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!
I can be reached for tea at (email protected)
or at my website: www.abodetao.com.