the possibilities it gives us, where it is very easy to get distracted by the abundance of choices. When I get drawn into the midst of wants, shoulds and needs, Tea draws my attention back to the center and helps ground me—to slow down, reflect and remember what is important in life: connection to Self, Nature and Other people.

To interact with Tea is profound, humbling, gratifying and always elevating me to a better version of myself. Before joining Global Tea Hut, I was just drinking tea, but now I have a practice, which follows a tradition and brings joy to my life. The purity and simplicity of the Hut tradition gives me a resting space, where I can get into the flow and let the Leaf change this world into a better place bowl by bowl.

Speaking of that change, it would be an honor to share a bowl of tea with you. Please get in touch if you are planning to come to Stockholm, or visit www.yuliya.life/tea to find more about our local Swedish tea gatherings!

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November 2017, Tatyana Leonova, Russia

In preparation for this honor, I read almost all the TeaWayfarers in Global Tea Hut and I cried several times, so touching were the words of people—straight to the heart, as Tea always is, in any form: liquid, silence, words or the warm care of a grandmother. Here are some details of my Tea journey.

It all started in 2008 in Novosibirsk. A good friend of mine, Ivan, was sitting in my kitchen. We were drinking strawberry sencha. It was midnight, and we were chatting. After a few sips, he told me that there is another way of drinking tea—the “Chinese tea ceremony”—and he invited me to one he was hosting at his home. From the first cup, I fell in love. It was so mysterious, so touching, so deep, so silent! I got into it very quickly and became a part of the local tea community, who often gathered for silent tea sessions through our long and cold Siberian winters.

Some time later, I started a meditation practice, which also influenced my tea. I also moved from Siberia to the Netherlands to study, where people drink tea in bags. I was surprised that it was so hard to find any loose-leaf tea. I felt a bit sad and lonely without tea friends. But I had brought my teaware from Russia, and I brought some tea from Russia every time I went back.

Each summer, when I went home for the holidays, the first thing I did was drink tea with my friends there. One summer, three years ago, I found myself on a tea retreat in the Altay Mountains with Ilyas Jetbayev (also a past TeaWayfarer). It was a one-week tea retreat called “Tea Diving,” in a very beautiful and wild place. I got to know Wu De’s teachings there, learned of this tea tradition and of the existence of Global Tea Hut. I felt very much connected to this approach of drinking tea in a silent and meditative way—to focus on connection to yourself, others and Nature.

I came back to the Netherlands and subscribed to Global Tea Hut right away. I thought it was amazing that you could get such great tea every month delivered to your door! A few month later, I opened my envelope and saw on the last page that “Jasper Hermans is serving Tea in the Netherlands”! I was very pleasantly shocked and happy that there was somebody else here who practices tea the way I do. A few months later, I met Jasper at a public ceremony held at the Amsterdam Zen Center. A bit later, our Dutch Global Tea Hut community started to grow. Since then, we have organized many tea events together with our tea friends in the Netherlands, and I feel very grateful to be part of such a wonderful local tea community.

It was very special for me to meet Wu De in person and to listen to his teachings. They resonate very deeply with me, and some of them have become the principles I follow in my life, helping me to live more peacefully, harmoniously and, ultimately, to be a better person.

I feel grateful to the Global Tea Hut community, mostly because I have met so many great people in this hut. The Global Tea Hut Netherlands and Belgium communities have grown a lot during the last two or three years. Now, we often gather for tea together, fetch water at a spring in Belgium and regularly organize weekend Tea retreats. Last May, nine Dutch Chajin served tea at the Dutch Tea Festival, spreading the word about Global Tea Hut. We even served tea to 250 people in one day.

Tea helps me to calm down, and it works for me as an easy entrance to meditation. A good tea session has a healing effect on me. Among other things, Tea has helped me to finish my PhD thesis. Tea is definitely something that gives me energy and makes me happy, and even though it is often like a hobby for me, there are times when Tea plays a major part in my life, and I feel it is my Dao.
If any of you happen to be in the Netherlands, please stop by Eindhoven to share some tea. We hold weekly tea gatherings and are always happy to host any tea lover.

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October 2017, Samson Swanick, USA

I live in Bali and drink tea. But, I also do a lot of other things: I run custom educational adventures to reconnect kids to Nature; I have a past life regression/hypnotherapy practice; I do sustainability consulting, build aquaponic systems; I run a permaculture farm, brew kombucha, teach meditation, have sound healings; and as a musician, perform songs I wrote about self-empowerment/spirituality in the genres of singer/songwriter and hip-hop… But my favorite thing to do (besides making puns and laughing at my own jokes) is to serve and drink tea!

My journey towards the discovery of Tea was a long, adventurous route. However, looking back, by following the breadcrumbs, I was really collecting puzzle pieces for a masterpiece—one that would change my life forever. Being born in the southwestern desert of the USA, I always dreamt of visiting the vast emerald green hills of Ireland. It was in this most magical of places that I got my first taste of the Leaf. I was invited to attend afternoon tea.

For years after that glorious experience, in the afternoons, I would carefully arrange and enjoy the liquid healing pleasure of each cup. I had always greatly appreciated how Tea could help me become more mindful and help me to truly appreciate the moment, the surrounding Nature and my contentment to just be. This was something I really appreciated, because even before I met Tea, I had a mediation practice and had studied with many different teachers. All their various techniques seemed to foster the feelings that Tea gave me naturally.

I had been living in a hut in Bali, spending my days eating fruit and mediating. A friend of mine, a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor, Dave Melladew, invited me over for a tea ceremony. On his balcony overlooking the rice fields, from his sidehandle pot, he poured an elixir of pure alchemy, and I awoke into a field of infinite silence, tranquility and peace. It was beautiful in every sense and in every way. I still remember that first bowl. Then, a couple of months later, fate, luck or destiny would bring me to another magical encounter, face-to-face with a bowl of tea poured by the hands and heart of Wu De. Wu De had traveled to Bali and was holding a Tea ceremony at Dave’s place, and I was invited.

We started meditating and drinking Tea, and my reality started to blur and come undone. It was as if a soft, angelic embrace had floated me far away in time and space. I had met Tea, and She, with Her infinite compassion, had brought me into Her world. She showed me where the tea I was drinking had come from; She showed me the surrounding trees and shared that these were the friends that kept those tea trees company. I felt the Nature flowing through the tea and into me, reminding me of who I really am. I felt Her unconditional love and learning in each sip. My life was forever changed. Like so many of you, Tea came upon me suddenly and whisked me away.

I opened my eyes and immediately asked what most people ask, “What kind of tea was that?!” Wu De responded like he normally does to that question. I said, “Okay, just tell me when and where and I’ll be there.” Later on, a three-week visit to the Tea Sage Hut turned into a two-month pilgrimage to Taiwan, Wuyi and Yixing with an incredible group of tea brothers and sisters, whom all hold a deep place in my heart. It was an epic trip: We saw and learned so much!

As my life journey continues to unfold, I could not feel more honored, humbled and grateful to have a goddess holding my hand along the way. And, I have the deepest privilege to serve and share this divine healing with others. It is with deep reverence that I serve tea—She is medicine, my love and my path. In my pain, She soothes; in my confusion, She illuminates; in my soul, She awakens and shows me the way—the Way of Tea.

If you’re ever in Bali, stop by my hut in Ubud! I’ll tell you a few dumb jokes and pour you a bowl of tea. Then, in holy gratitude, we can commune together with this most divine and healing goddess—all amongst the vibrant jungle of paradise on the Island of the Gods.

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September 2017, Matthew Grohne, USA

In my household growing up, I remember tea being on the table many nights. Herbal tea, that is. It was something to soothe the throat when sick or to warm the body on a cold winter night. A space in the kitchen cupboard was dedicated to a variety of tea bags, my favorite of which was peppermint. But I don’t consider that the beginning of my tea journey.

Neither was it the beginning when, in my late 20s, I began to drink green, oolong and chai teas purchased from a large tea store chain. Despite some exploration, at that point tea was simply another beverage—something I drank from a mug as I did other things. The door had begun to crack open, but I had not yet walked through.

Rather, the beginning was when a friend asked me to accompany her to a tea tasting with someone she had met at a regional tea festival. I hesitated at first, not really knowing what to expect, and at that point, not being particularly excited about an evening of tea. But as we sat that evening in a small studio apartment with three visitors from the other side of the country and one charismatic tea seller, sipping tea from tiny cups and chatting about tea and life, the door swung wide open.

When something sparks my interest, it tends to catch quickly and to burn hot. That night, I walked away with some Dong Ding oolong (which I finished quickly) and some shou puerh (which I have yet to drink, perhaps out of sentimentality), as well as with the start of something that would become integral to my life. In the coming weeks and months, a few friends and I began to explore tea more deeply—spending weekends frequenting tea shops in and around Seattle, ordering teas from various online sellers and having tea sessions late into the night. It continued like this for some time—and then I discovered Global Tea Hut.

I had been a meditation practitioner for a number of years, studying Buddhism and other contemplative traditions and finding tangible benefits in putting the teachings to practice. So when I found Global Tea Hut, which integrated these two major parts of my life, it was a revelation. Tea became meditation, ceremony and a way of life. I still remember the excitement I felt upon receiving the February 2016 issue of the magazine (my second issue) and seeing that the topic was Zen and tea. As I sipped the Five Element Blend and read the articles therein, I had the distinct feeling that it felt “right.”

That feeling has only intensified in these past two years, especially after traveling to China in April on the annual trip. Meeting other members of the Global Tea Hut family has truly deepened my sense of connection to this community: articles in the magazine have become the words of friends. May you all find the connection and peace of mind that tea offers, through tea or otherwise. Look me up if you’re ever around Olympia, WA. I would love to share tea with you. And if you will be at the Tea Sage Hut at the end of November, I’ll see you soon!

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August 2017, Petr Novak, Czech Republic

I grew up in a place where tea was drunk in some form almost everywhere: it was a casual, daily beverage to everyone I knew. But my first real touch, I remember—the first seduction of the Leaf with all the magic behind it—was during my late teens at some post-hippie/rainbow festival. It was a colorful and wild event, but I spent the whole week sitting in one tent, watching a shaman mixing/boiling herbs (tea) and pouring them in cups and bowls for anyone who came. At least that was my romanticized idea of what happened. But no matter what really happened those many years ago, I have been hooked since.

I immediately started to look around for tea. It was during that time that tea houses were opening in Czech in every town and city, large or small, and tea was very popular. It was a great time for a teenager looking for his place in this world to discover tea. There was a tiny tea house nearby, and quite quickly, a group of people who hung around there become very close to me. We spent several evenings a week in that tearoom, each of us for different reasons: Enjoying new flavors and aromas, travelers’ stories, exotic music, spiritual books and discussing our first meditation retreats. So many things have happened since those days…

Tea was never far away, and so, a couple of years later, when I fell as hard in love with clay, I was quite sure what I wanted to create: Teaware, of course! But even when you are sure what you want to do, it does not mean that you know how to go about it. To briefly summarize it: When I sat with clay for the first time, my aim was to give it a try and make a teapot. Twenty years later, I am still learning how to make that happen! In other words, I was naïve, but thanks to good teachers and a great deal of good karma, I stayed with Tea and clay for all these years. Now I think I know a little bit of what I am doing.

I like to think of myself as a rational, grounded person, but behind most of all the good things in my life, there are intuitive decisions that seem more spiritual. Is there a rational, intellectual reason why I have practiced tea for all this time? Yes, surely there is: She does me good and serves me right. But in all honesty, I feel that this rationale alone would not have sustained my interest in Her for so long. The attraction is subtler, playing with other parts of my heart and not just the intellectual side of life.

Back when I was little, there were fragrances of flowers and trees that were triggers for my imagination. Even now, when I put my nose deep in some wild flowers, it opens a particular internal landscape—emotions, images and so on. And from the start, I have had that same “thing” with Tea, more so than with any other plant. In the beginning, it was very often romantic. I remember the first sencha I drank: I became a samurai sitting on freshly cut grass. With my first shou puerh brick, I was hearing a throat-singing Tibetan monk. And those giant mountains in a flash came from Nepal with my first sip!

Later, I started to explore tea as much as possible, slowly becoming geekier than is probably healthy. I was trying to understand the history and processing of all kinds of teas I was meeting along the way. Tea is so deep, you can spend a few lifetimes trying unsuccessfully to become an expert. But when this “need to know” motion fades away, it leaves a space for more subtle growth.

When my first issue of Global Tea Hut was given to me by a dear friend, it was just a few black and white pages. A bit funny, but, hey—it was about Tea! And about Tea from a different perspective than I’d seen before: Dao and community. Is that not why I actually fell in love with Her in the first place? But who is that funny bearded American behind this? Four years later, and fifty magazines down the road, I am thankful for my intuition and for keeping my mind open, which has offered me the chance and honor to be a part of this growing, living community! I’ve learned so many things since, and so much has been given to me via Global Tea Hut. Tea keeps enriching my life and making me a better person.

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July 2017, Shiva Rose, USA

I must say the truth about my very first meeting with Tea is not romantic and poetic at all. In fact, the first time I sat in a tea meditation, I became agitated, frustrated and annoyed. It was four years ago and my dear sister Tian Wu had invited me to her Venice abode for a ceremony. My monkey mind was wrestling with my spirit, not unlike a crocodile in a muddy swamp trying to swallow a dove. That day, the crocodile ate the dove in one gulp. I decided I wouldn’t be sitting for “tea” again any time soon… Until one month later, when there was an event at my home where Tian Wu was serving again. This time, however, the dove flew towards the divine light of Tea and made the crocodile docile and tame. This time, my spirit was stronger than my ego monkey mind, and it began to respond and listen. This time I sat, I became quiet and allowed the tears to stream down into pools of lost resistance unto my lap. This time, the thought that swirled in my mind, as the steam from my cup swirled unto my wet face was, “Ahhh, you are safe.

You are home.” This time, I didn’t feel the defenses of loneliness. I felt a kinship with Tea, a kinship with the people I was drinking with and a kinship with spirit. You see, for me, who has the nature of a hummingbird, being still is a luxury. I care for many creatures, and have many responsibilities. To have permission to be still, to rest my mind, to be nourished by Tea without having to give anything back—this all seemed so foreign. I now have come to see that being still and simply receiving is what I needed to learn. This is also about accepting our feminine nature, since the feminine is about being present, open and receptive.

Tea has now become a way of life for me. I remember Tian once told me that tea is an adaptogen and can relate to us in whatever way we need. This is the way I see Her now. Pouring water unto the leaves and seeing them unfurl can lead to whatever medicine I need in that moment: A fatherly nudge that may be the paternal strength I crave; a maternal, gentle softness that’s carried on the wind as I am brewing the tea; a childlike wonder at the sounds of crickets, birds and frogs that seem to get louder and louder with every cup; seeing the greenness around me become greener, more vivid, more awake with every sip; feeling an opening where I can handle more of what life offers me—the good, the bad and the challenging—my container expanding as my heart and spirit expands.
On this life-changing trip to China with Global Tea Hut, I remember Wu De saying. The smaller the doubt the smaller the awakening, the larger the doubt the larger the awakening. I am grateful now for having that large doubt when I first began. I had to earn this relationship with Tea and with my deepening practice. I am forever grateful to Tian Wu and Wu De for creating these spaces for us to gently grow.

Part of this great awakening is connecting with the beautiful spirits around the world that share this practice. Knowing we are all connected through Tea makes this a shared practice. This global community is truly magical, leading to so many life-changing encounters, tea sessions and new friendships. In this practice, we are witnesses to the beauty that unfolds in us. In this way we are kin. In this way we are a family—always, even when miles are between us. This community and these bowls of tea help to close the gaps, bringing us all together every month. I will look for you in these bowls and cups we share!

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June 2017, Lee Ann Hilbrich, USA

In 2016, I rediscovered Tea. It was a pivotal year for me, as I started my own business as a holistic psychotherapist and creative artist. I turned to Tea to help me learn to take breaks and care for myself while I was dealing with the stressors of being a new entrepreneur. It became a special self-care ritual for me to use an expensive cast iron tea set I purchased many years ago but never used, along with my old supply of loose-leaf tea. It turns out that Tea was always waiting for me, but it took me slowing down to remember its value and importance. I also began an unexpected journey of listening to, reconnecting with, and feeding my soul. Even though I was clueless as to the history and spirit of Tea that has been moving people throughout history, my wise soul knew just what it was doing as it was calling me to move closer to Tea.

The story of how I found Global Tea Hut, or it found me, is interesting. I follow Rich Roll on social media, and was very inspired by his morning ritual of tea and meditation. When Rich shared in his weekly newsletter that he gets his tea from Living Tea, I knew immediately where I would be ordering tea from when I finished up my current supply. I went to the Living Tea website and while I was ordering, I discovered a link to tea art for sale and an online tea magazine. I was inspired and moved by the soulful and wise images I saw and words I read. I used a quote from someone named Wu De for my own weekly newsletter, as I happened to be preparing an email on tea and mediation as part of a meditation mindfulness series. I also tried to purchase a piece of his art, only to find out, with his kind reply, that I was on an old site and all of the art there was sold. My order from Living Tea arrived shortly, and in it was a card and note about the Global Tea Hut. I was intrigued. I love discovering things (I even named my business “Daring Discoveries”), and I have tried several other monthly box subscriptions, so I knew I wanted to try this Global Tea Hut. What I didn’t know was that this wasn’t an ordinary monthly subscription. I was so inspired by the artistic quality of the magazine and the articles, poems and information shared in it. I felt connected and thankful for all the sensitive souls in the Hut who supported those taking care of the world with fair-trade, chemical-free tea. I was so grateful for the warm and welcoming environment of the Global Tea Hut. I felt inspired to learn more and grow in my experience of the way of Tea, but in no way felt that I had to have all the right equipment or knowledge. I sensed so much permission to begin exactly where I was, which was the beginning, as I was about to experience my first-ever bowl tea. Nothing would ever be the same again.

I worried at first when making the bowl tea if the water was hot enough or if I had too many or too few leaves. But then I recalled Wu De had recommended in the magazine using your intuition for brewing Elevation, and I felt a sense of relief come over me. And as soon as I had that first bowl, I knew it was all going to be alright. This experience was not about being perfect or having the right things, it was about being open to what the tea has to give you. This was another way that I could pay more attention in my life and create beauty. I still don’t have a gongfu or side-handle pot, and the only runner I have is the one sent with my December shipment, but that is okay. In time, I will add equipment and I will not rush this adventure with Tea. I feel lucky to be on the path and I will trust in the timing and look forward to where Her spirit leads me. Being a part of this Global Tea Hut is truly an experience, and I’ve had so much fun creating art to go along with each monthly shipment. I’m sure seeing Wu De’s art subconsciously inspired me to create my own tea art, even though I hadn’t planned on doing it. I’m just listening to my soul, and letting tea work Her magic in my life.

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May 2017, Lauren Stern, USA

It began when I was a little girl in the 1980s. My father returned home from a trip to Asia with a tea set (one I still have!). A few nights later he shared with us what he experienced, what was to become my first of many Tea Ceremonies to come. I remember our family sitting in silence, in glowing candlelight, huddled around a small kitchen table in our apartment on the Upper West Side in New York City. The ritual, the ceremony, the gestures, the meaning—it was an island in time, and I was floating in a cloud canopy, high above the concrete jungle I called home. It reached such a deep part of my little heart, and I am constantly grateful for my parents’ desire to seek out meaningful ways to invite the holy and sacred into our home, and inspire us to do so in our own ways as my sister and I grew. A few years later, at the age of thirteen, Shunryu Suzuki’s book, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, fell into my hands at a bookshop. I immediately understood that something very profound had been awakened and would continue to awaken in me.

Tea. I see how She has woven into and out of my experience over the years. How even when I have forgotten Her, She has remembered me, returned to me. An invitation like an ancient song, never asking from me more than I was willing or ready to offer. I have had to grow into what it means to be in a right relationship with Her, and learn more each day. This love has been an intricate re-weaving, a slow remembering, a willing unfurling into a deeply rooted unknown becoming. Over the years, opportunities to sit with and drink fine living Tea kept showing up. Each time I reached out to grab a hold of Her, doors closed, information would become scattered or hidden, and She would run a bit farther out of reach. About a year ago, I completely surrendered to Her. I stopped running after Her and instead, I built a real space for Her in my life and home, and I invited Her in. In this slow way, with this kind of careful approach and patient, loving courting, over time, things began to change.

With each sip I hear Her whisper, “What does she wish to become?” It is as though together, we are in the process of returning, of remembering, of discovering what we are made of and why we are here. Each day choosing how we will walk upon this Dear Earth and how we will treat each one we cross paths with. She reminds me to be light, to share more than I think I am capable of sharing, to love more than I think I am capable of loving. To embody that love. Oh, there are so many gifts! I have only just recently, while drinking tea, remembered the details of my first assignment as a first-year undergraduate student in architecture school—a tea bowl. How perfect, my introduction to architecture, to creating space, was in fact about learning to make space for Tea. And, how my true return to Tea was through building a Home for her. That is some deep-deep right there! After a twelve-year break from the world of architecture, I am finding my way back, to start work on a tea and bath house project. I know this beautiful return is because of Her, and Her gentle way of reminding. Her lessons practically, majestically and magically unfold, blossoming in ways I shall never hope to secure words for, as some words are best left dancing somewhere wild, unknown, and in between.

One of the biggest gifts She has given me is the opportunity to be a part of this Global Tea Hut community. The integrity and dedication to heart-path that this lineage led by Wu De holds is a rare and exceptional offering. Creating space for and witnessing others first encounter Her in this sacred and intentional Way lifts my heart each and every time. Since my stay at the Tea Sage Hut in February, I have been changed, and I am even more inspired to grow my capacity for loving, sharing and serving tea. I am so grateful for the life-long friends I have made and have yet to meet within this grace-filled Tea community. I am currently in the process of moving back East, but when I land on some land, you, dear friend, are welcome by my fire to share tea anytime.

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April 2017, Kaelen Ohm, Canada

I don’t know how to find the words that will suffice to say how Tea came into my life, how She welcomed me without judgment, held me in Her arms, rocked me as I cried, filled my broken heart with joy, love and forgiveness and then began to speak through me with a calmness and steadiness I had never known. How do I describe the great emptying that occurred within me? How all that I had grown to know and understand about myself evaporated like the ocean into the sky, then poured down with greater understanding, more love, more forgiveness and then evaporated once more?

She came into my life at just the right time, just as I was ready and more than ever in need of a healer and teacher. She came at a time when I had the time. She came to me through the right woman, in the right living room on exactly the right day and hour. Steam rose up with a curl of aloeswood smoke as the sun peeked through the window and glimmered through the haze. Cup after cup of a grounded calm washed over me—a sense I had searched for, unsuccessfully, for a very long time. The impatient child within wanted all the answers at once. How could I have this? How could I, as quickly as possible, find this tea, this teaware and drink tea like this every day? I asked my host, trying to contain my sense of urgency: how? She gracefully and almost silently handed me a Global Tea Hut card. I wanted to ask, “but where are these cups from? This pot? How about the tea?” I took the card home with me and reflected on the experience I’d just had. A message came: “Go slow. If this is for you, you’ll know in time.” And against my habitual and impatient self, I did.

Almost two years later I am here now, with so much gratitude to be connected to you all through this incredible medicine. I know there are so many ways that Her magic affects us all. Whether it’s how She unfurls our hearts as She does Her leaves or allows us to be more grateful for the moon or fresh water in which to swim, She is a bearer of beauty and allows us all to be more present to Great Nature and the bounty of gifts our Mother Earth provides.

I’m grateful for the profound silence I’ve shared with so many brothers and sisters over Tea. As Master Tsai said during my recent journey to Tea Sage Hut, “I speak too much. I must let the Tea speak now.” There is a wild truth to this and it has taught me the power and importance of being present and allowing Tea to speak between souls. Suddenly, the first words you share become something far deeper than a usual first meeting.

In a way Tea has become a place, like a photo book, for beautiful memories in my life. I love to reflect on a welcoming smile from a host or tears in the eyes of a guest. I love remembering how, after serving tea to my family last summer, my aunt was inspired to move through her Tai Qi form at the edge of the lake, after many months of stagnant practice. Songs have been written and stories told, myself as a vessel for Her to express. Her inspiration is endless and the greatest lesson I have learned is that there is no end nor arrival of any kind. She has humbled me to understand that this practice is a process, as am I and all beings and that to be full is only an opportunity to empty once more and begin again.

I could go on and on. But I will leave in saying thank you to Wu De and the whole family at Global Tea Hut for working so tirelessly to keep the fountain of Tea knowledge flowing for us all. Thank you to all of you for sharing your love for the Leaf on the crazy platform of cyberspace we have. If you ever make your way to Toronto, Canada, my door is wide open and a bowl will be waiting for you.

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March 2017, Elina Naan, Estonia

It is very common these days for people to forget about their dreams. Life takes over and suddenly you realize that the life you are living isn’t very lively and maybe hasn’t been for a while... Well, that’s what happened to me.

But when 2012 arrived, everything changed within a minute. And I mean everything (and really within one minute). The way I felt in my own skin, the way I saw the world and even the way the world saw me, all changed. I was suddenly happy and free. I was myself. But the journey had just begun, and there was still a lot to sort out. Since you are reading this, I’m sure you all know what the catalyst for this change was.

One day when I walked into the local teashop to buy bowls for my friend, I stayed there for a while, chatting. When I was leaving, I heard they were looking for a little extra help in the shop. I offered myself. At that time, I had been working as a director at the Estonian National Television for seven years, and it was quite bizarre for me to go work in a teashop. Instead of giving orders, I was of service at the shop and studying the Leaf. It was a transition, and has been a deep journey in getting to know myself. I want to share my love and gratitude to Steve Kokker, who has opened the tea-door to so many of us here in Estonia.

It is almost impossible to put into words how much Tea has taught me. For me, She is the most honest and greatest of teachers. She is so uplifting, gentle and safe medicine. At the same time, She’s selflessly sincere, deep, humble and open. Tea knows the way from heart to heart and I’m so thankful that I have chosen this time and space to learn from Her, by serving.

I have been holding weekly tea gatherings in Tallinn and all around Estonia since 2013. Feminine circles are close to my heart. Tea, with all the elements, brings so much comfort and unites people who have chosen to sit together. Every time I raise a bowl, I am amazed at how this sacred liquid knows all the little cracks and crevices that we have inside us, and gently fills us with wisdom and insights, and deep affections, while bringing us back to our center. And while holding the circle-bowl, you can feel how, even in silence (or especially when in silence) we become one—one love.

Does this sound too esoteric or a little peculiar? I would guess not to you, because you have felt the same and that’s why you love the Way of Tea—even if you use different words to express the sentiments of a tea ceremony. It might sound too easy or maybe too impossible to some people, but that is why I feel it is important to really change the world bowl by bowl (this expression is golden), because the world is changing bowl by bowl. I am so thankful and happy to be a part of this tea family and part of this world we are living in—serving tea, learning, growing, trusting this journey of ours and loving every moment of it…

If you feel like getting to know a bit more of my doings, you may take a look at my website. And, of course, when coming to Estonia, please join me for a bowl of tea.

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February 2017, Maxim Ulasevich, Russia

I ’m 27 and I live in Lipetsk, Russia. Several years ago, my life changed. Strange as it sounds, I saw a movie which inspired me to move in a completely different direction. I changed my lifestyle dramatically, giving up bad habits and turning to healthy living. And a couple of days later, Tea came into my life. It wouldn’t be a lie to say that Tea sprang into my life. China, and its traditions and tea, engulfed me. But somehow I realized that my perception of Tea wasn’t the one I desired.

By that time I had already started a blog where I described my feelings about different teas. I enjoyed every moment: taking photos of the leaves, describing them, breathing in the aroma and pouring the tea liquor into cups and tasting the incredibly rich flavor. However, I realized that there was something behind the taste, something deeper.

In carrying out research on the Internet, I came across a photo of a girl who had a beautiful floral tea cloth instead of the common tea sink everyone in Russia uses. She also wasn’t using a pitcher, nor numerous statuettes—everything was so simple, minimalistic, but deep, beautiful and warming. So I made a decision to write her a message. Her name was Raneta. She started to answer my questions, in a calm and concise way. I learned a lot from her. I was turned upside down (metaphorically, of course). I realized that I’d touched something real, animate, and true. That’s how I met the tradition of the Hut.

I was glad to find out that there are many of Wu De’s students in Russia, and each of them was eager to share their knowledge with me, helping me make my first steps. It was as if I’d stepped onto a new, beautiful, but demanding path.
Some time later, I went to Moscow to meet Ming Hui, and he hospitably served me Sun Moon Lake Elevation in bowls. I will never forget that: the stillness, leaves, water, bowl—magic. That night, I couldn’t sleep because of everything Denis had told me about this tradition, the Center, etc. He also gave me a couple pieces of “homework” and I was a diligent student. (I am a teacher of math at a public school, so I know how important it is to do homework!)

Some time passed and the idea of sharing tea with my friends in Lipetsk started steeping in me, so I wrote a note in my blog announcing a tea ceremony and it resonated with others here. I worried, as it was the very first time I’d done something like this. It took me a lot of time to prepare for the ceremony. I thought about what I would say after the ceremony. I even wrote a speech. But when people came and took their places, I meditated a second before starting to brew and I fell into a stream which guided me through the whole ceremony. And so I understood that Tea is always ready to help each and every one of us. The only thing you needed to do is open your heart to Her. Since then, I have started to serve tea every week. And now we have a small but solid tea community in Lipetsk.

Tea for me is something deeper than just a plant. It is a whole philosophy, a way of life. Each session is precious. And I see Tea working in people’s lives. At every session, I try to tell people that sustainable tea is extremely important for us tea lovers. I feel so happy that there are people in my hometown who now share this opinion.

I feel like I’m at the very beginning of a great, interesting and incredibly warm journey. It is truly wonderful that walking this path I’ve met such outstanding people who are willing to serve with all their heart, and to support and show the way to beginners like me. Right now I am going to put several leaves of white tea into a teapot and serve it to my daughter. May her Way also begin with living tea!

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January 2017, Mara Gedrovica, Latvia

I grew up in the countryside of Latvia, waking up with the sun, playing in Nature all day long and eating vegetables and fruits picked straight from the garden. My everyday life was natural and carefree. My mother and grandmother would collect herbs over the summer, in a loving and very respectful way, dry them and store them for the winter. They knew that living in harmony with Nature would help them keep their family healthy.

We moved to the city when I was a teenager. I found it difficult to adapt, but I soon learned to survive, enjoying all the comforts the colorful commercials on television offered. Then, in my twenties, I often felt there was something missing from my life. I experienced the days passing too fast, and every night before falling asleep I would ask myself, “Is this it? Is this how my life will pass by?” I often felt scared and anxious at this prospect. In my twenties, I also knew that this feeling of something missing, and of time passing too quickly, was related to my busy lifestyle and being away from the Nature that had surrounded me when I was a child. I now know I was searching for spirituality.

This went on, and my life continued to fly by too fast for my liking. I became a chef and opened a small café in Ireland, where I’d moved. We serve raw and baked cakes, coffee, tea and offer a nice place for gathering and socializing. Though life was fine on the outside, I was still searching, but I didn’t even know what I was looking for.

Then, one day, I came across a photo online: A beautiful picture of a tea ceremony. It shocked me. It felt right; it felt peaceful and serene. This was what I had been looking for! This was the feeling I had taken for granted as a little girl, and then lost once I moved to the city. Somehow, the photo was like looking through the ceremony into my own soul. In fact, I felt like I was standing outside myself looking in. I instantly started to look for more information about tea ceremonies and the people in the picture. And that’s how I discovered this Global Tea Hut! I immediately contacted the Center, and, believe it or not, the very next day I booked a ticket to Taiwan!

Visiting Tea Sage Hut changed my life. This is where I really met Tea. I felt at home right away. (I’ve heard this from tons of other guests as well.) Every moment spent at the Center was a blessing. There were so many lessons to learn, so much love to share, and, of course, so much tea! There is so much about staying at the Center that is beyond description. All I can say is to make the leap and go. The journey is amazing, Taiwan is wonderful and the spirit and hospitality at the Center re-aligned me with my spirit, my heart and practice and with the Nature I’d been unknowingly looking for since I was young.

Returning home, I sat with tea every morning and just listened. Soon after, I started to share tea with my family and friends and noticed how quickly people fell in love with Her and the ceremonial space. Every ceremony is always very special and heartwarming. Tea is teaching me to share, accept, be still and be myself. More importantly, She is teaching me to listen. Discipline is another quality I was always looking to improve in myself, and I am happy to tell you that I feel Her gently helping me to cultivate focus and discipline in my daily life.

I’m so thankful for every moment spent with Tea, for getting to know this beautiful community and for the opportunity to learn and share. If you are ever in Galway, Ireland, know that I will be more than happy to share some Tea with you.

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December 2016, Kevin Hartwell, Canada

In 2008, in an old-growth forest on the remote mid-coast of British Columbia, Canada, I was working as a fish technician for a forestry company when I had an awakening to follow a path in the healing arts. My supervisor asked that I help hang “falling boundary” ribbons around 1000-year-old cedar trees. While standing next to one of the giant cedars, a sudden realization went straight to the core of my Being and I knew I needed to do two things with my life: to help and to heal.

A short while later, through a Native American sweat lodge ceremony, I was introduced to a lifelong friend, reiki teacher and shaman, along with a 180-degree change in employment—working with the handicapped. Next came my introduction to Lao Tzu’s water tradition of energy arts and tea soon followed. However, I had no idea that people had been using tea to support meditation and other cultivation arts like Taiji and Qigong for thousands of years; I just knew I liked it.

Over several years I’ve learned Daoist meditation methods, which have been beneficial and very practical. But even so, I have never felt personally that I was able to embody the deeper aspects and techniques that are known to “thin the veil,” as it were. Saying that, I’ve never had a live meditation teacher to transmit those teachings to me, which may not be essential, but is no doubt ideal. Furthermore, hearing/reading about people’s experiences with different plant medicines was inspiring, but I lacked my own personal connection to any of them. At first, the very idea of a plant as a teacher just didn’t feel right—until Tea, of course.

About a year ago, I came across our Global Tea Hut brother Po Rosenberg’s interview in a Daoist magazine and what I read resonated very deeply. This summer, I found myself on the road to the Oregon coast to visit him. My experience there left me feeling like I had just drunk tea for the first time. It opened me up in so many ways, probably most profoundly to the fact that tea heals on all levels.

Whenever I drink tea on the go, at work or in the car or casually or while writing this, of course, it is good. It has a way of doing what it does for me in the moment. But I’ve noticed a stark contrast when I sit with the intention of connecting with Tea or make offerings to Tea Herself, and welcome Her healing wisdom into my mind, body, and spirit. She works much more deeply when I show up with the right intention. Getting up at 5am to meditate is not only easier with tea but I look forward to it! Using good clean tea in self-cultivation, especially while out in Nature, is my passion.

Another realization for me is how tea “drops you into the Dao” while drinking it. And afterwards, Her wisdom is still with you. Since drinking tea this way regularly, I’ve noticed a shift that I can confidently accredit to tea, causing an overall, consistent, lasting and fundamental change in my awareness and my feeling of being connected with everything.

Tea truly does bring people together. I’ve recently began serving tea in my house weekly and found not only that I have met new friends, but that the connections I’ve made are more meaningful and with a substance and depth that I find rare in casual interactions. By sharing tea and teaching Qigong with my community here in Kimberley, BC and eventually doing so in natural settings as well, I will be assisting in bringing people closer to their nature. I hope to thereby fulfill my mission “to help and to heal.”
I am so grateful to all my teachers and friends past, present and future, to the Global Tea Hut community for sharing so much tea wisdom and fellowship with me throughout my tea journey, and, of course, to Tea for all the changes She brought to my life. If you find yourself in British Columbia let’s share some tea! I am always happy to meet tea lovers.

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November 2016, MJ Greenmountain, USA

On a balmy day in February of 1997, caught between cicadas, crickets and Hawaiian breezes, I found myself awestruck in a friend’s lava-rock Zen garden as he quietly poured a dark, loamy shou puerh from a Purple-sand teapot into two tiny cups. I sat upright, mute, motionless and transfixed. He had poured tea for me a couple of times before, yet this time it was different. Time stood still, and every cell of my being said: “Take heed, something huge is happening.” We raised our cups to the sky, and drank. Then he laughed, delighted by my utterly stunned face. I’d been kidnapped by a leaf. “I need this in my life,” I said reflexively. From that moment on, Tea became an essential part of my daily meditation practice.

From early on, I maintained my own “Traveler’s Tearoom”: fresh spring water, puerh, an Yixing pot and old porcelain cups (packed with tea towels inside a clean camping kettle), a small wooden tray, a thermos, a camp stove, a quartz crystal, and a folding grass mat—all to facilitate tea anywhere, anytime.

In 2001, I met the “Old Man,” my first tea-cher. He’s well versed in all the traditional tea arts: gongfu, chanoyu, ceramics, incense, history, poetry, and so on. He’d whip out little folded pieces of paper with treasure-poems, antique “scholar’s pieces” and mesmerizing tea, intermittent with razor-sharp remonstrations and sucker punches right to the old ego. The time we spent left an indelible mark on my life, though I never expected the extent of divine gifts Tea would be bring into my life.

Indeed, many years after that, sitting in my Traveler’s Tearoom under a giant tree in the wilds of New Zealand, a Japanese woman and I dropped in deeply over many hours and countless cups of puerh. It was “love at first sip.” Tea has since become the hub of our shared daily life; and six years of marriage and two young kids later, it’s now a daily family affair.

As destiny would have it, our first time traveling together to Taiwan, my wife and I met Wu De, who had spontaneously offered to fetch us from the airport in Taipei. We were touched by his humble generosity.

After our first tea session together, which also happened to be on my birthday, Wu floated a simple yet piercing question my way: “Why not adopt a vegetarian diet, and seriously upgrade your tea practice?” And boom—like a lightning strike, the epiphany came. Instant change occurred. That was the initiation of our yearly visits to the Tea Sage Hut, and the blossoming of a serious love for Taiwanese tea culture.

Just this past summer, my family moved to a new home on a spacious breathtaking property, overtly styled like a Japanese country estate, in a park-like setting, complete with pond and gushing stream. These day, I host people of all kinds—local folks, elders, high-schoolers, gang-bangers, foreign tourists, bikers, hippies, tech geeks, the Republican Hair-do Clan—all somehow showing up with interest in discovering Tea, whether they knew it or not. The depth of gratitude we feel for this mysterious and wise Leaf is just unfathomable. The more one dives into tea, the more profound life becomes. And then this practice starts changing the lives of those around us as well, which is real magic.

A few months back, I routed my music tour to pay a surprise visit to the “Old Man” who introduced me to Tea after not seeing him for five years. I laid out my grass mat beneath a redwood tree just outside his reclusive door. “Oh, you found my tea room. I’ve been looking for it!” he said. Pushing back tears, I quietly prepared tea for him, as he beamed his sweet, toothless, octogenarian smile, and kept sighing, “perfect, just perfect.” This time, no criticisms ensued. The tea was enough.

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October 2016, Raneta Kulakova, Russia

Tea found me more than ten years ago in Siberia. There I lived in a small city located along the Great Tea Road. For those of you who do not know, this was a historic caravan route by which tea was traded from China to Europe between the 17th and 19th centuries. The region is steeped in tea history and the seeds of her influence were all around me. In fact, I grew up participating in a tea club. I remember even in the very beginning being fascinated by the beautiful and diverse shapes of leaves, the mysterious Chinese names and silent attention that appeared when someone started brewing tea. While tea was always present at these gatherings, often She was only one actor on the stage. People talked, watched movies or enjoyed music while they drank tea. Here I met Tea in her form as the “Great Connector,” bringing together human hearts and minds and helping them to open towards each other.

After I moved cities, I began to drink tea alone for a long period of time. I was like a hermit in a cave. Here I met tea in a different form. Slowly and gently she would change my state of mind. She showed me her ability to clear my mind and heart to the deepest roots, unlocking the bottomless wellspring inside. She taught me to rest in the nature of my mind and listen to the space between drops, between breaths.

I would sometimes leave my cave and venture outside to meet other tea lovers. That was how I met Wu De. We first met in Siberia. Then, a year or two later, as he boiled tea in the attic of cute hostel in the center of Moscow, his words brought tears to my eyes. His message and relationship to tea, Nature and the Earth resonated so strongly inside of me, I knew that this was the beginning of a new period of my life. There I met my tea family. And that tea session changed everything in a gentle but complete way.

Around this time, I made a tea runner, or chabu, as a gift for a friend and was very surprised that all of my other tea friends started asking for similar things! That is how “Care for Teaware” started. It was a project dedicated to consciously creating the small details required for a life of tea, including protection for teaware! Teapots and bowls are our instruments; without them we could not do what we love—serve tea! We all have beautiful teaware we love, and want to take care of the things we love. We want future tea lovers to be able to use our teaware and pass these instruments on so that they can continue to play long after we have gone. I wanted to help make convenient and beautiful bags for teapots, cups, bowls, tetsubins and other tea instruments so Chajin all over the world could share and protect their teaware. I make things from a sincere desire to protect priceless Yixing teapots, antique cups, bowls and all teaware. Care and reverence is fundamental to both Cha Dao and life. The more we honor what we have, the longer it serves us and the more we can serve with it! If we care for our teaware, we can use it for many years and drink countless cups of fine tea with friends. Later, we can pass our treasures on to the future generation of tea lovers. Our care then extends beyond our lifetime. Anyone with an old teapot knows they only have it because someone else kept it safe. We have this same honor and responsibility.

Since our first meeting, tea has become a primary part of my life. Drinking her alone and serving her to people helped me change my life. It has brought awareness, equanimity and love into each thought that passes through my mind. She is always here, patiently waiting for you to come and sit with her. She is generous and giving, teaching us to work for others and share the treasures we find on our way. She is healing. She connects us to ourselves, to others and to Nature. So if you want to change your life, take a bowl and add some leaves and hot water...

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September 2016, Caitlin Mercado, USA

She came to me (in her ceremonial form) almost three years ago in a warm desert tipi amongst women who had gathered from all over the world to connect in subtle, ancestral and spiritual ways. Inside this desert tipi sat our beloved tea sister Tian Wu, in service. The space was dressed with much aestheticism, a tangible representation of the reverence held for what was to occur. Why would something so simple be dressed so beautifully? We silently settled into our cushions gathered around the chaxi listening to the hum of the kettles. Tian served the liquor with so much transparency and ease, as if she too had evaporated with the steam from our bowls. We were completely mesmerized by the leaf and its company of beautiful accoutrements; all elements together as one to become the gift of plant medicine lovingly gazing back at you from a bowl.
As we sipped bowl after bowl, you could feel a presence of serenity fill the tent. Some sat with smiles on their faces and eyes softly closed, others poised and stoic, and then some, like myself, with dewy tears on their cheeks. To witness Her becoming in that ceremony triggered something deep within the center of my being. A remembrance as if I had been in that seat before... I left that tipi with a heart reaching for more.

After that first experience with Tea in this new and profound way, I joined Global Tea Hut eager to learn more about all Her shapes and forms and how she’s touched others the way She touched me that early desert morning. My first visit to the Tea Sage Hut came in the months following. And I have been fortunate to have just spent a month at the Center with the tea brothers who so lovingly surrender to serve and care for the Hut and its guests and generously share in the Tea Way. Hugging them was easy.

Tea, as I’m sure it did for many of you, arrived at a fortuitous time for me. After an imperceptible slowing in my yoga practice and experiencing realizations about my intentions behind “practice,” I think I had been consciously/subconsciously seeking a new path. And what was this? Tea as the most beautiful conduit for meditation. Of the earth and for the earth. Tea began to fill all spaces in which I would normally be mindless... I wanted to know Her more, connect more deeply with her and by doing so connect more deeply with the earth beneath my feet. What I love most about tea is how every person served, no matter their practice, is receptive to Her meditative properties. We all experience this longing of connection to the Earth, to each other and to ourselves. And She stimulates this so well within us. As time passed and I developed a more intimate practice with Tea, I found Her as a deeply healing sister/mother/friend in whom I was able to take refuge in during life’s worldly challenges. A space to be held in Her warm embrace.

When I was asked to be wayfarer, I was more than a bit nervous... How could I possibly put to words the gifts She has given me? And to do so with an eloquence so worthy of Her beauty? Many have already done so long before me. But I suppose the only true way to know is to sit and let the leaves show you. Just as Her leaves open to unfurl within the earthenware, let that happen within yourself. Let Her sweep you off your feet.

I am currently in San Diego but will travel for tea! If you ever find yourself in Southern California, I would love to meet any fellow tea brothers and sisters. May all cups be filled with the leaves of loving kindness!

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August 2016, Brandon Boyd, USA

Technology, like an exoskeleton, sits in plain view on our persons; an extension of ourselves, but varying in degrees of usefulness and or obsolescence depending on who's metaphorical horns we are talking about. I’ve spent most of my life juggling my relationship with Technology; both wary of it and grateful for it, a bit like a coin toss but wherein me, the user, can decide more often than not which side I’d like the shiny alloy to land. Do I take the antibiotic for this cough, or should I ride this one out and power up on the vitamin C and rest a lot? Should I turn on the air conditioning today or maybe just open the doors and let the outside in? Should I use my laser shooter to stop the two headed reptilian beast barreling towards me or just karate chop his ass and call it a day? Shall I check my phone to see what has appeared in my Instagram feed in the past twenty minutes or maybe read that book that’s been staring at me for the past six months? This last decision is perhaps one of the more perilous ones that we are faced with of late. Not in the specific case of that particular social media outlet, but when confronted by that two faced Janus we all both love to love and hasten to hate…the Internet. (Cue Darth Vadar’s ‘Imperial March’ music!)

The Internet has provided a new kind of dilemma when speaking on the notion of technology. This isn’t the first of it’s kind to rewire our brains, but it is the most convincing of its kind, as an “Intellectual Technology” and is pointing us due south into nothing short of addictive behaviors. Yep. Dammit.

The internet giveth and the internet taketh away.

I am the ripe age of 40; young enough to have processing space for tech developments, wherein I can embrace new shiny modes of transport, but old enough to recall a time when there was space to be bored. I feel almost blessed in a way to have lived half of my life unplugged and half (so far) with three prongs into the grid. In other words, I know what I am missing when I spend too much time on either end of the spectrum. Or to put it another way still, I like to strike a balance between being tuned in and knowingly tuned out. And I know you, reader, know where I am heading with this, being the tea faring crowd. But bear with me a touch longer, and I promise I’ll get to the leaf of the matter. If there is one…

“A lot is at stake in Attention. Where we put it is not only how we decide what we will learn, it is how we show what we value.”
-Sherry Turkle (pg 160) ’Reclaiming Conversation’

Tea came into my life at an amazingly opportune moment, as I am sure it did for most of you. Like a gentle gust of serendipity, it’s simple yet sturdy song crept into my world right at a time when I had begun taking meditation more seriously. I had made the decision to do so because I was starting to get the sense that certain elements of my inner experience were beginning to (or perhaps I was just noticing them) fragment. For want of a better term. My attentions seemed to be starting to structure a little too much like the way the Internet was structured. Like a web, but not the kind we imagine right away, backlit in morning sun with supple drops of dew glistening on the silk. No, my attentions were more akin to the web you find behind the garage or under the house; erratic and formless, leaving one wondering if they'd even want to encounter who or what designed it.

Tea took its time to really penetrate my daily routine though. I would banter with it and enjoyed our talks and our silences, but I was slow to dive deeper. I felt like the extended family around me had that covered. The vast and swift enthusiasm for this new friend almost brought an inner contrarian out of me. Like the band that all your friends are raving about that you rolled your eyes at until the moment you got them to yourself on a long drive and finally “got it”, Tea eventually sang to me in a way that I desperately needed. And after years of enjoying the ritual, the fine craftsmanship, the history, the stories, the conversations, the silence, and yes, the divine flavors, I have come to realize this morning that Tea has almost proved itself a psychic avatar or sorts, arriving precisely at the moment when it was needed most. When I was alarmingly close to falling into that cob web, soon to be cocooned into an inescapable melange of blogs, opinions, weather reports, and cat videos. Though that last distraction, I’ll defend to the death. Once Tea did have it’s soft claws in me though, I began noticing how my other friend, the Internet, kept tugging my attentions away from hot water and leaves. My want to check my phone became a little like a phantom menace of sorts. And I started to feel the way that friends who were trying to quit smoking had described to me. I was tethered in a sense, and the cord was widening, stronger with each tug. So, here was something quietly and successfully drawing neural maps alongside something that was gracefully and slowly making maps of its own. One leading me into presence and mindfulness, one fragmenting my attentions and making it harder and harder to remain present. But what does a lad do when the problem also offers so much hope of connectivity? Practice, young Jedi. Practice. Practice mindfulness, attention, presence. Practice using the technology more constructively and less as a mechanism for idling. For “idle hands are the Devil’s workshop…”, or so they say. I actually just chuckled at myself that a Bible verse crept its way into my spiel. But now that we are speaking about the Divine, I may as well mention that in my experience, Presence, Attentiveness, and Clarity are the closest I’ve felt to God. Or to my experience of It, I should say. I’m not a religious person and I’d even go as far as to say that my ideas of God don't fit neatly into any section of the bookshelf just yet. I’m inspired to draw my own maps herein, and practicing Presence and Attentiveness has been the best way for me to do so. Music is born of silence in my experience. Which has a pang of irony being that it requires so much noise to arrive at an end result with song craft. All that big said, I have had some of my proudest moments as a songwriter in the presence of Tea and Silence.

So, Brandon, what’s your point? Well, whoever you are that just asked that question, I’m not sure I have one. Other than I find our plight technologically speaking quite fascinating as it pertains to our Culture. We seem to be at an interesting crossroads where that proverbial collective exoskeleton could engulf us completely, leaving us as something akin to a creature H.R. Giger might dream up. Perhaps worse, or maybe nothing that bad at all, just different than we know. Once again I don't know and won’t claim to. But I will say that much can be learned from the past. It seems almost axiomatic to assume that because something is new that it is better. I know the tendency to want to believe that as well as anyone. But this isn't always the case. Sometimes, echoes from the past arrive at wonderfully opportune moments in the most unexpected places to remind us of things worth remembering. In this case, Presence as a practice and true connectivity over the illusion thereof.

I don’t want this piece to be seen as a diatribe against technology. I am fascinated by technology and I believe in it. But something being mindful on occasion has taught me is that there is never JUST a good idea. There are always unintended consequences. Sometimes those are amazing and unexpected gifts and sometimes they look like nuclear meltdowns. But the acknowledgment of both sides of the coin before tossing it, while it’s spinning in the air and the moment before you read the outcome, is both wise and necessary. I’ll leave you with one more quote from Sherry Turkle’s book ‘Reclaiming Conversation. The Power of Talk in the Digital Age’. A read that drew me inexorably into the simple realization that, for me, Tea is the most effortless and graceful gift of our day and age.

“This is our paradox. When we are apart: hyper-vigilance. When we are together: inattention.”

Imagine all that we’ve learned from this millennia old ritual of leaves and water, silence and presence, and I challenge you to NOT agree with me, Tea Geeks, that Tea is the perfect medicine for the age of the Internet.

Thanks and Cheers,

Brandon Boyd

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July 2016, Morten Menge, Germany

Tea came to me in in my late twenties, around seven years ago. As the story goes, my mom and sister decided to go to a tea seminar together and asked me if I would like to join them. At that time, I had no connection to tea whatsoever, but I loved the part in Karate Kid II when Danielsan was having a tea ceremony together with Kumiko.

That tea seminar changed my whole perception of tea, especially when we got to the part when we were drinking Taiwanese oolong brewed gongfu. I found it very charming. (The tea was really nice, too.) That tea experience changed something in me—something was lit on fire. Today, I think it was the peace in the tea and ceremony that really touched me.

Back in those days, peace of mind was really something I needed. I suffered from a deep depression and my whole life seemed gray and without any direction or purpose. I had already tried meditation for some time, and it did help to balance me out more and relieve some of my pain. But Tea came and suddenly, a completely new world opened up to me, calling out to me to explore it. Tea became of more interest to me. I started learning Mandarin, Asian history, pottery, religion and spirituality, flower arrangement and bonsais, biology and plants, etc. The list of tea-related studies is endless, as it seems like Tea is connected to everything.

I needed healing in those days. I needed to slow down and get back in touch with myself, and so I spent many bowls and cups drinking tea by myself. Over time, my relationship to Tea changed into something bigger. I participated in many tranquil tea sessions, reminding me of the clarity I’d sometimes experienced in deep meditation sessions. Then I started drinking tea less judgmentally, more “just drinking” the tea: feeling it, listening to it... Meditation and Tea seemed to merge more and more naturally for me.

With this changed view, which felt more “real” in a way, I discovered more and more truth in life and insights started to slowly unravel for me. It is this kind of learning, which you can only attain by yourself in moments of clarity, that creates the fertile ground in which we can grow roots.

Then, I stumbled upon the words “Cha Dao” on the Internet and subsequently found my way to older publications of Wu De and other writers. As I was reading, I was in awe. For the first time, I was reading something that would put those personal tea experiences and insights into words. I realized that there are more people in search of true tea wisdom, and that Cha Dao is not just a thing of ancient times—it’s very much alive!

I really ended up getting in touch with the Hut due to my dear tea sister, Robekkah. I am so grateful that I met her, as she and her boyfriend, Christian, are not only such warm and kindhearted people, but were the last missing, connecting piece for me to lead my way to this wonderful community of tea-loving people like you all!

As I tell many people now, I am not worried about getting lost in life anymore, as I have a compass now, and the needle is a bud with two leaves. May you find your compass too! Big hugs to all you out there! Come visit Robekkah and me in Berlin and let’s share some peaceful tea sometime!

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June 2016, Ourania Karydis, Australia

It was instant. After the first bowl, I felt a connection to my true nature beyond anything I have ever experienced before. Was it the ceremony? The smell? The taste? The touch? I really can’t be sure, but what I do know is that when I opened myself up to that first bowl in complete emptiness, I was transported to the place where it all started. The same energy that created me, created Her. I felt at home and held within Her presence.

I’m definitely of the belief that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear, and that is what Tea has been for me in the most subtle and profound ways. It all happened in perfect synchronicity.

I reached out for more guidance to other tea brothers and sisters in the community through Global Tea Hut, which I was ever so grateful to find. I regularly attended tea ceremonies held by Matty and Lesley in Brisbane who shared their home, knowledge and tea with me. It was from there that I would sit every morning, breathe and be with Her in silence and complete reverence. Even today, I still sit every morning with Tea as part of my self-cultivation. I know in my heart this is a lifelong path for me, but my mornings with Tea are the time where I completely let go of the past and future. There are no expectations and no attachments.

Nine months after starting my tea journey, She led me to Taiwan, to the Tea Sage Hut. I felt called very early on to travel to the Center, surrender to the teachings and absorb and learn all that I could, and I did just that—learning more than I ever thought I would. I didn’t realize how much I had really learned until I got back home and served at a tea ceremony again. The wisdom, practice and knowledge I had gained flowed through me and into each and every bowl. It is a feeling that cannot be put into words. It can only be felt by one’s self.

I am so grateful to have connected with so many amazing people through Global Tea Hut and for the opportunity to stay at the home that is the Tea Sage Hut and to meet the people who keep this community evolving and flowing. I have never been a part of anything like this. One of the greatest highlights of my time in Taiwan was the opportunity to pack these Global Tea Hut envelopes and label each and every one of them to be sent to all of you. You can imagine the delight on my face to know how many people this reaches all over the world and the love and energy that goes into it all. This really is something special that we are all a part of!

After my experience at the Tea Sage Hut, I constantly remind myself to be a caretaker of Her, and not to feel like an owner of Tea—forever in awe of all that She is and does. Sharing Tea in ceremony has become a big part of my life. I am now offering regular community nights with tea and meditation at our yoga and lifestyle studio in Brisbane. It’s such a beautiful experience to share tea in a way that is devotional, graceful and loving, and to see people who sit for the first time, so unsure of what is about to take place and then by the end of the ceremony, like most of us, they are resting in complete stillness, healing and peace.
If you ever find yourself in Brisbane, I would love to share a bowl with you!

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May 2016, Amy Woodruff, USA

I was introduced to tea through my dear sister Tian Wu. A mutual friend excitedly led me to Tian’s home, where I sat with the Leaf for the first time. I didn’t know exactly what was in store, but soon my bowl was filled with tears. I couldn’t stop crying. The tea enveloped me, and I felt as if I had been taken under Her spell. I felt like I had just drunk the most ethereal and sweetest, yet earthy and rooted essence of life.

A few months later, Tian served a large group of us as we sat for the very first Spirit Weavers gathering in November 2013.  Now that we’re heading into our fourth year, the tea ceremonies have become a huge part of the gatherings. It has been incredible to watch and witness the Leaf speak to each woman in her own way. We gather together as women, and Tea wants to be right along there with us! When I think of the gatherings, Tian’s early morning sits are among my favorite memories.

Initially, I was relieved that the Tea hadn’t wrapped Her leaves around me too tightly. I was filled with so much already. How could I make room for another practice in my life? And most of all, I truly enjoyed just sitting and receiving medicine through Tian. Then, one day, Tea spoke to me in a different way, and I was afraid to listen because I knew exactly what She was up to.  Later that same week, a package arrived in the mail from a friend filled with a handful of different teas. From that day on, Tea wouldn’t stop flowing into my life, so I took Her in, and each day my beloved and I sit and share tea together. With a five-year-old daughter, finding some quiet and alone time is a task. Tea was a beautiful opportunity to make time and space to sit and just be. We like to drink in silence for a few bowls, and then tune in deeper about our day, our thoughts and our hearts. This time is a gift that we treasure, and the tea always awakens exactly what we are seeking to find.

Last summer here on Kauai, the sticky humidity during our tea sessions turned into an even deeper cleanse with each new day.  I was releasing so much and the tea… well, She just kept on listening. Soon I begin serving tea to my island sisters each Tuesday morning. As island folks, we tend to do things on “island time,” so tea was the perfect gift for us all, and She slowly made Her way into each of our lives.

Without other guides here on the island, we surrendered to what was available: the Leaf, the true Teacher Herself!  The island has its own flow, and like the water of the spring, women drift in and out, keeping the sits always alive and ever-changing. My sister Ali brings fresh spring water from near her home deep in Manoa Valley. Sometimes my daughter and I make the pilgrimage ourselves.

Just after I arrived back from the Tea Sage Hut in Taiwan, I had the pleasure of meeting Tian in the Center. My appreciation for Wu De grows each time I have the opportunity to sit with him, from California to Kauai to Taiwan. The Tea Sage Hut is a perfect example of what we can manifest when we listen closely to our heart’s calling in a community where wisdom is always being spoken and Tea is always the guest of honor.

If you ever find yourself on the magical island of Kauai, come and share tea with our community here. A bowl of Her Majesty will always be waiting for you!

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April 2016, Dalal al Sayer, Kuwait

As an Arab, Tea is imbued in me. She was always there growing up and savored in many forms: a ruby red brew infused with strings of saffron and a splash of palm water; a tawny concoction of leaves and milk, scented with cloves and cardamom and a menagerie of other spices; dancing tippy toed atop fresh mint leaves; or just plain and unadorned. She was always there, bubbling over charcoal, as we gathered in tents in winter, Her warmth prompting us to pour cup after cup, a vestige of the impeccable Bedouin hospitality. Even in the desert heat She is still there.

She even came to visit me in dreams; indeed my first gustatory dream experience came by way of Tea—the taste still lingering in my mouth long after I awoke. A few years later, and only because stormy weather prohibited outdoor activity, I attended my first tea ceremony in Vietnam. At the bottom of my bowl, there She was: a heart-shaped outline. I felt Her looking back at me as I was looking at Her in wonder. And here it was, something I’d been missing all my life: a sense of reverence and awe for something I had taken for granted.

Still, I was to reconnect years later, after I myself had steeped and matured. And this was a much more grounded, profound and personal experience. In a magical space where the jungle kisses the sea, Tian Wu served me my first bowl of Tea as I know Her now. Mind you, I was really sick, so my olfactory and gustatory senses decided to take a vacation as well. There I was sitting in Heaven, sipping this hot beverage I could not taste nor smell, wondering what it was all about. “Sit,” She whispered, “sit still.” And still I sat. I did not wonder anymore, but simply allowed the hot liquid to permeate membranes, cells, portals... Here I saw my Self, infinite and boundless; and my heart gave a soft vow to give this Leaf a human experience. She nestled Herself in my Heart.

After I came back from that trip, I excitedly started setting up for Tea Ceremony using Elevation from Sun Moon Lake. As I was boiling the water, my sister’s friend asked if she could join me. As you can imagine, a flash of fear set in, and I had to remind myself that it was Tea that had invited her, so that fear turned into glee; I am honored and humbled to serve Her! Since then I have served many bowls to my family and loved ones, and always upon their own request, curious as to why I love Her so much. They leave transformed and loving tea thereafter.

Since then I have enjoyed many kinds of tea, and always it is like meeting a new friend and getting to know their personality: here is a peach-scented soft sun surfing my tongue and settling in my solar plexus; there is a naked revel and roll on mud and moss. She can be playful or serious. But to be honest, there is more to Tea than just the sensual realm. There is also a subtle world in each bowl. And like most things in this life, it doesn’t really matter what I say. Tea is to be experienced, and once experienced, you are exploring an ancient knowledge. My heart’s wish is that you know this.

She beckons me. She guides me. She nurtures me much like one tends to a sapling, a sprout or a bud. I am in deep gratitude to Wu De and Tian Wu, the Tea Sage Hut family, and all the Tea sages and lovers that came before them, and will come after them. And what a special time to be at the Hut celebrating 50 issues and all that is to come! If you ever feel compelled, come to Kuwait and share a bowl or a few… I raise one now to all of you. I love you. Salam.

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March 2016, Jesse Oro, Finland

The first cup of tea I had was a Twining’s tea bag. My second was a whole leaf Darjeeling, and that contrast of quality put my eager mind on a path of tea-geekiness. Thus my tea hobby started with analytical tasting sessions on my own or with a few other enthusiasts. I am a very intellectual person, so tea was a fascinating challenge. There was a huge amount of information to learn, and the sources were full of contrasting opinions. So the hobby was very difficult to progress in, but also very exciting.

Maybe a year after my first two cups, I was sitting in the home of an esoteric, modern shaman. This dude was brewing a tea he called “the Purple Lady,” using big coffee mugs as improvised gaiwans. His words about Qi were something alien to me. However, after a few gulps of that tea, they started to somehow make sense. I felt the Qi. It was as if tea had been black-and-white to me before this tea, whereas this one was in full color. Later, every once in a while, I encountered something similar, but it was rare. Over time, all tea started to be a more holistic experience. Some teas didn’t taste very interesting or complex, but there was something else to them, which made me savor them even more.

In Finland, there is a surprisingly large community practicing Japanese tea ceremony. I was more drawn to Chinese and Taiwanese teas, so I went to their beginner’s course mostly out of curiosity, and without expectations. I learned a new way of approaching tea. I used to think that drinking tea alone was superior, without any peer pressure so I could stay more objective. For these Chajin, tea was primarily an act of sharing. My time there was quite short, but their attitude and aesthetics affected me. Many Westerners seem to regard whisked tea as nothing but a set of complicated rules, though actually, underneath the rules, lies something very simple and beautiful.

Some time ago, I met a new bunch of tea people in Finland, and one of them had just become a Global Tea Hut member. Leafing through the magazine convinced me to give it a try. I had the mentality of a customer at first, like I was ordering a product which was worth the price. As you know, these pages house a lot of information, and the teas are very high quality as well.

My first visit to the Tea Sage Hut was a very short one. I wanted to see the place and the people and form an opinion about the operation. I saw a lot of similarity with the spirit of tea I’d touched upon in Finland. Later, Wu De visited Finland, and stayed in my home for a night. Having somebody as your guest changes something. I think that’s when I ceased being a customer and started to be a member. When I visited the Tea Sage Hut for the second time, I stayed a week. As I’m writing these words, I’m staying for a third two-week stint.

Today, Tea is present in my life on many levels. Often, She is the center of my attention, and at other times the background. Tea is starting to feel something familiar and cozy to me. Maybe our relationship has matured a bit. I love having tea by a forest spring or sharing tea at home after a busy day. But I have to admit, when Wu De starts to speak about puerh mountains, tea cultivars or processing methods I still listen particularly carefully—I’m still a tea geek as well!
Welcome to share some tea with great spring water should you find yourself in Finland!

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February 2016, Kent Steedman, Australia

After being asked to be this month’s Teawayfarer, I had to contemplate my time with Tea. Three stages come to mind, three key moments that changed everything. Like most Australians, I drank tea with my grandparents from the pot with a tea cozy to keep it warm—strong and loose leaf with milk and sugar. Then, in my late teens, a friend suggested I try tea without milk. I tried it and I could taste something other than milk and sugar, the tea.

Many years later, I had my first tea moment. After drinking herbal beverages for some time, I was taken to a tea room in Sydney and experienced drinking a second generation Da Hong Pao. It was amazing, to say the least.

My second tea moment came after I became a regular at that tea room, and got to try many fine teas. Circumstances changed for the owners, and I ended up taking over care of the shop. Then the third amazing thing happened: Six years later, I got an email from some joker named Sam, asking if another bloke named Wu De could come prepare tea for a group here. I thought, “Sure, why not?” I had tried some wild-harvested teas before, but not the old growth he’d brought with him. I didn’t mind puerh, but preferred oolong. A great puerh is special and can change your relationship to tea.

So here I am at the Hut, learning more than I knew was possible and contemplating Tea and me. In hindsight, it is no surprise I have aligned with Tea.

I have played music for decades, so sound, vibration and tone have been the primary to my journey and focus. There is a place in us that music touches that can only be known when you are in that space; and there is a knowing that Tea touches that only comes when you are in the space as well.

All things are frequency, and Tea is a bridging tone for me. The first time I stopped and resonated to the tone of Tea, I knew there was more than I could fathom in Her song—the sound that goes to all places and continues to grow, like a tree does.

The healing potential of tea is not used to its full extent yet by most in the East or West, I feel. We can help this grow more as a global community, which supports those that maintain the integrity of tea production, tradition, brewing and love. Find your truth in Tea and stand in that truth, remaining open to learn and help. Adapt as Nature does.

I tip my hat and offer my gratitude to the aboriginal peoples for sharing this herb long ago, to those supporting them today, and to other traditional growers everywhere; I bow to the Tea Hut crew for this lineage and for helping those of us who heard the call of Tea, and to all of you reading this for participating.

If any of you find yourselves in Sydney and feel like listening to records and sharing some fine tea, please come by.

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January 2016, Connor Lind, USA

We all know the story: First, you’re looking for an alternative to coffee. You go to the grocery store and find some tea bags that strike your fancy, or make a trip to your local tea shop and try their strawberry “black” tea (which I now know is actually red tea). It all seems very interesting, but there are just too many categories of tea and it soon becomes overwhelming. You read a few books or blogs and discover how “real” tea drinkers prepare their tea with gaiwans and thermometers. Perhaps you order a few oolongs or white teas on the Internet and start inviting your friends over. They commend your mastery and tell everyone they know about their friend who’s “really into tea,” and now you’re the definitive subject matter expert for your inner circle. Soon you discover puerh, buy a few cakes, and want to start a blog of your own. Tea. What a beverage!
This was my story, and the story of those who had taught me about tea in the States. Before my first journey to Taiwan, I was locked into this paradigm. I hardly allotted any time for Tea Sage Hut, maybe one or two nights maximum during my epic two-week pilgrimage to the Island of Tea. Why would I? The tea was “out there.” It was on the slopes of alpine peaks, waiting to be conquered and consumed...

The forecast for my trip to Taiwan was rain. Lots of it. Somehow, in my meticulous preparation for a tea-soaked escapade, I missed the fact that it rains in Taiwan. With a change of plans, I decided to nonetheless begin my trip at Tea Sage Hut, and inquire how I could still wander about and buy some tea once I got there. When I finally arrived at Tea Sage Hut, I was informed we would begin with an early-morning sitting meditation. We followed with a silent breakfast while the team prepared the main room for a tea ceremony. OK, I’m in Taiwan and tea is being served. Let’s see what they’ve got.

The moment Shen Su began serving bowl tea, I was spellbound. Simultaneously captivated by the spirit of the ceremony, and horrified by the previous errors of my ways, I sat still and drank bowl after bowl. This is the first time I’m drinking tea, I thought to myself. One moment, one sip changed everything!

I spent years treating tea as a commodity: Something I just had to figure out; something to buy and taste and compartmentalize. At Tea Sage Hut, I realized that I was not there to study tea. Tea was there to teach me about myself! Tea Sage Hut shared practical knowledge about tea, teaware, and preparation, but with a critical reverence for tea and the natural world. This subtle yet powerful cultivation of humility was later expounded by Wu De’s description of Rikyu’s Four Virtues of Tea, which have since remained the guiding principles for all aspects of my life. Without a shred of doubt, I spent the remainder of my two-week trip at Tea Sage Hut!

The folks at Tea Sage Hut put their whole being into every cup. The tea feels and tastes different because it is different. Call it mastery or not, but with Global Tea Hut, you’re in the presence of love for life itself. Undoubtedly, I loved tea before I visited the Hut. I wouldn’t have traveled halfway around the world if I didn’t. What the Hut taught in such beautiful simplicity, however, was how easy it was to obscure love with self-centeredness.

I’m forever grateful for my time there, and am looking forward to meeting the rest of the Teawayfarers in this wonderful community...

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December 2015, Connor Goss, Australia

It has been an awakening for me, discovering Tea. The seeds for this awakening were planted long ago, patiently waiting for the sun’s warmth to provide them with the energy needed to sprout. Tea has steeped into the deepest places of my being, healing unseen wounds. Or perhaps Tea was always there, as it often feels like I am remembering something that I have forgotten—that we all have forgotten: our ancestral roots. These roots stretch deep into the Earth, into my own eternal form. They become intertwined with the consciousness of all beings.

Tea has revealed to me the unseen world that exists within the tapestry of our own. Journeying into each bowl, each containing an entire universe, one can find the stillness and silence required for internal cultivation. Through maintaining a space of internal stillness, of mind and form, it is possible to cultivate one’s creativity. It has allowed me to weave words, structured forms from the formless landscape of the eternal. I can no longer separate my endeavor of writing from Tea. They are different sides of the same eternal form, and both my passion. Yes, I am a writer.

Since a young age, writing has called to me, finding its way into the deepest layers of my being. Yet, something was lacking. Call it an inability to perceive beyond my own form. I grew to become increasingly observant of the world, and yet I remained unable to let go of the constructs, still very much trapped in the outer layers of experience. Continuing along such a path could have proven destructive for me, but I was fortunate to have discovered Tea. And that reshaped my internal landscape. Tea has helped me cultivate a deeper understanding of the subtle, unseen threads found within our world—an understanding which everyone possesses, but for the right catalyst. For me, and many others, Tea was that catalyst.

This journey, or pilgrimage, marks the beginning of a longer, more ancient journey: to cultivate the seeds of a planetary awakening. Tea, when approached as a sacred, medicinal and spiritual plant can transcend the human and planetary consciousness to a more meaningful, harmonious existence. She has been a medicine since the earliest days of humankind. She remembers a time when humans wandered the world, possessing a deep reverence for all beings and an understanding for their own roots. Tea carries our ancestral memories, countless stories and cultural heritage. She facilitates a space of recollecting that can be cultivated when approaching Her as a sacred plant medicine.

If any of my dear brothers and sisters across this vast, connected planet should find yourself in Australia, it would be the greatest honor to share tea with you…

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November 2015, Mia Maestro, Argentina and L.A.

To describe tea, my relationship to tea, when I met Her, my first encounter with the Leaf should be easy, right? And yet, I struggle to put into words a relationship so simple yet so vast, so infinite and yet also tangible... Who am I without tea? Who am I when I’m embraced by Her? How to talk about a meeting that often resembles an orphan finding her lost mother, a savior, or sometimes even a lover…

How to write about the energy held within the bowl—the void staring back at me, my will diving into its unmovable centered precipice? How to speak of the times I become invisible while serving my higher self in every cup I hand to others, or the numerous times I’ve created interference with every movement of my unsure hand, or held my breath occupied with other matters, unfocused and rattled?

How to tell about those instances when the construction of myself disappears and I faintly catch a glimpse of my true spirit—I become see-through, Nothingness dressed as magic settles in; and, like a light mist amongst the cliffs of Wuyi, it inadvertently sways through me like a lonely stick of incense yearning to be lit, the way you and I want to be ignited. It’s like the piece of charcoal I just placed on the fire that becomes a dinosaur egg: red, full of magma spirit, reminding me of the same fire that once broke a seed open, the sun-fire that awoke that sprout of a camellia tree, that brought nourishment to that leaf—to the leaves in my bowl and in your bowl that have been dancing around like dervishes since the beginning of time, since the birth and death of the last time…

I guess poetry is the closest I’ll come to expressing what Tea is to me. I’m Mia. I’m this month’s tea wayfarer. My home is in Los Angeles and everywhere I am. I’d love to share a bowl of all this poetry with each of you someday, my tea family...

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October 2015, Robekkah Ritchie, Germany/Canada

Where to begin...so many aspects of my life come together rather perfectly with Tea. It really is a natural extension of everything I love: Nature, meditation and art. From a young age, spending hours in our garden talking to the plants, being raised by Buddhist parents and staying at the Theravada monastery near our hometown in Canada, along with my love for the creative made meeting Tea in a meditative way a perfect fit.

I was first introduced to living tea from our dear tea brother Shen Su. We were raised in the same village in Canada and Shen's mother was my caretaker from a very young age. Though we attended elementary and high school together, ironically we only became close when we both left our hometown—I went to Germany and Shen went to travel the world. On his travels through tea farms and other exotic places, I would get delightful packages full of tea and we would occasionally meet in person back in our hometown for Christmas.

Being in Taiwan, just sort of...'happened', really (along with everything that ever happens, but that's besides the point). While in Thailand doing fieldwork for my doctorate in Buddhist studies, I had the opportunity to bounce over to Taiwan to visit my dear old friend in 2013 at the renowned and mysterious "Tea Sage Hut". I thought, "Taiwan is practically a neighbor to Thailand. I'll go for Christmas!" Visiting Shen would be the closest I would get to being around family on that side of the globe, and he had told me stories of his new life in Taiwan, the Hut, teaching children, and Tea. However, I was still completely clueless as to what actually went on over there. So I went! Meeting Tea as medicine, as meditation and as a creative expression of myself felt so right in so many ways, and Tea has become an integral part of my life here in Berlin ever since.

The years leading up to my trip to Taiwan, I was wishing/wanting/looking for a way to better share with others the serenity and beauty that my life was overflowing with. Many people I met were rather intimidated or uninterested in sharing silent meditation. I am often so baffled at how my wish to share was answered so incredibly and perfectly with Tea. Being able to offer silence, healing, connection to Mother Earth and all the other gifts that giving Tea brings is one of the greatest honors I could ever imagine. Tea is open and available for all, with no dogma or interest in the different lines of division we often put between ourselves and others.

Tea has brought new depths to my relationship with myself and my partner, whose life has also been dramatically transformed through this sacred plant. It brings us such incredible joy and deep gratitude to share this gift with others. If you are ever passing through Berlin, there is a hot bowl waiting for you!

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September 2015, Chris Carpenter, Australia

As so often happens with life changing events, my journey into the world of Tea began as a result of a series of serendipitous events, culminating in a talk with tea by Wu De in February of this year. As I sat in silence, drinking tea and watching this enchanter of liquids work his magic, I was changed on a fundamental level. Never before had I experienced time standing still so effortlessly like it did on that day. After we drank our tea, I sat captivated for hours as Wu talked about the Five Elements and their relationship to Tea. I can honestly say that I never noticed the time passing. I can not remember any experience previous to that where I was so completely enraptured!

Since then I have drunk tea every single day, usually first thing in the morning, and that practice has grown into a daily meditation and journaling, too. I have developed a practice of mindfulness that has permeated many areas of my life and has improved everything I do.

Before meeting Wu De, I was already on a journey of self-discovery, figuring out what I want out of life. And that has led me to a kind of spiritual awakening, but I was unable to voice my experiences, thoughts or feelings. What Wu was saying about Tea that day somehow articulated everything I was going through. Tea was the thread that bound it all together.  

I had been backpacking through Asia for six weeks, with a backpack half-filled with tea and teaware. As my last stop before moving on to North America, I stopped at the Tea Sage Hut in Taiwan to spend some time learning more about Tea and meditation. Being there deepened my love and appreciation for all aspects of Tea and given me a base of knowledge which I can build upon. Moving forward, I’ll be going to Burning Man festival to help with construction. Having been to the Hut, I now have the confidence I need to make serving Tea in a ceremonial space a part of my contribution to the festival. 

I can say with great confidence that finding my way into the world of Tea has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I have met so many wonderful people and have had a multitude of amazing experiences through the Leaf. My heart is full of love and gratitude for all of them. I am eternally grateful to my Tea friend Matty for hosting Wu De when he came to Brisbane and following his intuition in insisting that I come along to Wu’s talk. My life has been forever changed, and I know that Tea will always be a friend and guide wherever I travel to from here.

If you want to change your life, all it takes is a bowl, some leaves and hot water...

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August 2015, Stephanie Ayres, Ireland

It was upon coming back to Falmouth in the southwest of England for my second year of studying illustration that I was introduced to a beautifully adorned, small shop that seemed to slip by unnoticed for most of the general public. It was where I was to find a peaceful sanctuary; it was where I discovered Tea.

The small shop in question was The Essence of Tea run by David and Kathy Collen. I feel blessed to have been given a year and a half to experience tea drinking in such a beautiful way, and what an incredible bonus that it was on my doorstep. From first sip, I was in love. I think the first proper tea that I tasted was a 2010 Sun Moon Lake, on a balmy September afternoon. To this day, Hong Shui & Shui Xian remain some of my favorites, and the taste of delicious 1980’s bamboo tuocha just will not leave my memory.

I jumped at the chance to learn more about tea, and was given that opportunity in the form of attending an evening tea class every week. I have to say that at that point, I was more focused on writing notes than being fully present with the teas. However, it is worth reminding ourselves that when we catch ourselves being not fully present, that we are all constantly learning how to be with ourselves, and with Tea.

During my illustration degree, it was a place of refuge, and as I always had my trusty sketchbook to hand, inevitably, I took to drawing the teaware and my surroundings. I loved all the different textures. Eventually David and Kathy asked me to illustrate the wrappers for their 2012 Puerh teas. It was such an honor to have my work nestled up against Tea, and I am forever grateful to have had that opportunity.

It was with a heavy heart that I said goodbye to the tea shop when it closed. Drinking tea from the 1920’s in the last tea ceremony in that shop was one I will never forget (although the name of the tea escapes me!) In particular, a moth landing on my nose nearing the end of the evening brought smiles and joy into my heart.

Since then, I've fallen in love with teaware. I sat spellbound, watching Master Zhou Qi Kun craft a teapot in under two hours, along with Master Lin’s evocative commentary. I will forever remember the likening of the handle of the teapot to the reins of a horse, having to rein in the energy from the spout of the teapot and create balance. Poetry such as this can only melt the heart. I have since attended pottery classes, and made some very rudimentary slab-built teapots. It is my wish that some day I can find someone to apprentice under, so that I can learn this art more fully, and create a lid that actually fits! (Just how they manage it is beyond me.)
Tea has always brought me home, and given me a sense of peace and comfort. It has connected me back to myself and the Earth, and opened my heart once again. I wish to continue to deepen my rudimentary knowledge of Tea, falling deeper and deeper in love.

May we all fall in love with Tea and each other, more and more with each passing cup.

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July 2015, Rich Allum, United Kingdom

I’ve been a lover of tea for as long as I can remember, just not tea as I’ve come to know it in these last six months. As a child, long before the Leaf existed outside of a Yorkshire teabag, I would always enjoy the cups of tea my Mum would lovingly make for me. She would also always offer any and all of our guests tea as soon as they had made themselves comfortable, and looking back it’s now clear to me that Tea is, and always has been, a symbol of heartfelt generosity. All over the world, an Englishman drinking tea is a stereotype and one that we’re all proud of. Making tea for others is definitely a part of our culture, although I suspect most of us simply do it for no other reason than to be polite; the connection goes no deeper. Tea, whether we’re aware of it or not, represents a spontaneous moment of togetherness—a Time. And Tea Time for me is sacred, more so now than ever.

During my early twenties I spent several years working in a chain of coffee shops where serving hot beverages became my livelihood. I fell in love with the atmosphere—the shop always felt alive with energy (no doubt caffeine-fuelled), and it was here that I developed a sense of love and enjoyment for being of service to others. It’s no wonder that, almost a decade later, long after leaving that line of work, I still dream of owning my own teashop. For now, I run the stockroom in a family-run locksmith supplies firm, where thankfully there’s still some time for tea. A few years ago, when the business was much smaller, I would have the chance to make dozens of cups each and every day for myself and the other employees, enjoying the five minutes of solitude whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, along with the smiles of gratitude as I would hand them out. Sadly, I’m a little too busy these days, so I have to settle for serving them all just once a day in the afternoon. It may not be a bowl of aged sheng puerh, but to a certain extent that doesn’t matter; my intention remains the same regardless of the tea or the teaware and that sense of enjoyment and fulfillment is still ever-present. (Truth be told, I do relish the opportunity to share my newfound love of different teas with others whenever possible!)

It was in October 2014 when Prabhasvara visited the Nottingham Buddhist Centre to perform a tea ceremony and talk about his life of Tea that my partner Becky and I found an amazing connection to both Tea and to each other. And that has changed our lives immeasurably. As I sit here now in Shen Su’s room at the Tea Sage Hut in Taiwan, sipping a bowl of this month’s tea, it’s impossible for me to imagine a life without Her. I drink five bowls in silence each and every morning before meditation and I have never felt such a profound sense of peace and interconnectedness. I know so many others have said the same, but if you haven’t yet begun this practice I sincerely urge you to start today, right now if you can! As Wu De often says, drink just three bowls of tea in silence at the start of your day for a whole week and see what a difference it can make to your life. I can say hand on heart that it’s changed mine.

I have six more amazing days left at the Tea Sage Hut and another six days thereafter to explore more of Taiwan and its tea culture before returning home to Nottingham, England. If any of you ever find yourself nearby, please drop me an email and let’s meet for a bowl or two.

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June 2015, Ashley Smith, USA

In July 2013, I took a trip to Asia. While traveling and studying abroad, I fell in love with the East. It would be only three short months after my return to the States that I had booked a one-way ticket and was on a flight back to Asia for a more permanent stay. I landed in Taiwan January 1st, 2014. The plan was to save up and pay off student loans, travel Asia, live simply, explore my spirituality without distractions, hopefully meeting some cool people along the way. Coming to Taiwan with these preset ideals of what I wanted my life to look like created dis-ease. I came to a spiritual low-point that manifested itself physiologically, and quick. But it was during the time of my greatest surrender that the Leaf danced her way into my life and into my heart forever.

Before coming to Taiwan I was really into loose-leaf herbal teas and single origin coffee. I was a frequent buyer at a local teashop where I almost started working. Although I loved the teas, I didn’t think much about them in a spiritual way. It’s no surprise that my journey had finally led me to this moment. It seems like the Leaf was preparing for my arrival for some time.

As I was climbing out of my own self-made muck, I was attracted to a podcast that my cousin, Victor, had been sharing. I had never listened to a podcast in my life. But after the first episode I was hooked. I scrolled through the archive and hit play when I came across Wu De's podcast. I was captivated by way he described this magical plant. My body had chills the entire time I was listening, and it was when Wu De shared the “indigestible version” of what Tea is, an avatar of Love, that I found myself crying. Something inside of me felt like it was reawakened. It struck a chord deep within, of an ancient and deeply buried wisdom, recalling a knowing from a previous lifetime.

Every morning I put on music, light my incense, put on the water and sit. I drink three silent and still bowls and then, with Tea, I create, either by writing or drawing, dancing or singing. I am often times brought to tears during my morning ceremonies. The tears I cry are of deep and abundant gratitude. She helps me see and connect to how incredibly blessed I am. I have everything I need. And what a miracle that is! She gently washes away the false beliefs about myself that I cling to. She brings to the surface what the Universe is ready for me to see, so I can make space for more of Life’s blessings. Also, I have never felt more profoundly connected to Nature and Mother Earth in my entire life, and I have never felt so sensitive to the state of our world and the ways in which we are destroying our sweet home.

Any extra moments I have are spent at the center where I have made some of my best friends and most sacred memories. This tradition has changed my life. I am constantly inspired by the Love and Wisdom shared with every bowl.

So now, maybe you can see what I can see: that I didn’t come to Taiwan for the reasons I thought. I came to Taiwan to be reunited, in this lifetime, with the Leaf. I have been serving tea to women each New and Full Moon. I will soon be moving back to St. Petersburg, Florida and I cannot wait to share this gift with the ones I love so dearly, as well as with my hometown community that is ever evolving and growing in Love. If you are ever in St. Petersburg, you always have a place to stay and a hot bowl of tea waiting for you.

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May 2015, Lindsey Diacogiannis, USA/Australia

As a child I always loved having tea parties with my dad and sisters. I remember waiting to be old enough to use one of my gran’s precious porcelain teacups, and feeling so thrilled when the day finally came. I guess in this way, Tea has always journeyed with me. Growing up in the coffee-saturated Pacific Northwest of America, I can’t help but see this as being intentional in my life’s path.

It wasn’t until three years ago, when I was staying in Vancouver, BC and a friend invited me to go to her favorite tea shop in Chinatown, that my heart really opened up to Tea in a whole new way. We stepped into the shop, and a sense of awe washed over me as my eyes began to take in all the beautiful tea and teaware lining the walls of this narrow shop. Daniel, the shopkeeper, and his wife kindly invited us to sit and enjoy tea with them. I discovered for the first time the magic of the Leaf, as they prepared tea gongfu—the steam rising as water poured over the pot, the small cups waiting to be filled with this enchanting elixir…

Shortly after this visit, my partner at the time, Sam, and I moved to Australia, and began researching Tea and tea ceremonies (admittedly, Sam did most of the research, supported by my curiosity and enthusiasm). We started ordering teaware and experimenting with ceremony on our own, and then eventually came across Global Tea Hut. We both felt like this was ‘it’—this was the next step in our adventure with Tea, and so we booked our flights to Taiwan in October 2013. Little did we know how instrumental this trip would be in each of our lives.

It was like coming home. I remember the first tea session we had with Wu De in the large tea room at the center, and tears streaming down my cheeks. My heart filled with a sense of knowing and being known. The last of the Four Virtues of Tea is ‘Tranquility’, described as a sense of oneness and absence of time. In that moment, nothing else in the world matters, only the experience of ‘the Now’. And this is what I experienced in that first session at the Hut. All of my life, travels, experiences and relationships became irrelevant in that moment, and all that I was present to was held in the bowl between my palms. Another beginning…

I visited the Hut again in July 2014, and was blessed to host Wu De and Sam (who has now moved to Taiwan to fully invest in Cha Dao) in February while they were in Melbourne as a part of the Australia/New Zealand tour.

Tea has become a primary part of my life, meeting me each morning in my daily practice, and being shared with friends every Friday evening in Melbourne at a lovely teahouse I was blessed to work at last year, and who now generously hosts us each week (shout out to Impala and Peacock Teahouse!). There’s always a bowl here for you, too, should you happen to be Down Under. May a thousand, thousand bowls meet you in your paths….

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April 2015, Justin Polgar, USA

Geat greetings my tea brothers and sisters! It is with enthusiastic pleasure that I write to you from Oakland, California. May my fingers weave the ink upon this page with as much grace and levity as tea leaves dancing in hot water. This morning is like many others before it, filled with the sounds of fire wooing water, slow waking breath, and, of course, a river of cars outside rushing to work. My daily work begins with tea, thankfully.

Like you, I am a student of Tea, thirsty for the cups of wisdom that fill us and empty us. Wu De once told me that when passion and purpose are found, it is important to live in them deeply, so that the groove one digs in this life will be easier to find in the next. This rings true, deep into the stardust of my bones. I am grateful to find myself back in the role of alchemist and magician, this time healing the world through chocolate. Tea can be a warming beverage, or a medicine for consciousness, just like chocolate can be a sweet treat, or an evolutionary messenger from the plant world. Like Tea, chocolate is labor intensive, which means there are several opportunities to adore, revere, respect, and love each step of the process. When we give attention and reverence to a cup of tea, or a carrot, or a chocolate bar, the innate intelligence of the plant begins to sing to us. Every sip of tea, every bite of chocolate, is an opportunity to give thanks to the meta organismic ecosystem of the wild that is “the farmer”.

This wander-guided education into chocolate has been deeply supported by my love of Tea, and this Tea community that is dedicated to learning with an open mind, a curious palate, and an encouraging heart. I must take a moment to thank Adam Yasmin for introducing me to Tea as a ritual practice. I remember following him around Los Angeles, no matter what time of day or night, just for the opportunity to enjoy tea in the casual depth of gongfu style. I would find him serving tea at 3am, tucked away in the corner of an underground party, walls vibrating with drum and bass; and there we were, peacefully smiling in grounded presence, tea cups cradled in our hands, observing the diversity of entertainment that is human behavior. Many nights and many cups later, I have cultivated a deep respect for Tea as my teacher. In 2010, Adam gave me a tea set for my birthday, which is now stained with stories, smiles, prayers, and deep insights of my belonging here and now. Yes!

I am honored to share Yes CaCao’s botanical chocolate bar, Gaba Baba, with the Global Tea Hut community this month. We use chocolate as a delivery system for botanical medicine, a vehicle for education, and a reason to praise with a big smiling “Yes!”. The Gaba Baba can be enjoyed at any time of the day or night. We have stone-ground the GABA tea, kava, turmeric, and blue lotus spagyric into this smooth and flavor-layered chocolate to help you relax into your natural rhythm. The bars contain no refined sugar, no dairy, no soy, and no gluten. There is only one rule: Make a wish and then take a bite!
You are invited to explore our website and support our current Kickstarter campaign, “Feeling The Yes.” We appreciate the heavenly gaze of your eyes on these words, and when you find yourself in Oakland, please come by for a cup of tea and a bite of chocolate!

Like you, I love Tea. Like Tea, I love you.

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March 2015, Sabine Schalk, Germany/Spain

In June 1962, my German parents named me Sabine Schalk. When I was very young I felt attracted to Asian philosophy and yoga. Since then, I studied several arts like Shiatsu, Reiki, Qi Gong, different kinds of massage, life-coaching, sound therapy and Asian art itself. I lived in a yoga community for ten years where I served as a yoga teacher and therapist.

Since 1994, I have lived in Spain, near Malaga. Every morning when I wake up, I thank the beautiful landscape around me, including my beloved 2068m-high mountain and the lake before it. My husband Gleb and I share our house and garden with our students, where we run a “Tao Center”, which is our yoga teacher school.

Right here and now I am sitting at the kitchen table at Tea Sage Hut in Miaoli burning some meaningful incense for you and I. I bought it last year at Daitokuji Temple in Kyoto, Japan. This temple has a very important relationship with Sen no Rikyu (16th century).

Several times in my life I got in touch with Cha Do, the Japanese Way of Tea, and since 2011, I have developed a profound practice everyday. My teacher of Cha Do lives 600km away from my home, so you can understand why I don’t have as many classes as I would like. I always ask Master Rikyu’s spirit to guide and teach me when I do my practice at home. And he often asks me to do a movement again and again, until it is done well and gets into my cells.

Being on the Way of Tea, the question often arises, “how did your love-story with Tea begin?” I remember when I was sixteen years young, many tea shops in Germany opened and my mother, a friend and myself were invited weekly to try another tea. Later, around twenty-three years young, I went to India and the deepest experience I had in seven weeks of traveling around was in a very simple tea hut. I was sitting on the earth. There was a fire burning and a “simple” Indian man made a wonderful chai for us… “What is in this Tea?” I asked, wondering: “Is it the same that can be found in a kiss? Is it Love?”

Two years ago I also opened up to the Chinese way of serving tea. On YouTube I saw that there were very different ways to prepare tea. Without having expectations on myself to do it properly, I made my first steps into that new field and I loved it too.

Last year I discovered Caj Chai tea shop in Barcelona. Do you remember Antonio Moreno? He was a teawayfarer one month as well. He created an atmosphere of Tea that I really love!! The first time I visited, I sat surrounded by the beautiful teaware made by Petr Novak. I spent the next three hours having Tie Guan Yin and reading the Global Tea Hut Magazine, which was lying on the table. And what a surprise!! Profound wisdom about Tea combined with Cha Dao! Some months later, I met Wu De in the same tea shop in Barcelona… And now I am sitting here in Miao Li sharing my story with you…

Let me tell you about the tea we had with Wu De this morning! He used a side-handle teapot and served puerh tea. Being in silence we were guided, cup by cup, into a deeper connection with the spirit of Tea. I love so much when the steam of the tea comes up, creating a mystical atmosphere. Suddenly I was aware that the steam was not only transformed water, but also transformed Tea! So Tea was in the air… or was it Love? The steam went higher and higher, blending in with the clouds, coming back to us and Nature…

Here at the center, everybody is putting his or her heart into living as a Chajin (philosophy and spirituality expressed in daily life). The meditation in the morning and in the evening is a great gift that brings us nearer to our true nature and oneness. I love the time we spend in silence and deeper conversation as well.

So now we have shared this time together and you have listened to my story. I’d like to serve you a “cup of tea”. Would you like some? Please relax, breath deeply and calmly and enjoy this present moment with me….


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February 2015, Frederic Ballario, France

My first taste of real Tea was offered to me by my special friend, Roch, a few years ago somewhere in California. It was not a life-changing experience, as I was not ready yet to have my life changed. But a seed was planted… 

Later, after going through my badly needed mid-life crisis, and starting my healing and “spiritual” journey, the seed of Tea sprouted when I found my way to the Tea Sage Hut in Miao Li, Taiwan. There, I found a home. I found brothers and sisters. I found a Teacher. I found inspiration.

I have to share that I was born and raised in France and moved to California in my late twenties. It so happens that my passion and gift in this world is through wine. I speak its language. I know how to serve it, and how to pair it with food. I know how to grow the fruit and turn them into wine. I just love wine (even though I don’t “drink” it anymore). Wine, speaks to me like Tea does to the residents of the Hut. When I arrived at the Hut for the first time, though, I was questioning that gift. I doubted everything in my life. I had lost the sacred connection. 

I sat in the meditation hall, and around the table where Tea is offered daily from the Heart. The silence that filled the room allowed for some deep journeys and realizations. I listened to the teachings and it became clear that what was to be doubted was not my passion, but my relationship to it. I had to go deeper. I had to let go. I had to go beyond the visible and accept the intangible—bypass the mind and let the soul hear and speak.  For a French-manufactured mind, that was not such an easy task. Descartes’ “I think therefore I am” is what has defined French philosophy for centuries. But the fact that this truth could be smelled, put in your mouth and swallowed was an advantage for a French-raised being!

Tea and wine have so much in common. They both are the result of the fermentation of parts of a plant. They express a unique sense of place and time. They can, when produced with the utmost ecological respect, translate the perfection of Nature. And, when the perfection of your body and soul get in touch with such medicine, veils are lifted and realizations made. 

The way Tea and this tradition are revered, practiced and transmitted at the Hut is such an inspiration for anyone who gets to experience it. I am so grateful to have found a new friend and teacher through the Leaf. I am also thankful to have come upon the Tea Sage Hut where Truth can be drunk everyday in such deep and loving company.

Brothers and sisters, I cannot invite you to my home to share a bowl as I don’t have a permanent roof over my head. I have chosen the life of a gypsy, going from vineyard to vineyard, season after season. But I know I will meet you, either at the Hut or on the road somewhere. I look forward to dancing with you all in the bowl soon...

Roch, thank you my friend.

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January 2015, Matt Hansen, USA

I have heard people say they have life-changing experiences when traveling abroad. While this was certainly true for me during my first trip to Taiwan, what was more profound when visiting the Tea Sage Hut in Miao Li was having a multitude of life-confirming experiences. The biggest confirmation was how important it is for us humans to trust our intuitions and not be led astray by fear, but rather to be driven by love and follow the subtle yet powerful signs life provides us. Unfortunately, it is sometimes too easy to stick to social norms or worry about what others will think no matter how unhealthy a current lifestyle may be. I had no idea what I was doing when I booked my ticket to Taiwan. I didn’t even know anything about Global Tea Hut at the time. I just knew that if I booked a ticket, the Universe would provide. How did I know? A little Leaf told me!

I remember sitting in a teahouse in Portland, Oregon with a good friend of mine. I’m not quite sure how we ended up there but neither of us had ever tried anything but stale Lipton or Celestial Seasonings and knew nothing about Tea culture. The first genuine Tea conversation was with a Yunnan gold tip “black” Tea commonly known as “Emperor’s Gold”. I will never forget the feeling it gave me. After my first sip, I could feel a warming sensation spread through my body from my throat to my stomach to the tips of my fingers down to the tips of my toes. I just sat there in silence for a few seconds listening to this experience and I knew what I had just put in my body was going to steer my existence down a wonderful path. In the following years I learned to trust myself in new ways through the advice of Tea. By this I mean sitting in silence sipping Tea and welcoming the calm and clear sensations the warm liquor brought to my body and mind. Devoting time, space and conscious energy to create an open dialogue with Tea allowed a bond to form between this magical Leaf and myself.

As a musician I have attempted to explore, accept and steep in quite a diverse range of emotional energetic states in order to better speak through my music. During the first silent Tea session I had with the Global Tea Hut group a gushing fountain of pulsing energy drenched my body and inspired my heart to awaken and soar through the Heavens. The energy had such a deep-rooted wisdom and sense of healing, it felt like it could unravel the tightest knot any physical being could emotionally create within its body. The amount of unconditional love coursing through my marrow felt like an overflowing kettle of boiling water bubbling over with feelings of gratitude and happiness. I was grateful for being allowed to participate in such a beautiful community surrounded by beings opening their hearts and allowing love to saturate the air around them. I felt happy to share these feelings by being present and knowing each person around me has, consciously or unconsciously, accepted Tea as a vehicle for bringing love into their lives.

These life-confirming experiences have helped me consciously change my life by bringing the awareness of equanimity and love into each thought that passes through my mind. Love is alive and well, my friends. It is patiently waiting for you to find it in various places in your life and be a conduit to share its sacred power to all those around you. Be bold. Take chances. Create a life for yourself that speaks from your heart. The entire universe will thank you.

Please feel free to reach out to me with the email address below. I look forward to sharing a cup of Tea with all of you wonderful people.

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December 2014, Chris Sage, USA

As you have no doubt discovered through reading each month’s wayfarer article, the Way that Tea finds Her way to each of us is as unique and varied as the Leaf itself. Sometimes it’s a chance encounter, and for others it is the culmination of a lifetime of searching. Regardless of the journey, however, the destinations always share a common theme of renewed connection to Nature and to each other through the alchemy of this simple Leaf. My journey is no different, a chance encounter, an unexpected shift in direction that brought me to this table with all of you. 

There was a time when all there was to know about tea was “Do you like it hot or on ice?” It was a choice of beverage at lunch, nothing more. The first time I found Tea was quite by accident. Looking for a warm drink on a cold morning, I stumbled into what at first glance seemed like the wrong place. I wanted a cup of tea; what were all these people doing with these tiny pots and thimble-sized cups? It was all very odd. I took a chance, though. I sat down and slurped a few snack-sized servings and discovered something new—something unexpected, something that tasted like dirt, leaves and magic. As I sat at the table, making my way to being tea drunk for the first time, the thing I remembered most was that even in a room full of strangers, it seemed like everyone knew each other. Conversations flowed so naturally and there was a powerful sense that I could share anything with the people around me—and I did! There was laughter; there were tears; but above all else, there was compassion and understanding. We had come together from all over the world to share those tiny cups of magic together...

It wasn’t until several years later that I met Wu De and learned about Global Tea Hut—again, quite by accident… My wife had run into some tea people at a local yoga festival and, it turns out, they were looking for a place to host a workshop on tea. Being the beautiful open spirit that she is, she graciously offered to host these strangers at our home. I remember it vividly. I got there late after having some last minute details to wrap up at work, I walked into the garden and there was this guy... sitting quietly, serving tea to a small group of very focused looking people. I awkwardly made my way to the last available seat, climbing over some of the other guests and, missing the introduction and generally not used to silence amongst so many people, I blurted out “What kind of tea is this?” in the most acutely newbie manner possible. To this, the gracious man serving tea replied, “It is the tea we are having in this moment”. Needless to say I was shrinking a little in my embarrassment, but in some way, what he said made sense. You see, there were some dots from my previous experiences with Tea that I hadn’t connected yet. It wasn’t the tea or the people that made these experiences special; they were special because we were sharing Tea and each other in that moment. We were choosing to make that moment sacred and profound, a small space in time that we had carved out for each other. 

Over the years as my relationship with Tea has deepened, it has become a beautiful part of my life. It has taught me patience and how sometimes it is important to just be still and listen to the wind in the trees. It has afforded me so many opportunities to fall in love with my wife, my friends and all of you over and over again. Through this magic, this alchemy of leaves, water and spirit, I have found so much more than a hot beverage on a cold day... I have found a home. 

Thank you to my wife, Wu De, Tien Wu, Qing Yu and Adam Yasmin (who served me my first cup of leafy dirt magic).

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November 2014, Amelia Franklin, USA

Before 2003, I was like most Westerners, especially those raised in the City of Angels, land of movie sound stages, and had never before seen loose leaf tea. To me, tea was merely a bag you haphazardly threw into a mug of hot water (the process redeemed only slightly when said mug was adorned with a cute kitten pawing at a ball of yarn). My dear friend Rachel and her family observed Shabbat every week, and every Friday night I was welcomed to a delicious free meal and a plentitude of Moroccan glasses of tea. Rachel and I would delve into the process of picking a tea pot, selecting a tea, and creating a space to serve. I was blown away by the fact that tea leaves could be steeped more than once. ‘You mean to tell me this awesome plant keeps on giving!?’ Needless to say, all the Friday nights of my teenage years were spent drinking tea, laughing, and playing monopoly with my best friend and her family!

Years later, Tea came pouring gracefully back into my life at the first annual Spirit Weavers Gathering, by way of Tien Wu. My job at the gathering was to create a playful, engaging and mystical environment for all the little kids there. By the end of my first day, I was coated in red paint, spattered in a colorful sprinkle of yarn and glue, and completely out-numbered by over a dozen energetic kids. Perhaps it was the hidden dashes of terror in my eyes or my zombie-like stance at the following morning’s breakfast, but Tien thankfully read my body language. She took my hand and guided me into her Lotus Tea Tent. what happened next is Tea history… 

“Where were you when great Mother Earth called?” And with my first bowl of tea, I finally answered. She was hot and direct, carrying with her centuries of wisdom and healing. I could sense she already knew me and suspected this was what love at first sight felt like—love at first sip!! It wasn’t until a few months later that an opportunity to study Kundalini yoga and drink tea in Bali emerged, that I really began to proactively seek and follow my new direction. I was itching to get to the East! Tien had spoken to me many times before about the Tea Sage Hut in Taiwan, imploring me to visit the center and meet Wu De and drink tea with him. I booked the yoga retreat with a three-week-layover in Taipei the next day.

When I stepped through the center’s doors, I immediately felt at home. I felt my spirit dance, hugging all the empty space between the jars of tea, like old friends embracing after time apart and reeling in the palpable flow of energy in the main teaching and drinking area. Tea spirit lives in all the teaware, the wood tables, and even in the seat cushions! There are two main rules while living in the center, which are painted on the wall above a portrait of the Buddha: “Hug everyone in this house everyday,” and “Be in love”

Loving and hugging everyone here has been the easiest rule I’ve ever had to abide by. My tea brothers here are the most helpful, kind, and honorable men I have ever had the pleasure to be around.

Our journey has just begun, and I will happily uncover Her depths and await Her offerings for the rest of my life. Tea is the root connection, my new friend, and counterpart in life. I suspect She will be the voice that answers back when I ask “Is anyone out there?”

I’d love to share some tea if you live in LA or are visiting.

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October 2014, Solala Towler, USA

I never drank tea or coffee when I was young, but in the early 70’s, while living in a meditation hut on a quiet street in Berkeley, my friend Spike introduced me to the delights of coffee. I became a dedicated coffee drinker after that. Then, in the late 70’s, after a bout with infectious hepatitis, I switched to red tea. Around twenty-five years ago, when I was exploring Daoist thought, Qigong and Traditional Chinese Medicine, I switched to green tea and truly began my tea journey.

Each morning, I begin the day with several pots of Dragon Well (Long Jing) green tea. I find it provides a gentle lift rather than a big jolt like coffee or strong red tea. I still like a good cup of Indian chai in the afternoon, though. I had one of the best cups of tea in my life (along with the best slice of apple pie I ever had) at a hotel in Lhasa, Tibet, run by folks from Nepal. I sat in the courtyard of the traditional-style hotel at 3,600 meter on a sunny day, just happy to be alive and in Tibet, a life-long dream. The tea journey is like this: different cups of tea suit different places and times, and often seem to capture and enhance the moment in such a special way.

These days, I often brew gongfu tea for many people, including some friends who’ve never seen a gongfu tea ceremony and wonder why I am pouring out the first steeping when I just told them that we’re drinking a high quality tea! I find that when I teach Qigong seminars, having a tea ceremony in the middle is a great way to help people arrive in the present moment and share some nice plant/water/fire energies in the middle of the weekend. I have also started having full moon gongfu tea ceremonies for around fifteen people.

A few years ago, I got to write a book called Cha Dao: The Way of Tea, Tea as a Way of Life published by a company called Singing Dragon. It is really a primer on Daoism and Zen, using the metaphor of Tea Mind to explore those philosophies. It was a very fun project to do, fueled by numberless cups of fine tea!

I have been publishing the Daoist journal The Empty Vessel for twenty-one years and lead annual tours to the sacred Daoist mountains of China to drink tea, practice Qigong and meditation.

I am so happy to connect with this wonderful family of tea through this magazine and plan on coming to visit Tea Sage Hut after my next trip to China. I am also very happy to connect with my new tea brother, Wu De. I feel such a kinship with him through his books and this magazine. I am grateful that such a wonderful thing exists and look forward to sharing these teas with so many tea brothers and sisters all over the world!

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September 2014, Ville Sorsa, Finland

Finland has rather little by way of tea culture. People drink mostly coffee. And tea is usually enjoyed in the form of teabags. Thus, I spent my youth under the illusion that tea is merely a bitter, thinner substitute for coffee.

At the age of eighteen, after moving to Helsinki for studies, I had my first loose-leaf tea. It was a sweet blend of green and red tea, flowers and fruits, steeped in a ball-shaped single serving tea strainer. Although the tea wasn’t very high class by my current standards, it rewrote my conception of tea.

Then I started trying out different teas. After a short introductory phase with blended teas, I realized the wide diversity of aromas of the Leaf itself, and I began exploring the different categories of tea. My brewing methods evolved from single serving strainer via pressopan to gongfu tea with a gaiwan. At the beginning of 2013, I met my first true tea brother, Tertti. It was the first time I met a person of my age who brewed gongfu tea, loved puerh and even made kombucha! We drank lots of tea together. We soon found more tea lovers, and in the summer of 2013 we founded a student association called, “Tea Club Chai”.

That same summer, I took another important step on my path of tea: I visited Chado, Steve Kokker’s teashop in Tallinn. Steve introduced me to Global Tea Hut and sold me Wu De’s book Zen & Tea, One Flavor. I subscribed to Global Tea Hut and enjoyed my first cup of Living Tea. The articles resonated with me deeply, and I realized the deep spiritual element of drinking tea.

On the 2nd of July, this year, I flew to Taiwan. When I arrived to Tea Sage Hut, I was in terrible shape. For way too long I had been doing things out of a sense of obligation. Nearly every action I made was based on fear instead of love. I was stressed, worried about things left undone and uncertainties about my future, and I was in an extremely negative mood. I was not present. I wasn’t enjoying all the beautiful things around me, and I began to doubt if tea was my path after all.

But staying at Tea Sage Hut, bowl by bowl, I began to heal. Wu De’s teachings about life and the Way of Tea changed my point of view toward many aspects of life. Daily morning and evening meditations made me more conscious about my thoughts and actions, and gave me more compassion towards my weaknesses. Organic, vegetarian food and endless bowls of clean tea cleared my mind and body. Andy, the Chinese medicine doctor, helped to alleviate my postural problems. But most importantly, Shane and Max’s relentless optimism and positive attitude, and the loving atmosphere of the center changed my perception: I began to see more light! Finally, one Friday evening, I came to realize: “I’m am here, in Taiwan!” I was my true self again, here and now.

Now I see that coming here was one of the best decisions of my life. I have had so many beautiful experiences: tea sessions, insights, movie nights, trips to tea farms and the sea, and getting to know good people. I’ve changed as a person, in several positive ways. When I return home, I will make sure to drink bowl tea on a daily basis, continue to follow a vegetarian diet and dedicate time for daily meditation and prayer.

As Wu De says, this tea tradition is not about making tea; it’s about serving tea. Thus, I will also start arranging regular tea sessions, working to improve our yet-rather-small tea association, and spread awareness about this Global Tea Hut. If you ever happen to visit Helsinki, come share a few bowls with us! You can contact me by email, phone or by writing a message to our association “Tea Club Chai” on Facebook.

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August 2014, Sabina Padilla, USA

Tea found me two years ago in Los Angeles at a yoga festival called Tadasana. I remember walking into the Tea tent on a gloomy Spring day, and the energy was so inviting I knew in that instant that I wouldn’t want to leave. There were five tables serving tea and I was seated at Wu De’s table. He served me my first bowl of Tea and my life changed at that moment. I had a sense of familiarity, as though I could feel a lineage pulling me back in time. I felt Tea had been in my life before. Wu De spoke to us about Cha Dao and I was so moved by everything he said, that his words of wisdom stayed with me all this time. And, of course, he told us about Tea Sage Hut and I knew one day I would visit.

A year later, my dear friend and tea sister, Taylor, invited me to her monthly Full Moon Tea Ceremony and brought this beautiful tradition back into my life. Sharing space with ten strangers in silence was such a powerful experience. Each bowl of Tea spoke to me in different ways. Tea is nature’s medicine, and nourishes my mind, body & spirit, harmonizing me with all the elements. The energy in the room shifted throughout the session and by the end of it we came out brothers and sisters. It was incredible to experience how we all connected without using words to communicate.

Eight months later, after completing my Vedic Meditation Initiator Training in India, I traveled to Tea Sage Hut to deepen my love and reverence for Tea. I arrived at the doorstep of this sacred space with no expectations and my cup empty, ready to be filled with wisdom and tea. The moment I opened the door the energy of this magical center filled me with an overwhelming sense of peace and I felt like I was returning home. Wu De, his beautiful wife, Joyce, and the resident students welcomed me into their family with open arms and open hearts. Their hospitality and enthusiasm for Tea deeply nourished me. I was moved by being fully immersed in Cha Dao: the way life flows in the day-to-day activities, from Tea ceremonies, to cleaning, to collecting water from a mountaintop, always mindful and present. As Wu De says, “How you do anything, is how you do everything,” and these wise words have left me witnessing how I interact with everyone and everything I encounter—from the way I speak to someone to how I hold my Tea bowl. Each person at the Hut exemplified what it truly means to be selfless and to be of service.

After collecting my first set of teaware, I have left Tea Sage Hut inspired and humbled at the opportunity to share this beautiful tradition with my family, friends and clients. I will be incorporating tea ceremonies at the end of my Ayurvedic Nutrition & Lifestyle Workshops. I’ve come to see tea as a medicine, and I believe that it can be such a great aid in creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It certainly has done so for me!
I am also a meditation instructor, and I can already foresee many of the ways that Tea is going to influence the group sits I lead. In that way, a lot of the bowls we share together each month will have a greater influence. On my trip, I realized just how much tea and meditation are the same, learning new ways to share them both.

If you find yourself in Los Angeles or Miami, I would love to meet each of you, my extended Tea family, and have the honor to serve you Tea.

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July 2014, Anastasia Kotliarova, Russia

My first deep experience with tea was during my second year of university in my hometown of Rostov-on-Don, Russia. I was attending a college open house, trying to determine what my field of study would be. As it turned out, one of the lectures involved a tea ceremony. I thought, “This should be interesting!” The lecturer was a psychotherapist, who also happened to run his own tea house. Interestingly, he combined his profession with his practice of making Chinese tea, often seeing his clients over tea.
Maybe I learned more about tea than psychology on that day! During this first encounter, I was already learning about how the way we prepare tea affects the Qi of our water, which eventually goes into the tea we are preparing.

I listened and watched with a completely open mind, instantly falling in love. The first tea seed was planted in me. By the end of the lecture, I wanted nothing more than to work at his tea house and learn more from him! Sure enough, while still in school, I would begin to work there. In the beginning, this meant being the dishwasher—but that did not affect my happiness and joy from being there.
Even though the tea house was amazing, I eventually felt I had to move on. After all, being around tea naturally causes you to daydream about far away places—majestic, enchanted places in the world where tea comes from. I could almost touch the misty mountain air that covers the hills of tea trees high above. In my heart, I was already in this place!

Eventually, Denis, a friend from Moscow and GTH member, told me about the Tea Sage Hut. Hearing how special he made it sound, I knew I would have to visit someday.
That day came earlier than I expected! From the moment I stepped out of the railway station, I would experience the hospitality of the Hut. After a few days there, I knew I wanted to go deeper into this way of tea, and share it back at home.

Eventually, I studied to become a massage therapist, and, just as the psychotherapist, I am working to connect this profession with sharing tea. In April of this year, I opened Studio 108 with two other people. It is a center for massage, yoga, Taichi, Qigong and ... Tea.

As a massage therapist, I have yet one more way to help people relax, opening their hearts to their own natural beauty and wisdom within. Often, after a massage session, I will share tea with my clients. It works perfectly, as they are often reluctant to rush back into the real world! With tea, I feel I am caring for someone in the deepest way possible, especially my clients. The power of touch, and the power of tea both communicate unconditional love.

I felt like I had found a form of hospitality that anyone could warm up to. Actually, children in Russia often drink out of big bowls, holding them with two hands, as they’re easier to drink from. I remember drinking tea with my family as a child, holding my bowl. I like to think that people here feel the same way I felt in Taiwan; a homecoming and a return, not just to childhood, but to a beginner’s mind.

When sharing tea, we become connected with our spirits, and with the entire cosmos! To me, it’s important to invite people to enter this sacred space inside. Nowadays in daily life, we rarely make space for ourselves. Maybe, like me, a single experience could inspire someone to begin meditating, or make some deep change in their life. My hope is that in making space for tea, I am helping people to make space for themselves. I am still sharing tea publicly, once a week, but I would love to do it more often! If you are in St. Petersburg, please connect with me.

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June 2014, Yvonne Gallegos, Canada

This past January, sitting upon the Flower of Life in Tulum, Mexico, is where Tea found me. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life. I was served bowls of tea with such reverence and love that it moved me deeply to my core. I was in awe of this ceremony of serving tea in a way that I had never seen or heard of before. Sure, I had heard of tea, as tea is everywhere—in the markets, in my kitchen cabinet, served to me at a friend’s house, etc.

This experience, however, was something completely different. This tea was completely different. What was this ceremony I had just experienced? I marveled at the way I opened up to Her with humility and for the way She listened. For as I looked within those bowls of tea, there it all was: earth, air, water, fire, ether, spirit, oneness... Life! It spoke to me in a way that nothing had before. It was like reuniting with a loved one, overwhelmed with such joy and love and so many other emotions. To me, it was clear that She possesses all the wisdom in the world. Within these bowls of tea are absolute truth. There is nowhere to hide, for She is truth. Within these bowls are absolute love, for She is love.

I honestly do not know much about tea, compared to those in the ‘tea world’. I am a complete beginner. I cannot have a conversation with you about how great this oolong tea is or how old that puerh is, but that’s okay, for I’m in no rush. What I do know is how everything you need to know about life is within Tea and in the ceremony. Patience while the water brews. Willingness to listen and witness life as the water slowly opens the tea. A loving heart-space not only for when you reach for the kettle but when you also reach for the bowl—taking into my body and sharing centuries of gratitude for those who nurture and harvest the Leaf and all plants on earth. The mindfulness of preparing the tea table with simplicity that reminds us to de-clutter our minds and life, to keep only what is necessary, for excess distracts. The way to handle objects that serve us over our lives with respect and care. Being ‘in love’ with those sitting around you. And most importantly being present. Truly present in that moment.

Meeting the Leaf has changed my life. It is such a precious gift to have a reason to sit in silence and reflect on life, on your own or with friends. To put your cell phones away or, even better, turn them off for a while and have a moment in time to connect and share a loving space or conversation with friends of family. Our world is in such a hurry these days that we often loose sight of what is really important. Sitting with a bowl of tea, I experience beauty in the quietness, and gratitude for the space it gives me to reflect on all the things I have to be grateful for.

I knew from the first bowl of tea in Mexico that it was never a question of ‘if’ I came to Taiwan; it was really a question of ‘when’. It was really important for me to come and learn more about Her—how to handle Her and how to communicate with Her better. To learn the tools what will bring my relationship with Her to a higher level and to share this special experience with others. I have already served tea here at the Hut and it brought me so much joy and love. A love that I’ve only ever felt for my daughter, as I look at her and she gazes back with the most supreme, pure love you can imagine. Tea is also my daughter. She is everything and nothing.

So here I am, three months after being found by Her, sitting here at the Tea Sage Hut in Taiwan, expressing my complete love and gratitude for Tea and all She has to teach me Nothing ever felt so right. I’m right where I need to be, present in this moment…
I’m either in Toronto or LA these days, so if you are in the area let’s have some tea.

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May 2014, Ivan Karushev, Russia

I first got into tea through listening to Russian rap. Some rappers in Russia write songs about Chinese tea: puerh, tiguanyin, Da Hong Pao, those kinds of tea.
One day, when I was 16, I was walking around and saw a tea shop selling puerh, so I checked it out. The woman there told me about this “20-year-old” shou puerh and I bought some. But I didn’t know how to brew it. I made it British-style, adding some sugar and drinking it from a mug. That was exotic for me, but I wanted to learn more and I started from that point.

Later I returned to the shop and bought some other kinds of tea (oolong, white tea) and started to explore those worlds. For me, the real tea journey started one evening, when I sat in my room drinking Dian Hong. I used awful teaware to brew it, but I took a sip and something transcendent happened inside. It took me to the deepest level of tea.

In Russia, we have a lot of information about tea as art, and we have some tea culture too. I learned about tea from Russian books and websites. Then I moved to Moscow to work as a tea server at a tea club. I was trying to learn all I could about tea. So in Moscow, I contacted tea people I knew through the Internet and met many fellow tea lovers that way. One of them was Denis. He invited me to his home to drink tea.

Denis is a student of Wu De. We drank bowl tea in silence, and he showed me Global Tea Hut. We drank a Global Tea Hut oolong gong fu style. He explained equanimity and sensitivity in these brewing styles, and I was really excited about that. One week later, I drank 1980s puerh with Nastya (another Global Tea Hut member), and that session was exactly what Denis had told me about drinking tea with my heart. So, this tradition just found me. I didn’t choose it. It just came and I accepted it because it was already a part of me.

I wanted to deepen my knowledge of the brewing methods in this tradition and I was in luck: that summer, Wu De came to Moscow. Wu De helped me go to the deepest level of tea. I went to his workshops and really changed my viewpoint, to see tea not only as a beverage, but as a living plant spirit. We drank Five Elements tea, and it was like when I drank Dian Hong, but more intense. I really felt the leaves fill my body. It completely changed me. It started my way of life, because I started to feel myself more alive. I feel more subtle sensations around, not only in my body, but in other people and in objects, too. I started to feel more compassion for all I see as well.

Since then, I’ve started to practice all five brewing methods from this tradition step by step, and to do all I can for this tradition. So right now we are working on our tea center in Moscow. We create tea gatherings and so many people come to these gatherings. Every time we have different experiences, like ichigo ichie. You always want to make something special for your guests, to help them feel the Leaf, to be of service and to connect. It’s not about imposing my vision of tea on them, but rather helping them hear Her voice by themselves. I help them create their own relationships with tea.

Wu De and I met again last autumn, in Estonia, when he came to do other workshops there. Then we had workshops in Kiev. I realized that the next time we would meet, would be in Taiwan, so I started to plan my visit there. It ended up being spontaneous, and now I’m here at the center writing this! Here in Taiwan, I started to realize how fresh my love for tea is and how much I need to do for the future of the center in Moscow, but it’s good because I’m not stuck in ideas of how to do things. I can come back to beginner’s mind. Being here has completely refreshed me and prepared me to return to Moscow and share what I’ve learned. Please come help us in Moscow, or if you’re visiting, share some tea.

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April 2014, Aleksey Novgorodtsev, Estonia

My family has always appreciated good tea. I think it’s because my parents spent the active part of their youths in the steppes and deserts of Central Asia, where I was born.

Therefore, I’d first like to pay tribute to the tea traditions of that region. As we may know from history, since ancient times there were important trade routes, by which countries from China to the Mediterranean traded silk, spices and tea. In the time of the Soviet Union—a time when my parents were living and working in the Kazakh desert—the vast majority of consumers only had access to two types of tea: Indian red tea and Chinese green tea. Sometimes green tea was available in bricks. And although green tea was not popular amongst the Russians or Europeans who lived there, the locals drank a lot of it.

In the typical day of a Central Asian person, the process of tea drinking holds a special, remarkable place. Whenever there is a gathering of people, which is often, and prior to any food, the host serves a tray of freshly brewed green tea and bowls. Such a starter cools down your body when it’s hot (yup, hot tea helps us to cool down), and stimulates digestion, which is really helpful when eating a heavy meal. Growing up in at tea-loving atmosphere helped develop my appreciation of good tea, even as a kid.

Tea returned to my life in Moscow in the early 2000’s. A good friend of mine was working in a tea club and introduced me to the universe of Chinese tea culture, which was growing in popularity amongst intellectuals there. It was fascinating: amazing and unusual puerh, incredible oolongs, a whole new world of green tea varieties, etc. And on top of that, plenty of cool “toys” with exotic names for gongfu tea. This opened up a huge world of tea, but it all lacked something…

The next milestone in my tea journey was in Tallinn. I started coming to this small, beautiful city in 2012 for work, and eventually settled here (at least for the next few years). Estonia is something really special. You can feel that people here are deeply connected to Nature—the seasons, weather, soil, etc. It seems that people here have discovered a special harmony with Nature, something that lends them a haste-less and meditative bearing.

So, it should come as no surprise that here, in Tallinn, you’ll find one of the best tea places in the world, which is powered by Steve Kokker (contributor to this magazine) and his dream team. Thanks to them, last November I got the chance to meet Wu De and to participate in several workshops. At that point, the Chajin in me was awakened again.

As if that wasn’t a happy enough ending of my story, less than two months later I found myself in Taiwan without any clear understanding why I was there. We had an amazing time together. The trip and the tea changed my life.

If any of you are ever in Tallinn, look me up and we’ll share some tea!

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March 2014, Xander Rijkee, Holland

I grew up in a small village in the Netherlands on a mental diet of fairy tales, mythology and fantasy. When friends or relatives would ask me what I wanted to become when I grew up I always answered, “I want to become a wizard!” Eventually, I realized that was not going to happen and I did the next best thing… I became a physicist. The next decade or so I filled my mind with abstract things: logic, reason, philosophy, mathematics and I learned to create models with which to make predictions about the world. But I never lost the desire to dream and walk with my feet in the clouds, and like so many physicists I followed the circle of logic and reason and came out into the realm of spirituality.

Although I have always drunk tea as a beverage, the first seeds of tea drinking as a practice were sowed in Singapore’s Chinatown where I visited a teahouse and tea school with my wife on our honeymoon. After a short demonstration of gongfu cha and we were left to brew on our own. While clumsily making tea a spark struck. Something awakened in me: an itch, a yearning, an urgency... Not quite as if my hair was on fire, but there was some definite smoldering going on…
When I got home, I tried to learn as much as I could, which was difficult in a country where tea was a bagged affair always accompanied by at least one biscuit. Eventually work and real life took hold of me again and the embers cooled. Half a year later my world collapsed. I lost the ability to focus my visual attention. I could not read, drive, cook, clean, sculpt or work, but I could drink tea.

Slowly, over time, my tea practice began to fill the void that was left by all the things that I could not do anymore, and I found something I could still grow in. But to be able to grow I needed information, a tradition, a master. None of that was to be found in Holland…
By coincidence I discovered the online magazine The Leaf and I have had many of its articles read to me by the computer many times. When I heard that the people who wrote it were about to start a sort of global tea community, I instantly joined. I have been in Global Tea Hut from the start, sharing many cups of tea with all of you.

This month I finally made it to Miaoli, to the Tea Sage Hut to experience the tea practice and living tradition for real. I cannot understate how important this experience has been. To see a living practice in action is far more powerful than reading about it. I have soaked up as much information and wisdom into my spiritual sponge as it will hold, to squeeze out and learn from later. When I get home, I will be able to revisit all the treasured articles, continue growing and practicing… And above all, drinking lots of tea…

If any of you ever find yourselves in the Netherlands wanting to escape the crowded streets of Amsterdam for a while, know that there is a friendly, warm place two hours drive to the south where you can have a quiet cup of tea.

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February 2014, Sam Gibb, New Zealand

People look at me funny in Taiwan… Actually, people look at me funny everywhere. I don’t know why this is, but I have complied a list of possible reasons:

1) Long hair that only gets washed or brushed three times a year (three is an auspicious number they tell me).
2) The scraggly beard with old foodstuffs and Puerh-like micro climates.
3) I am barefoot in a number of socially inappropriate situations.
4) I grew up upside-down, on the other side of the world from most of you—in New Zealand—causing the blood to rush to my head.

Looking at this list you may think: “Oh, this guy sounds like a hippie.” I’m not, though the customs officer in Kuala Lumpur called me that on the way home from Taiwan.
Eight months ago, Taiwan would have been one of the last places on earth I would have pictured myself visiting (America is at the bottom of that list but that is mainly due to legal restrictions—something to do with reason four mentioned above, I believe). And yet, in the last four months I have been to Taiwan twice, with a third trip already planned....

What changed? What draws me deeper into this tradition?
Why is the work of this Global Tea Hut so important?

The first of these questions is easy to answer: I found Tea. And you know what I am talking about.

Why am I drawn to this tradition is the approach. I’m less interested in the external aspects of Tea—the pots, the types, the growing regions (although if you saw me on a trip to Yingge you might think otherwise)—as I am to the Tao of Tea, the insights, growth and connection it offers. Because I am starting to sound like a “NASG (New Age Sensitive Guy)” as we say Down Unda’, I will move on. Suffice it to say, like you all, I think Tea is pretty dang swell.

The second reason I am drawn to this tradition is Wu De and the connection I feel to him and his teachings... Basically he keeps it real. Mad real. I also feel connected to the love and service expressed through the actions of the Tea Sage Hut community. To me service is the highest spiritual path and the Hut community focuses strongly on this aspect of life.

The final reason bridges to my third question of why the work of this Global Tea Hut is so important. I believe in the vision and path of this tradition and Tea as a whole: No dogma, no sectarian views—just service and love experienced in a bowl. And that’s something that can be shared; that’s something that can build bridges and heal wounds.

In a world of rapid population growth, decreasing resources, increasing disparity of wealth, religious dogma and materialism, such healing is exactly what we need. Tea offers us common ground to connect beyond the delusions of our minds. It is a place to meet beyond our surface differences. Tea offers the experience of peace beyond words, ideas and concepts. To me, that is why it is so important, and that is why it is so needed in the world.

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January 2014, Sato, Ukraine

At some time, my “tea way” began, but whether I chose it at some significant moment I don’t know. My grandmother told me when I was a child that her father, my great-grandfather had a teahouse in a village not far from Kostroma, in Russia, and he used to have a heavy red beard. Maybe I have inherited his love for tea love as well as his hair. Who knows? Tea was in my life since childhood as a drink, as food, as medicine: I had it with my granny’s pies or my mother’s sandwiches and when I used to catch a cold I was given tea with raspberry to drink. Every nation has its own tea traditions…

I remember one tea experience that happened in my youth. At the age of 16, I watched a TV program about Japanese tea tradition. I wanted to try whisking tea powder myself. As there was almost no green tea in our country at that time I took some black tea and ground it in coffee grinder. I recollect the incredibly bitter taste of the tea. But I was over the moon that I managed to make something new and had a look at a familiar drink from a different perspective…

A deeper dip into Tea began five years ago. I remember there was a meeting due to the arrival of an acquaintance who lived and worked in London at that time. He brought some Chinese Oolong tea (Tie Guan Yin) he’d bought there. It felt special then…After we parted, I was caught up in tea magic and I felt it for three days. For no reason at all the aroma of the tea came back in my mind: either I smelled it in the air or suddenly the flavor of the tea appeared in my mouth. I was fascinated…

Then there were three year’s quest for excellence: of more high-quality tea, the best water and nicer teaware; a search for knowledge of growing and preparation methods. I was often a scientist: I used scales for measuring a precise quantity of tea leaves depending on the teaware, and a thermometer for the right water temperature. At times, this led to a scrupulosity that touched upon pride and snobbery. This also happened…

A love for Tea then brought me to China and I found myself in Guangzhou. This trip was one more key turning point on the way. The communication was almost always without words—I do not know Chinese and hardly speak English. But with tea and the help of tea people I had a new understanding. I saw that tea is not in degrees or grams. I found the joy in sharing it.

Before our flight back home we visited the Tea Museum in Hong Kong. I bought one of the issues of “The Art of Tea” magazine in the teashop there – the magazine that in future served as one more landmark on the Way. For the first time I read the articles of Wu De (using a dictionary) and got myself familiar with this fresh approach and attitude—with the tradition of the Hut. Then there were some books of Wu De’s, an acquaintance with some Russian tea brothers, one of whom invited me to visit the workshops in Moscow this summer.

The very first sip of living tea amazed and touched me with its lightness and simplicity. And at the same time it had an inexpressible depth that purified me, dissolving all that was collected from knowledge, theories and various practical training. Then, this autumn, we had the joy of hosting Wu De here in the Ukraine and held several successful events. My deep gratitude to Wu De and all the other tea masters!

Should any of you find yourself in Ukraine, please contact me and we’ll share some tea!

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December 2013, Siim Loog, Estonia

My name is Siim Loog and I originate from Estonia. I am a seed-propagated and Living human. For the past one and a half years, I’ve been drinking/learning tea and finding my roots. Tea came into my life and rearranged everything: She changed the way I eat, the way I clean, the way I relate to things and humans, and most importantly She showed me how to connect with my true self. Also, I think She came to show me the power of community, like this one we’ve got here! I think it is very important for us humans to get along and feel connected, don’t you think? We all want to matter to someone, like Wu De has said so often.

Writing this, sipping tea and watching my cats have a gentle fight, I am grateful that my path in this life has become interwoven with Tea. Looking back to where it all started, I see a cocky, confident, young Siim who thinks he is All Mighty. He thinks that by the age of 30 he will be super rich with the help of some kind of a pyramid scheme and then retire. But life had different plans in store for me: Tea came and showed me another perspective and gave another meaning to the word “rich”.

I still remember very clearly my first ‘I have fallen in love’ moment. It was at the restaurant Ribe, where I was working back in 2011. I made a Darjeeling Red Tea for some customers. For some reason, I took off the lid from the pot and smelled the freshly steeped tea. It was like Heavenly butterflies were flying around in my tummy. It seems like yesterday, so clear and powerful is the memory of that feeling. After that, I spent a year in Australia, traveling and working. Tea was always with me, as real leaves (Steve kindly gave me some for my trip) and also in my mind. I never forgot that first moment. Something deep down said that Tea would have an even more important role to play in my life. After a year of carefree living, I came back; I started to work at Steve’s teashop here in Estonia.

Now for the last one and a half years I have walked my walk and danced my disco dances together with Steve (article writer and all-around funny dude) as well as Triin (beautiful teawayfarer in the June issue) here in Estonia. I work together with them in a cool teashop and help build a tea community here in Estonia. I truly hope you can all come to visit us; it’s beautiful here. We do not have big mountains or very hot weather, but we have something special, something earthy and deep, calm and steady—good ancient energy. You will feel it when you get here.

Until then, I will learn to serve, serve and learn, and when you arrive there will be a nice community waiting here for you—growing bigger then to now, I promise! Much love to you and big thanks for making this project as powerful as it is. If any of you should find your way to Estonia, please do not hesitate to ask for help... Love to you all!

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November 2013, Jasper Hermans, Holland

How to introduce myself here to this amazing family which I’m so grateful to be part of!?.. Okay, I’ll give it a try… Once upon a time, long ago (actually last February, but it feels like years ago), I made plans to travel to Taiwan. And two weeks before my departure, while being lost again in the sometimes challenging and dangerous combination of two worlds: Internet and Tea, I stumbled upon the Tea Sage Hut website. I stayed one week at the center, and after being away from the center for less than a week, I felt that the only right thing to do was to go back and stay until my flight home to Amsterdam. I knew pretty soon that this was and is my home and family.

Now I continue this path, step by step, trying not to take too many steps at once in my sometimes youthful impatience. And after three “break” years of working, traveling, staying at spiritual communities—of which two became my home, Plum Village and the Tea Sage Hut, I’m living together with my parents and sister in a town close to Amsterdam where I’m doing one of the most horrifying things I could imagine: going to school. (Actually tea and meditation pretty much transformed my fears about studying completely… Well, almost.) I have been trying my best to open my heart and space to anyone whose spirit is ready to meet and become one with the spirit of the Leaf and Mother Earth. Although at times I feel like I’m the only person on this path of Tea here in this piece of land we call the Netherlands, I never feel as if I’m drinking tea alone. Even when I’m not so fortunate to share tea (as I do often) with a true bodhisattva with whom I live under the same roof—and is also my biological mother—I’m always sharing my bowls and cups with many of you. And often while sipping tea I smile to you, because I know that you’re there, and I’ll do my best to be there for you too!

Here is a poem that I wrote recently on the plane back to Amsterdam while crying tremendous tears of joy and gratitude, after an incredible week together with Wu De and the amazing group of people in Estonia. Thank you all so much for sharing tea with me every day. Whenever one of you finds her or himself in Holland, you’re very much welcome to come by and share some bowls, hugs, words or anything (even in between a transit at the airport—I’ll bring the tea and bowls along)!

The tears I shed today are the tears of thousands.
Thousands of beings whose paths we cross along the way,
And thousands of beings who are healed by the love from Mother Earth every day.
These tears are also tears from Mother Earth.
Tears of compassion for the beings that have forgotten that they themselves are Mother Earth,
And tears of gratitude for the beings who light up this universe.
Tears of only God knows what, as words can’t describe where these tears are coming from.
May we recognize each other in every sip, breath and step.
I bow deeply to you and all the buddhas and bodhisattvas.

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October 2013, Season Cole, USA

This is a love story that defies convention and stretches the well hydrated and aromatically steeped threads of imagination. A magical tale of ‘Tea meets Girl’. A debriefing of the nurturing friendship that has blossomed between a wise old beverage and a picaro changeling. Let’s begin at the latest conveniently designated beginning…

Ave Global Tea Brethren and Sister-Kin! Meet Season (which is I), a poet and performance artist, devotee of synchronicity, boogie dervish, and mixtress of mystical pixie sauce. Two years ago I began a daily recitation of a mantra that was, in essence, an invitation for Divine sanctuary to be delivered to me as well as a declaration of my body and all that I do as deliverances of such. Two weeks later… Enter: The Way of the Tea.

Upon my first tasting with Taylor and Colin at their Tea temple in Venice Beach, California, I was guided by Colin to connect with the tree from which the leaves came and the land on which that tree grew. Cue: Major Epiphany! I was immediately transported through time and space to a foreign landscape. I could tangibly feel the plant’s roots reaching spindly appendages deep into the earth below and the nutritive pulsations of Nature corralling upward through its trunk. I was tickled by gentle breezes in Her branches and serenaded by the subtle song of soft rustling and the delicate applause of leaves. I was welcomed into the globoid embrace of exotic atmosphere, the convex curvature of mildly complexioned skies above an especially salient feature, with the stable presence of bulbous hills overlooking the scene from a polite distance in the backdrop… and this was all just within the first ten minutes of the first date! I quickly made ample room for Tea in my life and in return, Tea has ever since been Teaching and talking to me, taking me to transcendent astral parties and imperial other worlds on Her coiling sTeamy coat-tails.

Each day I meet with many facets of this dynamic spirit, from Her serene awakenings in mornings as we drift in a crisp waning daze through the ebbing tides of dreamland and in the afternoons surfing alpha waves, to Her more playful and adventurous incarnations which love to bibulously conspire on art projects and wax philosophical under full moons. Tea is now the trustee accomplice and co-conspirator of all that I write. She mingles with my mind in metaphor and lacquers my tongue with Her clarifying liquor as I rap and rhyme. I’ve become a bit of a Mad-Hattered-Italian-mother with Tea, officiously providing a bottomless bowl for all who visit.

Tea creates an energetic quality standard and is a barometer of purity in my life, where ever She goes must be up to her preferences par and is instantly designated sacred space. She is the soothing guru shrub, so generously aiding and abetting many meditative and conscious explorations. She has transformed the way I relate with my food and drink and the way I commune with the vegetal realms.

I feel right at home wherever I go where there is Tea; she is my trustee travel companion and faithful co-inhabitant. I just recently moved to Portland Oregon from Southern California, and am cozied up in an underground forest adjacent faery alcove, sitting with innumerous bowls of Tea’s kind brew each day, watching small parades of deer graze and raid the fruit trees in the yard. If any of you Tea-familia find yourselves in the rainy City of Roses, you’re invited…

Until then, farewell for now fellow wayfarers! Bowl bottoms up! Cha Dao Cheers and out!

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September 2013, Merlin Von Trott, Germany

Although I never would have guessed it, in retrospect, it makes sense that Tea would be such a big part of my life. I was always deeply connected to what I consumed because I grew up on an organic farm. I grew up drinking organic herbal infusions grown and prepared by my mother and organic teas (but never coffee). And since age 15, I was a Zen meditator with dreams of traveling to Asia.

Before I connected to Tea Sage Hut, I already understood that tea was a peaceful, natural means of connection and sharing. Drinking tea with friends had become a regular activity for me (although I have to admit we were drinking Yogi Tea teabags with milk!).

In the spring of 2012, I traveled through India, a country known for its love of tea. High up in the Himalayas, as the snows were just beginning to thaw, I met Lindsey, who was on a journey researching tea. We quickly fell in love and through our bond, I began to see the spiritual side of tea. On our first date, we drank Puerh with Buddhist monks. Within a week, we were regulars at a little Japanese tea cafe in Leh, where we would sip organic Japanese teas and eat Tibetan tea foods with a panoramic view of the snow-covered mountains. Before we parted ways, Lindsey showed me how to make simple bowl tea and gave me some tools and organic tea leaves to begin my own tea practice as I continued my travels and returned home.

Within one year of our first encounter, I found myself surrounded with tea in nearly every aspect of my life. I drink tea everyday, share Global Tea Hut teas and newsletters with my mom each month, and often serve tea to friends. And, when I listen to Tea, I also find a deeper connection to myself, Nature and the present moment. This is a continuation of the connection and sharing that I already knew to be a part of Tea. But there’s much more to Tea... I found in Tea a tool to integrate meditation into my day to day life. She gives me a way of finding a meditative mind, not on my meditation cushion, but in action. In the silence of a tea session and in listening to Tea’s nonverbal communication, I’ve found a way to listen to my heart. Within that space, I’ve also realized that Tea doesn’t judge. She’s such a loving teacher, and through Her love and patience, I can be more patient and loving to myself and to others. That’s something I want to do more, and to share with others as well.

Today, I am writing this from Tea Sage Hut. The last time I came to Taiwan, my main motivation was seeing Lindsey. But in being here, I ended up making much more space for Tea in my life. This time, I’ve come to Taiwan not only to visit Lindsey, but also very much to learn more about the deeper aspects of a life of tea. This visit has inspired me to connect with more of my tea brothers and sisters around the world and to spread the Way of Tea in my home country of Germany. If any of you are visiting Germany, contact me!

I’m grateful for Wu De and his students, who provide this Tea space and give people the opportunity to walk on this path. I’m thankful that they are doing this with all their hearts. And I’m looking forward to returning here a third time!

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August 2013, Ilyas Jetbayev, Kazakhstan

Hello, my name is Ilyas and I am Teaholic. Seriously, though, let me introduce myself: In between tea sessions, I am working as a postdoc in the Novosibirsk Biological Institute. I was born in Almaty, former capital of Kazakhstan—a beautiful country of nomadic people. Connection to tea in our culture is very strong. Tea is the first thing that is offered to guests in every house there. However, my first cup of Tea was in Novosibirsk, where I moved to study, at Novosibirsk State University. I don’t know what it was that made me curious about tea, but as soon as I started to seek for it, doors opened. Somehow, friends of mine told me about a teashop two steps away from the university that had been there for a long time. So I bought my first Bi Luo Chun there (and over-brewed it terribly). Still, the first sip of that extremely bitter tea was like a breath of fresh air to me. Later, my first tea teacher appeared and it also happened effortlessly. In fact, everything in my life connected with Tea has happened by itself as it is truly my Way. It took seven years of ups and downs, periods of fun, love and some kitchen drinking before I met this Tradition. During that period, I always knew that Tea is much more than a beverage, though.

I remember when I first met Wu De at a workshop last year. It was two days of deep immersion in Tea, and I received a lot of messages, but most precious was that, “there is a Tradition”, and this Tradition resonates with me. That message changed my vision of Tea and my attitude to Tea. Wu De inspired and encouraged me to make a lot of changes. Cha Dao became much more than beautiful words. At the end of the workshop, Wu De said that we would drink tea together again one day. I had no doubts because I felt so too. (And we have, both in Taiwan and again in Russia!) I was really grateful to my brother Maximushka for inviting Wu De at that time.

I always wanted to have a Tea club: a space for tea people to gather together to appreciate tea. I’ve made several attempts to organize such a club, but always failed. So I kept dreaming about it, until the seeds that Wu De planted in my soul started to grow. In September of 2012, I finally started to serve tea in my apartment. I did not have enough resources to buy or rent a special place for tea gatherings, so hosting them in my home was the only way to move forward towards my dream. Even a small step towards a dream is better than constantly whining about insufficient resources, I think. Since that time, my tea space has attracted many beautiful souls and we gather twice a week with rare exceptions. Since I joined GTH, I always have special GTH gatherings where we all drink the monthly tea together with all of you around the world. My tea space is open to everybody. Sharing Living Tea and holding space for people is a great joy and practice. Wherever I am I will keep serving Tea for sure!

In case you pass by Novosibirsk and feel a little cold, I will gladly warm you with a cup of tea. Just write me on Facebook. Otherwise, know that even in the remote corners of the world—even in Siberia—you have a dear tea brother raising cups to your happiness and health!

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July 2013, Tien Wu, USA

Tien Wu, née Baelyn Elspeth, is our Los Angeles ambassador of this tea tradition, and an incredible woman with a deep connection to Mother Earth and the Sacred Feminine. She took precepts in this tradition earlier this year, and received the name Tien Wu (“Heavenly Dance”).

She first met Wu De at Temple Tea in Los Angeles. Taylor is a dear sister-friend and I had been going to their tea sessions. Then, they hosted Wu De and I got connected to the tradition through these wonderful bowls of tea. “In that bowl, there I was and everything was in it. Presence, spirit, love, beauty, truth, sadness, strength, kindness, compassion, joy, warmth, life, death, space, movement, and stillness. The spirit of Nature itself manifested through this Leaf, awakened by hot water, and served up by this tea monk to nourish me.” What a beautiful memory!

Tea is for her a gateway into meditation: “Every morning, I hear the Leaf calling me to wake up and sit with Her. Every morning I find space, stillness, and magic. Every morning she is completely different, yet so familiar. As time goes on like this, I find myself carving out more and more time every day to sit in peace and silence, meditating with this plant.”

“The simplest side is the simplicity of tea; of tea not having any dogmatic, linear nature. This is true for myself and for serving others. When I drink tea, there is nothing I have to wrap my head around. I can just drink tea. That opens up the unknown and the emptiness of the universe. And when you can open yourself to receive tea, there’s a space of receiving and being in your true nature in the Daoist sense. In serving tea to others, I can give that to others without any expectations, unlike those you’d have with meditation or chanting. There’s no, “Whoa! I’m not ready for that!” Tea is so gentle. She meets anybody where they’re ready to be. When I started drinking tea, I was ready for a meditation practice and ready to go deeper, so She met me there. She took my hand and led me to rest in the roots. But if you want to experience tea as something delicious and stay in a more linear, mental state about it, you can do that, too. Part of the beauty of tea is that it has such a sensory surface experience. When I started meditating with tea, any hesitation to meditate ceased and I would just go, “Oh, I just really want to drink that tea! It’s so good!” Then, I’d find myself in a really deep meditative channel. There’s really something to this...

Tien is our ambassador in LA, arranging and organizing events, hosting tea gatherings and always plays a pivotal role in Wu De’s visits there. We couldn't imagine this Hut without her, and our lives would definitely be poorer as well. As of now, she is very committed to awakening harmony through tea and this tradition.

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June 2013, Triin Juurik, Estonia

I am a girl from the north: a small country of 1.3 million Estonians.

Mine is rather a coffee nation, but I got exposure to tea during the three years of my life spent in big tea drinking countries like USA, where I did lots of travelling; and England, where I went after my Social Work studies and where I worked with manic-depressive and schizophrenic people. I became a real teaholic in England (I admit I really enjoyed teabags back then, but how could I have known better?). I also worked briefly at a teashop in Berlin.

I had a very happy childhood, close to Nature and surrounded by loving people. Tea for me was a remedy when sick and something to keep you warm in such a cold country. I wasn’t a very ambitious child. When someone asked me who I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer was: “A clerk, and I’ll sell nice things in a shop.” And now I am just that—at a teashop called Chado. It’s tiny, but filled with an enormous amount of magic and beauty. I’m enjoying every aspect of it!

For all this, I cannot thank Fortune enough for meeting Steve (who you all know from his cool articles here in the GTH newsletters). I came into his office after my return from my travels abroad.

Soon, it will be seven years from the day when I started to help him with his work. (What work—I mean pure fun!). He is a dear friend and one of the kindest and wisest human souls I know. I’ve learnt so much from him. It warms my heart that we now have formed a community of tea lovers here in Tallinn.

When we finally saw Wu De in his chicken-yellow hat, stylish walking stick—right out of one of his scroll paintings—and open sandals, despite an Estonian snowstorm last October, everybody couldn’t help but fall in love with him instantly. The room where we held workshops was so full of tea-spirit, that even the steam from the bowls formed shapes of hearts. The depth of experience in drinking tea changed for all of us who attended those gatherings. It turned into a meaningful ceremony, as most of you have experienced yourself. It made me more humble and respectful towards Living Tea and offered so much more in other aspects of my life. I made room for a tea corner in my flat where I’ll enjoy tea hopefully with more and more friends. My first GTH newsletter arrived exactly on my birthday and it’s much awaited every month. I have a funny habit of hugging it before opening it each month.

I’m most thankful for good coincidences and a life that never tires to surprise.

Most likely I won’t see you all eye to eye, but we can notice each other’s reflection in the teacup when we raise it with GTH’s tea, and we can feel the tea spirit that connects us.

Also… My head is often in the clouds and I like origami!

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May 2013, Dawn Olivieri, USA

Wayfarer: A person who travels on foot; traveler, wanderer, voyager. Yeah, I guess that’s me, through my relationship with existence. What have I learned so far? That I’m here. Anything that comes to this space and meets me in this moment, I invite with the love and honesty that Truth embodies.

I wasn’t always the kind of person with time for tea. For a long while I was consumed by a fast-paced, jet-set existence of superficial trappings fueled by the ever-popular cliché that the grass is always greener. After hitting a wall layered in mortar, and made of my own philosophies, I sat grounded by my unhappiness and commenced to work through a very simple greed equation: If everything you put merit in is clean, new, and “better then everyone else’s”, the second any of it looses its “shine” it immediately needs to be replaced. Trapped in this shallow philosophy of comparison, when are you finally satiated? When are you enough? The game goes on infinitely. The answer is never. It’s a trap. Pulling myself from the wreckage of a toppled perspective, I began, beaten and broke, down my next path with only willingness as a companion.

I’m a girl that possesses a selective memory (not by choice) so the past and its events have always come in and out of focus—not always sure what is the mirage and what has actually happened. And the future has always felt so unpredictable and malleable, so aside from day dreams, I’ve kept clear of that tight grip on plans. But the present... that seemed delectably accessible. I call it my playground, my castle, my fort-made-of-bed-sheets, my Truth. I choose to spend most of my time Here/Now. I have also been blessed to share this moment with the vocation of an actress where being present is a commodity—a high priced bounty on the head of awareness.

Even before the Leaf, I found myself hot on the trail of Truth—the elusive yet ever-present conceptual comfort food. Nature emits it, animals survive under its grace and tea invites you down its dewy path. So I followed. For me, tea holds an honest space. It requires only truthful reverence through presence and the more you give to Her, the more she gives back to you. It’s the perfectly imperfect exchange. Imperfect because why should boiling hot water mixed with a simple leaf have the power to bridge a connection for you spiritually through the moment? Perfect in all accounts because of the very same notion.

She speaks to me in my moments that I share with Her. Maybe this whole dialogue is too philosophical or poetic in its explanation, but I find the way that Tea and I converse to be a bit difficult to translate. A tea wayfarer I am, for sure. Alongside the space the tea allows and encourages, we all as a collective, travel towards Truth. Imagine, all this happens in each sitting with a little hot water, tea leaves, and an energetic flow of reverence.

That’s the Truth.
or at least my Truth…
But I am you…

Just have a cup of tea and you’ll see…

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April 2013, Emily Hoda, USA

Hello Beloved Global Tea Hut! It is such an honor to introduce myself to you, my beloved brothers and sisters in tea. I had the privilege last month of being in Taiwan and arriving just in time to help send out last month’s packages and see just how much loving care goes into each one.

I had been a student of the Leaf for about a year and half when Wu De visited LA for the first time. He served Greg’s Galactivation Serum and I laughed with my friend for about a half hour after. I knew that ultimately the Truth and Light were being served in my bowl. I have spent my time since deepening my relationship to this beautiful plant and allowing Her to unfold Her mysteries to me.

I come from a land called Milford, Connecticut. It is about 90 minutes from New York City. When I was 18 I moved to New York City to study Massage Therapy and that’s where I found my teacher, Dr. Levry, of Naam Yoga. Naam opened my heart and changed my life. About 2 years ago I moved to California to help open the new headquarters of Naam Yoga. I am blessed to be doing what I love, opening people’s hearts through Naam Yoga and massaging all of the energetic blocks out. Currently, I am also a student of Traditional Chinese Medicine, studying at Emperor’s College in Santa Monica. I honestly believe that my life before tea allowed me the ability to recieve the heart message of tea so deeply. I am ever grateful to Alec Bridges, Colin Hudon and Wu De for introducing me to tea.

My life’s work is now devoted to spreading healing through energetic body work and medicinal herbs, including tea. I hold regular tea tastings at my house for friends so they can experience the heart opening and sacred space that tea creates.

Since being back from The Tea Sage Hut, I have gained significant perspective on my life. Being at the Hut I felt like I was visiting my extended family. Everyone was so loving and kind to me and I feel as though I have made life-long friends, and we have the best common interest in the world!

And that is why I am so humbled and honored to introduce myself to this world-wide community of Love and Light. I would like to be a beacon of Light and a source of inspiration to my fellow brothers and sisters of tea and look forward to eventually meeting each of you.

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March 2013, Adam Yasmin, USA

I’m humbled to be a part of a group of inter-connected tea people such as yourselves. I hail from the ‘Entertainment Capital of the World’ also known as the ‘City of Fake’, aka Los Angeles. How can one be of authenticity in such a city? Believe me, I ask myself that on a regular basis. Yet some of us live here in the desert-by-the-sea.

My background is that of a musician; someone sensitive, perceptive, intuitive, and adaptive to changing scenarios. Whilst performing world music in San Francisco in the beginning of 2009, I was introduced to Gong fu Cha at Om Shan Tea, an urban tea oasis in the center of the city. Immediately, I was entranced by the care and presence of ‘leaves and water’ while being in a cultural and intellectual hub. Om Shan Tea quickly became my mecca, my home away from home; and eventually in the beginning of 2010, I began my own practice of Gong fu Cha and shared it with friends and strangers alike throughout the city—akin to Wu De and the gift of ‘Roadside Tea’, yet off the road and in various art galleries throughout Los Angeles. Meeting Wu De in the beginning of 2012 was a turning point in my practice, having already been introduced to Cha Dao via his student Colin in Venice Beach.

I pour tea into my musicianship and musicianship into my tea and photography, as I craft digital fine art, all entirely produced via my iPhone only. With the ease of intuitive technology and keen observation, I craft my TE|A|RT similar to how one would paint. Some pieces are meditative and solem, while others are otherworldly, abstract, and surreal—all with the approach of beginners mind, perceptive to nuances within the dynamics of the resulting imagery.

Five years into the world of Gong fu Cha and Cha Dao and I’ve yet to begin to attain a holistic viewpoint on ‘leaves and water’. Looking forward to traveling in the name of music|art|tea and making it to Taiwan to participate in the manifestation of ‘Light meets Life’, to meet the leaves at their home, and to connect in person with you, fellow tea drinkers...

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February 2013, Skylar Rote, USA

I am a Woman of all trades. I live in Sunny Santa Monica, CA. I work in commercial casting, art, yoga, pilates, energetic healing. I am most happy drinking tea and creating beauty, weather in my designs or at the store in conversation with a stranger. I love to inspire the world around me.

Each morning I brew a bowl, I imagine where all of my tea brothers and sisters are sitting, what all of your stories are….

For me all it took was one bowl… all paths lead to the moment I first reunited with leaves and water: Staring into a deep lifetime of thoughts and memories. There were tears of joy and inspiration, and spurts of child like laughter. I left asking everyone I know, “Have you ever had a bowl of tea?”

I have found that tea connects all. It provides a door to the Divine temple within us, a place to find truth and wisdom and always a home. It answers all questions my heart needs to know, often washing away the ones that aren’t important. It asks me to let go of my mind and open my heart—to connect with my true self, even if just for that moment in time.

Connection: often in life we forget that the most beautiful things are generally right in front of us; that in each moment something new awaits and there is so much Divine beauty to explore in that. Tea reminds us of the present moment, it quiets the distraction of our daily noise and brings the Zen into our breath.

I have just returned home to LA from almost 3 weeks with Wu De in Taiwan. So many times we spoke about “Why Taiwan?” The answer is there in everything. The tea speaks the truth of its roots and the air shares its clarity. The sky expands to welcome us all home. The people are full of love and the fruit is deliciously sweet. The water is pure and the tradition so alive. The coals are always burning, water always warming, tea always steeping. No matter how far away we may be we are all the roots of the tree in the center of the Tea Sage Hut.

With this knowing and each morning bowl, I am reminded of what really maters in life. It brings me home, closer to the sky and the leaves, and deeply grounded within the heart of the roots.

We are all tea and tea is us all.

I am so blessed to have so many beautiful Tea brother and sisters. My heart goes to you all this month as we share a bowl of tea from afar!

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January 2013, San Bao, Germany

Greetings to all tea brothers/sisters/friends out there!

This tea story started in 1998 in Bali, where I lived at that time. (I was born 40 years before in Germany.)

It all began when I meet my teacher (Daniel Reid) and his wife (Snow) in Bali. Snow made the first cup of tea for me. She channeled the energy of Kuan Yin (who took me on as her student) and the rest is a long and wonderful journey.

I studied with Dan and Snow in Chiang Mai. Those five months were filled with Chi-gong, healthy living, cleansing the body and drinking tea.

Since 2002, I have been blessed with the task of making tea for many people in two health resorts on Koh Samui, in Thailand (that island and country which Kaiya forgets to mention in most GTH issues!!!).

The first time I heard about Wu De was through The Leaf. Then, I bought The Way of Tea and loved it. And, finally, I visited him in Miao Li. Although I can only stay in one or two days at any time, upon leaving the tea center I feel rejuvenated, as though I have been in a timeless space. For me, there is something deep and old between Wu De and myself.

When I read the story about Baisao in Wu-De’s book, I was blown away. Not only do our names sound similar, but, like Baisao, I serve tea based on donation and I am fond of writing tea poems. Here’s one tea poem I wrote:

If you have any trouble
Drink a cup of tea
If you have no trouble
Drink a cup of tea

The tea teaches me so deeply. When I am in Taiwan, I am happy about the great Taiwanese people I am able to meet, the mountains and their misty pathways. And in Thailand, I am happy about all the people who come along for tea. There is always silence and ruckus as well, as sometimes I make tea for 20 to 30 people from many different countries. It is not always “meditative” —though someone always tells me how it showed them something deeper.

I do not “know” much about tea. My first Zen master—Zeane Lao Shin—took me as his cook, because I had no “idea” about cooking... and sometimes I have that feeling about the tea as well. Every time I visit Taiwan, another door opens and I keep learning. And I am grateful for all of it. For now, my friends, that is all. Blessings, Love, Light, Health, Success and great teas wishes to you!

Just one more story: Through tea, sometimes we not only meet friends. My brother Yeshe met his wife through tea, and I met my beloved ten years ago through tea. So, take a deep look into those with whom you share tea... you never know what may happen!

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December 2012, Nick Dilks, United Kingdom

I am fairly new to tea having been introduced to Oolong by my good friend, San Bao, who runs the tea ceremonies at the health spa we both work for in Koh Samui, Thailand. That was about two years ago. Before that, I had been put off tea as a young kid who was forced to drink milky ‘builders’ tea by my Dad at mealtimes! Later in life I got into Buddhism, particularly connecting with Zen, and was surrounded by inspiring stories of monks sipping tea in the mountain peaks... I desperately wanted to like tea, and even had a friend who did Oolong tea ceremonies, but found myself the lone Buddhist at our center who didn’t drink tea. . .

However, two years ago I sat at San Bao’s tea ceremony determined to give it another try and a lovely Kwan Yin Oolong tea was placed before me. I drank it and, lo and behold, I loved it! I immediately bought a starter kit: a tray, some cups and a couple of tea pots, and I’ve never looked back. I started to give other teas a try and found something miraculous happen: though I rarely liked them at first, maybe after ten brews some started to taste great. Perhaps this was my palate slowly given up my association of tea with my Dad!

San Bao has been very helpful all the way, sharing his passion with characteristic big heart. He also introduced me to Wu De by way of Wu De’s first book and the old Art of Tea magazines. He also told me about Global Tea Hut.

In December I had the good fortune to visit Taiwan with San Bao and his partner, Gila, and had the opportunity to visit the Tea Sage Hut community. We had such a great time, and I would recommend that you all get there if you can. I love receiving my tea package from the gang every month. It is lovely to think of you all around the world, and because I am so new to tea, each month so far has been a new type of tea for me.

Normally, when I get into something I go mad reading books and trying to find out as much as I can about it. But with tea something different is happening: I am just enjoying whatever comes my way . . . and rather than seeking to master the subject of tea, I am waiting to see what the master, the Leaf, has planned for me!

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November 2012, Antonio Moreno, Spain

I opened Čaj Chai Teahouse in 2004, motivated by my longing for a space to drink tea as I became accustomed to while living in Prague in the 90`s… Barcelona didn’t have a single specialty teahouse dedicated to pure teas, so my girlfriend at the time and I went out and made it ourselves! Our logic was that if people were content drinking artificially aromatized tea with little attention to preparation, surely they would flock to our teahouse once they found out what traditional tea was really about. And they did… but the flock sure moved slowly…

Once we made the crazy decision to embark on such a pure venture (no alcohol, no smoking, no coffee), in a festive country such as Spain, I began devouring tea literature of every sort, and ordering as many samples as I could get. Thus began this endless pursuit to understand and appreciate tea better, a search that progressively led me to seek out better and better organic and traditionally processed teas and to learn, experience and share the greatness of tea in a much more profound and spiritual way.

I first contacted Wu De years ago, when I read his articles for The Art of Tea Magazine. His beautiful writing resonated deep within me. I wish I could have met him there and then and shared tea with him. I also loved his artwork and wished we could exhibit them at Čaj Chai, so I wrote him and asked him about it and he replied affirmatively with such great enthusiasm, generosity and appreciation! Over time this exhibit clearly became an installation!

Global Tea Hut is an amazing initiative that I’m happy to be a part of and share with our customers. Every month we hold GTH gatherings at our teahouse or, weather permitting, somewhere out in the open. Each month our group continues to grow, even if it’s admittedly difficult to get everybody together on a given day. I also make it a point to invite 1 or 2 new people to the group to experience GTH for the first time. I also let people repeat the experience when I see they are really appreciating it, even though for one reason or another they haven’t signed up yet... GTH is clearly not about exclusion! All knowledge is meant to be shared. May we all drink organic tea; may be all find peace in drinking organic tea and knowing we are supporting good people, good farmers who are caring above their land and us people more than the size of their harvest. We are forming part of something truly beautiful on a global scale.

This month I’m at Tea Sage Hut, living a blessed life, learning, sharing tea and meditating with Wu De, Kaiya, Lindsay, Daniel and others passing through. I don’t want to speak too much about it now because I’m very much living in the moment… but when I return to Spain I’ll be sure to write in depth about my time here with them! I’d love to share what they’ve shared with me and share a bowl of tea with all of you. If you visit Spain definitely get in touch.

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October 2012, Jared Krause, USA

Jared Krause was born in Ojai in 1979. He got a BFA in Film and TV production at NYU film school and an MA in Western Classics from St. John’s College. He worked for some time on a production company he created with a partner, moving to LA to do so, but decided that the upward climb through the film industry was too crooked, like one of M. C. Esher’s paintings.

Jared has a huge heart, and needed to do something that would have an impact on his community, humanity and the Earth. He has worked for various start up companies that are trying to change the way we live, towards a brighter future we all know, deep down, to be possible.

Currently, Jared is the co-founder and developer of Trade Ya (www.tradeya.com), which aims to restructure the economy based on trade and barter. We often assume that bartering is a primitive, less-developed form of economic exchange. However, bartering doesn’t necessarily entail a step backwards. There are many aspects of bartering that help solve many of our economic and environmental problems—solutions we encourage you to explore by trading there. After all, the way human beings live and interact is the only real environmental issue. The Earth doesn’t have an environmental problem, actually. It doesn’t have Nature problems. It has a human problem!

Geniuses like Jared, with big hearts that really care about the Earth and their communities, are going to fix this world, if it isn’t too late. We hope you get the opportunity to have some tea with him, and pick his mind for any solutions you need! He’s been essential to the development of this Hut, and will continue to be thus in the future as well.

Jared started drinking tea at Temple Tea. He says that he once felt it was “just a beverage, and not even one he particularly liked,” but the tradition that was brought to LA changed his life, and now, “the leaves have woven themselves into my life in an unmistakable way. Bringing me together with new friends and old day after day, week after week, for a ceremony of laughter, self-reflection, connection and joy—tea has become an irreplaceable part of my life.”

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September 2012, Alec Bridges, USA

I grew up in Laguna Beach, CA. When I was 10 years old, I picked up a guitar and didn’t set it down until I was 20. Even then, the rest was brief. I had a major awakening and set music to the side for a short time to get my health and spiritual life together. I discovered yoga and Vipassana meditation and dove head first into both, which eventually lead me to start teaching yoga and going to school for Ayurvedic medicine. Halfway through my schooling, I met the frontman of a South African band called “Just Jinjer”, who happened to be looking for a new guitarist. He invited me to join his band and tour all over South Africa, so I packed my bags and off I went. It was a bit of a shock to go from my simple life of yoga, meditation, school, and the occasional small show in my hometown to flying to the other side of the world and playing in front of thousands of people, literally over night. That went on for about two years, but in my heart, I did not feel like I was on the right path. I had a lot of my own music left to make, and I wanted to live a more grounded lifestyle, so I amicably parted ways with the band, moved back to Laguna Beach, started recording my own music and went back to school.

Currently, I live in Los Angeles and go to school for Traditional Chinese Medicine at Yo San University. It is there that I met Colin Hudon, who introduced Tea and Wu De into my life. For that, I am forever grateful. My first experience of tea was at a workshop with Wu De at Temple Tea in Venice, CA. I never could have imagined how deeply it would touch me. It slowly and gently brought me into the wonderfully clear and meditative space that we are now all so familiar with. Prior to this, I had only ever felt that way after long hours of meditation. From the morning, until the late evening, we drank tea, starting with an unprocessed Oolong and ending with a very special tea that was stored underneath a Taoist Temple and chanted on under the light of every Full Moon. By the end of the day, I felt so clear and centered. I knew I had stumbled upon something invaluable that would be a major aspect of my path.

My aim now is to bring all of these facets of my life together in a harmonious way that touches, inspires, and brings healing to many people—be it through acupuncture, serving tea, or music. Musically, I am just beginning to scratch the surface of incorporating tea into the creative process. I will be releasing a new album - In A Stream, in the early Fall of 2012. It is full of meditative energy. I am also starting a project called Dhamma Records, which will contain music made from old students of Vipassana meditation. All of the money received by Dhamma Records will be donated to Vipassana centers across the globe.

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August 2012, Jarrod Quon, USA

I was born in Portland, OR to a Caucasian woman and Chinese man who named me after an actor. As karma would have it I have been a performer all my life and enjoyed and lived for laughter and applause. So it is of little surprise that I spent much of my time in school studying theater and comedy. From Shakespeare to improv to street performance I studied it and performed it. This lead me to many different schools in far off places like the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater, Whitman College in Walla Walla WA, and now Los Angeles where I currently am being taught by life in the mecca of the entertainment industry. I have appeared on a TV show, and made a few movies and commercials.

Tea has only recently had a noticeable impact on my life, and with my meeting Wu De and traveling to Taiwan to study tea, I began to fulfill the rest of my karma of being born half Chinese. I am now bringing the two parts of my life together by creating a documentary about the world of tea this magazine speaks of and bringing it back to Hollywood so the rest of the world can know the love, peace, and connection we experience with each bowl.

The film will follow the journey of the Leaf, from sunshine to leaf to basket to factory to store to bowl to man and then back to nature. This is the story of tea’s journey through man, not man’s journey through tea. As we follow along, the leaf will share with us the many things that it deals with that seem so small and insignificant yet play a very large role in the creation of each leaf and each bowl of tea. The many great masters of tea that we have read of in these pages will be our guides and interpreters as we follow along on this journey. They will reveal the subtleties and great wisdom of the path tea takes and in the end have us know how precious each moment of life is and how a simple bowl of tea is the best way to remind us.

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July 2012, Shane Marrs (Shen Su), Canada

My name is Shane Marrs. I grew up in Vernon, British Columbia, Canada. After graduating with a science degree in mathematics I took a break from the academic life, went tree planting in B.C., and decided to travel thereafter. Influenced by my university exchange to Japan, I found myself living and working at a Shinto Shrine in Washington State as a student of Shrine Life and Aikido.

My next excursion took me to Costa Rica, where I would offer my support on a ranch in return for food and shelter. Getting back to the land was a very moving experience. Now in love with farming, and already well in love with tea, I thought of a way to bring those two aspects of my life together, and that took me to Hawai’i.

It was on the Garden Island of Kaua’i and the Big Island of Hawai’i where I would first encounter tea in the flush. Again, I would volunteer my time on farms in return for the bare necessities and an opportunity to live out my new dream: tea farming. That dream, like a tea bud unfolding only to present another, would last for six months across two islands on three different tea farms. I also learned about Organic & Natural farming, Permaculture, sustainability, and self-sufficiency, thus reigniting my family’s green-thumb tradition in farming, and also starting a green-tongue tradition of my own.

My interest in the roots of tea, both metaphorically and literally, took me to Taiwan for three months. I would learn about all aspects of conventional tea farming, Oolong processing, and life in a tea village. I stumbled upon a very special place during that time: the Tea Sage Hut, where I plan to return and live a life of Tea and Spirit, Cha and Dao, in the company of so many amazing tea brothers and sisters.

For now, I’m headed back to Costa Rica to intern on an organic farm at a rainforest eco-lodge.

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June 2012, Steve Kokker, Estonia

I grew up in Montreal, but even from early childhood I can remember feeling that somehow my true home wasn’t in Canada. Even in elementary school I’d stare at photos of Europe and imagine that that’s where I belonged. I graduated with degrees in psychology and social work, then worked for a few years with schizophrenics before deciding to follow other passions: writing and cinema. I became a film critic for a local alternative paper and made a few documentaries.

From the early 1990s, I had made several trips to Estonia, where my father was born, and fell in love with the region. My ancestral home of Estonia became my base. I had already moved there without admitting it. By the time I felt it was time to stop travel writing, my love for tea had already developed into a full-time hobby. At one point I told myself to stop complaining that there weren’t any good teas in Estonia and do something about it myself. I started a tea importing business, and later opened a teashop. My great grandfather owned a few restaurants in pre-WWII Tallinn, and with my tea shop, I feel like I’m completing some ancestral circle.

I love to try to help the right teas find their hosts at the right time. There’s so much life wisdom in Cha Dao, and I know I’ve only touched the surface but if I can inspire some wonder of tea, as so many have done for me in the past, that’s what really makes my day.

Since childhood, I’ve surrounded myself with antiques, old photos and old books. I felt comfortable among footsteps taken, lives lived. With good aged, wild Puerh, my entire being can soak up the wisdom of ages. Tea has also taught valuable lessons on listening to the natural intelligence of my body and feeding it what resonates best with it on any given day.

I dream of lingering under a wild tea tree in Yunnan. To share simply-made tea with good friends in nature. Drinking tea with small-scale farmers on their tea gardens. To always be open to what tea wishes to show or tell me. To live the tea life I sometimes only think I do.

Steve can be found at his shop:


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May 2012, Suzanne Toro, USA

Suzanne Toro has expressed her gifts as a shamanic broadcaster, sound-intuitive healing channel, author, poet, food alchemist and “co-creator” in projects inspired to transform and rejuvenate humanity and Planet Earth.

Her love for trees and tea has opened an ancient part of her soul. Somewhere in the mountains jutting up from the valley and with a large body of water below, she seems to recall a time when she sat in a cave with a fire keeping her kettle of water warm for the next bowl of tea. She would sit at the mouth of the cave watching over the canopy of trees, as the sun would reflect the earth’s beauty on the still water below. These memories of long periods of silence and unwritten prose fill her heart with each sip.

As she allows the past to drift with the morning mist, she has welcomed her ancient friend Tea into her healing practice and sanctuary where each visitor abides in a warm cup of tea before they drift off into their harmonic sound-bath conducted by their soul and orchestrated by her. Ahh the wisdom of tea....

Suzanne says about herself:

Who am ‘I’? In all truthfulness, I am ‘Nothing’.

I have gathered endless words to describe my accomplishments and often what seemed like exaggerations to justify my own self-worth. When, I get to the core of my existence in this moment, I realize with great humility that “I” am “Nothing”. And with great joy I feel the freedom in those words and in embodying that truth. Within “Nothing” I have found the possibility for “Everything!”

She can be found at

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April 2012, Maxim Shvedov, Russia

Max Shvedov was born on 25th, July 1987 in Abakan, Russia. After high school, he entered Tomsk State University, moving one thousand kilometers west to do so. In 2010, he graduated from University with Bachelors and Masters degrees in international relations. He then entered graduate school to study Orientology at the Institute of TSU. He still lives in Tomsk and now teaches Chinese and works as a translator.

Max fell in love with tea at an early age, buying his first tea set with money his grandfather had give him for his 16th birthday. Since then, many things have changed in his life situation, but never his love for tea. He says tea has taken him many places, and in each place he’s met beautiful people. “I had been drinking tea for ten years, but only last summer did I have my first true cup. I remember every detail of that day when I stepped into the Center, Tea Sage Hut. I spent two glorious days at the Center, met my teacher and brothers, who I felt I had always known and been searching for. Here was a place that embodied the spirit of tea I had always longed for.”

Max has tilled the fertile soil in Siberia, where we plan to open a center in the next few months. He embodies so much of the spirit of this tradition, leaving others impressed by it and the changes it has made in his life. He will hold weekly tea gatherings at our new center, and organize workshops to host teachers from Taiwan—thereby watering the plants that we know will take deep root, like the ancient and wise cedar guardians of this antediluvian land.

We should all feel proud to count Maxim as our tea brother. His humility and grace are inspirational. He is one who truly serves tea, and will play a large part in the awakening of Heart into the consciousness of this Earth, through the medium of tea.

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March 2012, Greg Wendt, USA

Introducing “G-wendt.” I call him that because it sounds like the name of a magical man living in a magical place, and that’s as accurate as anything I’ve got on Greg. He describes himself as a “translator”: translating the mystical, supernatural, spiritual and Divine into the parlance of our times, finance and business. Strange as it is, by day Greg is VP of Sustainable & Responsible Investing for EP Wealth Advisors, a billion dollar investment firm. Even stranger is that he does the same thing by night.

I don’t mean he’s a workaholic, but rather that he has one of the most harmonious integrations of work and life I’ve ever encountered. He’s one of those rare magicians who seems to get paid to do what he loves and to almost seamlessly blend all the different parts of his life, until our usual mundane descriptions fall apart. Which brings me to tea...

Six months ago, tea for Greg was a nice beverage: Hot, sometimes tasty, good in the morning or evening. This afternoon as we sat drinking the first tea from Global Tea Hut, surrounded by gorgeous Zisha (purple-sand Yixing) teaware, talking about what Greg calls “Galactivation” and the cosmic intelligence transmitted by the tea leaves, I realized that Greg’s so-called “translation skills” transcend those proposed on his business card. As a master translator, his skill really is understanding; listening; being present to meaning and content; and, moving that meaning and content from place to place as elegantly and efficiently as possible. And that’s what tea has become to Greg: a vehicle for translating the intelligence of the cosmos into the intelligence of the tea tree, and then into the intelligence of his own human form...

Greg Wendt is a financial advisor for responsible, green investment. He’s also a tea lover, day and night. And he’s one of our most beloved brothers, sitting right there across from you in this Global Tea Hut.