In September, the weather finally cools down in Taiwan. Of course, cooler weather means outdoor tea, and there is nothing like drinking teas you love in the outdoors, surrounded by the Nature that made the tea. Drinking tea outdoors somehow lets more in, which those of you who have tried such sessions will know. This is one of the best months for tea lovers, as we turn towards Wuyi Cliff Tea, traditionally processed oolongs and aged oolongs, as well as some aged sheng puerh.
Of course, September has a very important holiday for Chinese people, as the traditional calendar is lunar and this is the largest moon of the year (zhong qiu jie, 中秋節). This was an important time for all our ancestors around the world: the Harvest Moon. In honor of zhong qiu jie, we started a tradition of offering an Extended Edition of the magazine every year as the gift. (If you are dumping your envelope up and down right now looking for the gift, this is it!) We started this tradition in 2014, with one of the largest publications on puerh tea ever published in English. Then, in 2015, we translated and annotated the Tea Sutra by the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) tea sage Lu Yu. Last year, we published the largest English publication on Taiwanese oolong. (All of these marvelous resources are now up for free on the "Past Issues" section of our website.) And I think you get the idea now: we go full tea spirit on these September issues. This month is no different. You are holding one of the largest, most dense English publications on Yixing ever produced!
Some of you know that one of our long-term goals from the very beginning of this project was to start translating Chinese, and eventually, Japanese and Korean, tea texts from ancient and modern sources. We never intended for this magazine to be a mouthpiece for our tradition alone. The Center can serve as a place to house the teachings of our lineage. This magazine, on the other hand, has always been an attempt to create the best, deepest and most holistic source of tea information for all tea lovers. We aim to publish articles by many authors, from various perspectives and to cover tea in its entirety - from the geeky articles about tea biology, science and processing to history, travel and folklore, and, of course, what is so often missing from tea publications in English, the rich and deep spiritual practice and ceremonial use of tea that has a heritage of millennia of tea steeped, poured and adored as sacred work. In the beginning, we were limited by membership, which means budget, and could only afford the rare translation. As membership has grown, however, we have invested more and more in translation, and found amazing translators like Michelle Huang and Emily Foate, whose skills are a huge part of what has improved this magazine over the last year.
Through a deep, loving and wonderful relationship with the Liangs, father and son, spanning decades, we have been so fortunate to have been donated access to one of the largest, if not the largest, body of tea magazines and books to translate. Recently, we had some tea with another publisher, who also has almost three decades of books and magazines, about donating their work to this project, and they wholeheartedly agreed. What's great is that their main focus these past decades has been on Yixing teaware - publishing countless books and the longest-standing magazine on ware from the Teapot City! This means that this issue contains rare, in-depth and never-before-translated articles on Yixing. Raise a bowl to Huang Chien Liang (黃健亮) and his wife, Huang Yi Jia (黃怡嘉), and Peng Qingfu for their generosity, as this relationship hasn't just made this one of the best issues of Global Tea Hut ever, but will continue to enrich this magazine in the years to come as well.
And to have a whole Extended Edition devoted to Yixing, we had to offer an Yixing red tea, drunk in every home and shop in the Teapot City. For that reason, I traveled to Yixing this July. With the help of my Yixing teacher, Master Zhou Qi Kun, I connected with an organic Yixing gongfu red tea farmer, Shao Shu Da (邵書大), to bring you an amazing treat to brew as you read and learn about the best teapots in the world. We hope that this issue inspires you to appreciate Yixing teaware more, to learn all about its history and production, and to come to the very important realization that the world of tea is vast and deep, incorporating several disciplines of mastery. There is a lot that goes into brewing a fine cup of tea, from the Nature that creates fine tea to the master craftsmen who process it, as well as the centuries of discipline and tradition behind each piece of teaware we love. This respect for all the devotion and love that goes into making tea and teaware - not to mention the traditions of tea brewing, which also extend millennia into the misty past of prehistory - hopefully helps you to fall in love with tea more and to strive to protect the environments that create the Leaf we all love so much!
This month, we recommend taking the time to read through the February 2015 issue of Global Tea Hut, which is all about Yixing and Masters Zhou and Chen. You may also want to check out the issue on gongfu red tea we made in June of this year for some background information. Both are in the "Past Issues" part of the website.