At the Tea Sage Hut, we like to shake things up. We get it from Wu De. Like any good Zen teacher, he teaches us to expect the unexpected, and then he surprises us anyway. There are many advantages to having a teacher like this, but one of the main benefits is that the center and all it produces get better and better over time. This goes for everything from the tea we serve to how we host visitors.
Luckily for you, it also means that Global Tea Hut is continuously improving. In 2014, there are a number of GTH improvements unfolding. As a way to welcome in the New Year, we'd like to share a few of them with you:
The post can be hard on your tea! Many of the teas we've sent out were comprised of gorgeous, wiry leaves or fat, downy buds or hand-rolled leaf-and-stem sets or dense chunks of compressed Shou... yet when they arrived in your home, they may have been damaged or even crushed.
Not only was this less than ideal for you, it was also disrespectful to the tea. And after lots of hard work, and the growing abundance here, we've found a solution: metal tins lined with rice paper.
As you can probably already tell from this month's envelope, these tins are a huge improvement! They are safe for mailing, they protect the tea from damage and (thanks to the paper lining) they don't impart any flavor or energetic changes on the tea. Now that's something to raise a tea bowl to!
You may be wondering about the environmental impact of these tins. We have three solutions for you: First, you can reuse them to store other teas. They are great for outings, especially when you are serving gongfu tea, as you can take several teas with you conveniently. Secondly, you could recycle them. They are made from recycled metal, and are fully recyclable again. Finally, we would like to offer you the opportunity to mail them back to us once or twice a year so we can resend them!
Those of you who have been subscribed for a while have seen significant changes in the look of GTH. Early issues held lots of experimentation as we found our style and began incorporating color printing.
We've heard feedback from many of you about the ongoing redesigns and the shift toward color, and we are thrilled that these changes have helped spread excitement about the contents of each issue. Once we reach 500 GTH members, we'll be ready to make the newsletters even more visually appealing with a switch to full-color, glossy, magazine-style newsletters for every issue.
One thing that's really awesome to note about this is that once we have enough members, it's a win-win situation for everyone involved. With a higher number of issues printed each month, the cost of printing each copy in full color is the same as it was for printing each issue in black and white last year. In other words, the same amount of money per person flows into the center, yet what we send out to you is better than ever! GTH reaches more people. More money goes into making the world's best tea center. And you get shiny newsletters that make you even more excited about connecting with Tea. Sweet!
From here on out, each mailing will go out with ample time to reach you at the beginning of each month, just as most magazines and other publications would. Rad!
Starting now, we are posting videos to our YouTube page every month. We are discussing some of the topics in each issue, answering questions you have, and of course explaining the Tea of the Month to you. Some of you have asked for more brewing instructions each month, so we will incorporate some helpful tea wisdom for you as well.
In these videos, we hope to not only help spread abundance and awareness about this project, but to help inform you, sharing some of the wisdom of this tradition with you in a different medium. This is just another way to learn and connect! Isn't that incredible?
OK, we've got full color, issues arriving at the beginning of the month... what else is making our newsletters more like a magazine? More journalistic articles.
Once we reach 1000 subscribers, we'll start investing a portion of GTH donations toward travel for article research. That means that we will be able to write more journalistic articles, featuring visits to tea origins (such as famous tea mountains), teaware producers in Taiwan and China, and more. This is a whole new (yet very old) world of tea we're opening up. Expect to read about tea origins, tea producers and teaware artisans in ways you've never read about them before. This is going to be awesome!!! Starting soon, you'll get more access to Eastern tea wisdom.
There is an astounding wealth of literature and poetry about tea in the Chinese language. And although the interest in tea in the West has grown sharply in recent years, only a fraction of these texts have been translated and then shared on a large scale. We'd like to remedy that with GTH.
When we're up to 1500 members, we'll invest a portion of our GTH funds toward translations of Chinese tea texts. This means that you'll have more direct access to tea wisdom from tea scholars, tea poets, tea monks and others who share your love of tea, but not your language (and, often, not even your century). This is just another way we aim to help you connect through tea, and we hope it will deepen your journey into tea wisdom even more.
So prepare to say "ni hao" to some serious tea sagacity!
We've worked hard to source organic / Living teas to send out each month, and we're proud to share each and every one of them. But the variety and quality are about to get even better than before, thanks to the article research I mentioned earlier.
When we travel to tea origins to interview organic tea producers, we have unique opportunities to forge new connections with supporters of Living tea. This means that we can reach more tea farmers with our vision, partner with more organic tea producers and expand the selection of teas we send out.
We want to start connecting to other organic farmers out there who love tea the way we do. We want to start connecting them to each other as well. Having the funds to travel and help raise this awareness is important to us. After all, we aren't promoting any farmer or group of farmers, but rather promoting sustainable tea production itself. We are behind the movement towards more conscious connection with the Earth through tea, in whatever form it takes. And we know that there are other like-minded farmers outside of Taiwan. We'd like to start connecting them to you, and to each other - both literally and energetically!
At 2000 members, we'll also begin to "upgrade" teas we send out. So if a tea producer in Yunnan is willing to donate a lower grade of their tea at no cost to us, we'll now be able to open up a dialogue about paying a discounted amount for a higher grade. In many cases, this arrangement is more beneficial to the tea producer (who gets money in addition to bragging rights) and to you all (who get better teas). And, obviously, we're thrilled to be a channel for this energy to get from you to the wonderful people who are making these organic and Living teas!
Of course, we'll continue to send out some of our old favorites each year. (Three cheers for annual Sun Moon Lake Red Tea mailings!) And we'll also send out teas you would otherwise never be able to access, providing you with a direct connection to the vastness and breadth of tea directly from the source.
These improvements is so mind-blowingly wonderful that I made a little equation to explain it to those of you whose jaws are dropped in stupefaction at the sheer magnificence of it:
More and better types of tea + a better magazine + even happier tea producers + a new tea center for us all = AMAZING WIN FOR EVERYONE INVOLVED!!!
As I mentioned, we like to make changes for the better around here. We'll continue to improve GTH over this year and beyond when new insights come to us from Tea and from all of you lovely GTH members. Have an idea for how we can make GTH even more awesome than it already is? Email us with it right now! We want to make Global Tea Hut an even more awesome experience. We hope that the coming improvements to the magazine, variety and quality of tea and packaging will make new tea lovers want to subscribe despite the fact that it is all for non-profit! In that way, our growing abundance will improve this experience and build a tea center we can all enjoy!