world tea expo 2016

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I will be at the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas next week (June 15-16 only for me). Look for me in or around the Tea Journey booth with my video and still cameras. I'll be covering the Expo, interviewing some of the tea world's most cherished tea professionals. I'd love to chat with you about your company/blog/project, and share a cup of tea. Looking forward to seeing you there!

tea journey

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Greetings, friends. It's been a while, I know, and I apologize for my long absence. But I'm back and not only writing, but also creating videos for a new online digital tea publication called "Tea Journey". Tea Journey is a collaboration of journalists and tea experts from around the world, bringing content from the tea lands, much of which has never before been available in English. I am excited to be a part of this, and I hope you will consider taking a look at the Tea Journey Kickstarter page and perhaps even deciding to subscribe. Here is the link.

It's been great to be in touch with those of you who continued writing to me and sharing your own tea adventures. I value your friendship and your views on tea and tea culture. Keep writing! And thank you for being a part of my own tea journey.

a tea's identity

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When tasting teas, my goal is to understand the identity of the tea as well as to get a grasp on the palate of the merchant, farmer or craftsperson from whom it was received.  Unearthing the identity of a tea is similar to developing a relationship with a new friend who has their own brand of humor, intelligence, light in the eyes, curve to the brow, and perhaps a uniquely asymmetrical smile. His gait is recognized from a distance by the slant of the shoulder and the jaunt in his walk. He strides like no one else on earth.

Artists like Rodin and Michaelangelo made their reputations by expressing the unique identities of their creations through the smallest details: how a palm braced a forehead in thought; how the finger reached to the sky; how the gaze bore a compatible expression to the hip. Crafting from stone or paint or sounds a whole greater than the sum total of parts, an artist creates not just a piece of sculpture or music, but an identity that people respond to.

For me, a tea's identity has parts to it also, whose unique notes and expressions unite as a greater whole. These include the aroma of the dry and wet leaf, the appearance of the leaves as they change from dry to first steeping and finally to their last infusion; the color of the tea and its liquor, and the way it dances (or doesn't) in the cup. Then there is taste, mouthfeel and rhythm. The taste alone is necessarily unrepeatable The wood, fruit, floral or grassy notes play in concert with each other as no other tea ever has or ever will again. Combine that also with the mouthfeel of the tea--how its silkiness, dryness or briskness reaches across the different parts of your tongue and down your throat, and the aroma that subsequently arises.

Even the sensations produced by the tea in your body will make their own special mark--waking you up or calming you, bringing you deeper inside yourself or more expressive to the world. Not unlike friends, teas will bring out something in you that  arises in response to no other.

This is what I love about tasting teas. Each is a new acquaintance with a gift and message all its own--its unique identity. And best of all, some will, over time, become better known and cherished friends.


tea people

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Trying to explain "tea people" to someone who is not a tea person is like trying to express what a rainbow looks like to someone who is color blind. In Japanese, it is sometimes stated that a person "has tea". This refers not to what is stocked in one's cupboard, but what is stored in one's heart and mind, and the actions that ensue. A person who "has tea" is a person who has a depth of character that exceeds commonly held values, and a person who behaves in cooperation with his or her deeper knowledge and understanding.

He or she might live handsomely or modestly, but at the heart of many tea people is a person who feels deeply and has a strong value system that includes an appreciation of nature, of friends and family, and of the arts and literature. (S)he knows that life is brief and moments fleeting, and so crafts a lifestyle that reflects this vision, from the quality of food that is consumed to the quality of company (s)he keeps.

The tea person has a relationship with tea that rivals religion, and often can't help evangelizing, trying to save those who can't see "the light" or "the rainbow". Eccentric?  Maybe yes. Informed? Probably. Engaged? Definitely. 

A person who "has tea" knows that kindness exceeds other values, and acts on same. Like any "true believer", a tea person might sometimes trip and fall, but never fails to ultimately find a way back to kindness--the greatest of all values perhaps, and a sign of greater wisdom as well. 

What I love about tea people is their passion, not only for tea, but for the finest things in life--namely family, friends, art, poetry, nature and simple kindness.

Just my two cents.

polls

What do you think about organic teas?