Elevation offers us the chance to return to the foundation of our tea practice: leaves in a bowl with hot water. It reminds us once a year that all the information surrounding tea and tea quality is all mind-made. This doesn’t mean quality is completely unimportant, just that it is relative truth. If you put ten grams of very cheap one-dollar tea and ten grams of very expensive, fine tea in the forest, it all decomposes into twenty grams of dirt—and the frogs, bugs, the trees and sun all don’t care which tea we value more or less. The quality in tea is not absolute. The data, information, history and brewing methods are all real and relevant to humans, but have little to do with the plant world tea inhabits. Drinking a very simple, humble tea together each year reminds us that we aren’t here for fancy flavors or great experiences; we are here to learn from Tea and from each other. We are here to share in this global experience together, inviting harmony into our lives and hearts, changing the world bowl by bowl… Elevation reminds us that Tea is Tea: a simple leaf from the forest, here to remind us of our connections to Nature, to ourselves and to each other.
Elevation is also important environmentally. As our Extended Edition 2018 taught us, our values and choices impact Nature and the lives of others around the world. We have always hoped that Global Tea Hut could be much more than just an armchair discussion of environmental philosophy and politics—a debate that some will agree with while others will disagree. We want to make a difference in the lives of actual, down-to-earth people. We hope that this community can walk the talk, that we can change the lives of humans who are behind positive change, as opposed to just talking about the problem. Mr. Su Shui Ding was our choice because he is an incredible example of integrity and love. (We will share his story in greater depth in the coming section.) On behalf of this whole community, we offered to buy up whatever remains of Mr. Su’s tea each year so that he would never have to worry about making ends meet again. We could never afford this alone, but on behalf of this community, we can get it done together. Mr. Su cried when he heard this and said that now he can just focus on what he loves: farming.
Elevation is a no-nonsense, simple tea. Most of the Assamica in Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan is processed with greater oxidation and rolling to be sweeter. We have asked Mr. Su to oxidize ours less, as we feel the sweeter flavor comes at the expense of the energy of these old trees, and we also want the tea to be simple, bitter and astringent—closer to the nature of the leaves on the tree. This is the quintessence of a “daily tea,” one that becomes a friend through thick and thin—you don’t have to sit up formally or act in any special way around such an old friend. Hold this simplicity dearly, for as the Old Man says in the Dao De Jing, “the Way is a returning.”