In July, the weather in Taiwan is very hot and humid. All the moisture that the puerh in storage absorbed in the spring is now activated by the heat, and the whole Global Tea Hut office smells of puerh fermentation. When we serve roadside tea, we serve sun tea, steeping loose-leaf sheng maocha in a large glass jar for two hours in the sun. We then add ice to our kama every half hour at our roadside stall, pouring in the cool tea by the pitcher and then ladling it into bowls as normal. We even put artificial, cooling blue flames under the kama for decoration. At the Center, we are drinking green tea in a bowl, young sheng puerh and occasionally some first-flush green tea from Japan or Korea, which is refreshing in the afternoon. This allows us to get out some of our Japanese kyusu and brew such tea, though we aren't trained and this is more just play for us. We have fun trying other brewing methods, including "essence brewing," which is when one brews just a few drops of very strong and very concentrated Gyokuro green tea.
Things are growing and evolving in this hut, as we rethatch the roof to accommodate more Chajin and redo the rattan walls, which, as any tea hermit knows, need to be replaced every few years that one lives on the tea mountain. This year marks a big change here at the Center, as we are moving into a course schedule. Moving in this direction is necessary as the community grows and we move towards the more permanent Center, Light Meets Life. Once the new Center is built, we will move into topical courses, including Tea and Meditation, several levels of gongfu tea, three levels of bowl tea, courses on how to serve tea and much more. For now, most of our courses are going to be geared toward an "Introduction to Cha Dao." So far, we have only one exception this year, which is a seven-day course on Tea and Qigong in September. These ten-day Intro to Cha Dao classes will immerse guests in a life of Tea, with lessons on tea ceremony, gongfu tea, experiments, linear lectures, meditation instructions, service, trips to gather water and to Yingge to see tea and teaware, and much more. Our aim is that you will leave at the end of ten days fully infused with a Tea life, and with all the skills you will need to start a daily practice at home. We will continue to evolve and improve these ten-day experiences as time goes on, including maybe starting with a three-day electronic fast for all guests and other ideas we have for making these retreats more beneficial. You can read more and apply for a ten-day course at our Center website: www.teasagehut.org
For the fourth year in a row, we set out on one of our annual trips to China, inviting this community to travel through tea regions with us. These trips have gotten bigger, better and more heart-centered over the years. In part, this is because we are better at organizing them, and better at getting the group together, which has been made up of people from countries around the world, and very different walks of life. Of course, there are the logistics of getting everyone there physically, but more important is the feeling of group love, camaraderie and friendship that ensues - which is a focused version of the sentiments of this greater Global Tea Hut community.
This issue is one of the ways that we make an effort each year to bring you all with us in spirit, documenting the trip so that you can come to Anhui with us vicariously. We hope that through the accounts of the trip, the photography and the amazing tea, you feel as if you were on the bus with us. It is also a tradition now for us to make some handmade tea on these trips, which we then add to some of the locally produced tea and send it out to you. Everyone on the trip tried their hand at drying some Maofeng green tea. And we asked them all to think of their friends and Tea family who weren't present as they did so, filling the tea with good wishes for all of you. Hopefully, some of that is transmitted through this month's bowl.
After each trip, we return to the Center in a calm tiredness, feeling a need for rest, but also filled with a warm glow that is so inspiring. On the last day, during the sharing, people expressed gratitude for the Center and Global Tea Hut, suggesting that these endeavors required a lot of work. My response was to mirror that sentiment right back at the group, and all of you: with such fine tea brothers and sisters to inspire us, this work is an honor and a joy. I hope this issue inspires all of you as well and that you feel a part of the smaller circle that traveled to Anhui together this year!
This month, we recommend taking the time to read through the May 2016 issue of Global Tea Hut. It is all about green tea in general. You may also want to read about some of our previous annual trips in the June 2015 and July 2016 issues. All three are on the "Past Issues" part of the site.