In August, we reach the end of summer and the heat starts to break in Taiwan. It is the perfect time to start preparing roasted Taiwanese oolong and Wuyi Cliff Tea. The transition between seasons, as one is ending and another yet to come, is often the best time of year. It is when we notice the weather more often, and therefore feel a part of Nature. It is also the time for summer teas like Oriental Beauty and Elevation to start coming in, which means tasting those teas and traveling to Beipu and Sun Moon Lake. There are also a lot of young sheng and green tea sessions in August, as we say goodbye to the season. Some old-growth sheng from this year, like this month's tea, is superb at this time of year, as the tea has had a few months to calm down and the weather is perfect for it, especially in the morning.
The overarching theme for us in 2016 is finding new and exciting ways to connect this community. We are continuing to work on a website and app to facilitate global tea discussion and sessions. We continue working hard to provide video supplements to this magazine, showing you as much as we tell. We have also started airing live broadcasts on our Facebook page at the beginning of each month. Beyond that, we've started the 2016 photo contest, which was so much fun last year! This year there are even more prizes. And there is some other exciting news: we are going to put a portion of the money raised from this year's old-growth cakes towards a scholarship fund. We want to fly one person a year to Taiwan so they can spend ten days at the Hut. Eventually, we also would like to offer a second scholarship so that someone can come along on our annual trip for free. Once we have accumulated enough money, we will begin the submission process so you can nominate a friend who deserves to come!
The Center is in need of a photographer/designer/ tech-savvy volunteer. If you, or anyone you know, would like to come live in Taiwan, we are offering free room and board, teachings and of course the opportunity to serve the best tea community ever, not to mention to help create the best tea magazine in the world! Living at the Center for a half a year to a year is a great way to cultivate a deep, lifelong tea practice. It is enough time to gain a deep understanding of tea philosophy and our brewing methods. (And since I have started teaching the whisked tea temae of our tradition, there is now the rare chance to learn all of the five brewing methods of our tradition.) Contact us if you have a candidate in mind.
The relationship between music and Tea goes back millennia. The Chinese zither has accompanied thousands of tea sessions. Sound activates tea. One of the things I heard the most on our 2016 Global Tea Hut trip was that the sound of the forest changed the energy of the tea sessions, and also the Qi of the tea in one's body. Sound can definitely catalyze the energy of tea, which also means that we have to be careful bringing them together. There are instances when the music can intrude upon the tea, just as the tea can intrude upon the music. In the Center, we have years of experience working with sound and tea. Around the world, many of you have also held events exploring the relationship between Tea and various kinds of music. Some of the best sessions of my life were with musicians, like the legendary shakuhachi session in Kiev, Ukraine.
We decided to devote a whole issue to exploring the relationship between music and Tea, including the absence of music when silence is better. Often, we forget that music and the environment are as much a part of chaxi layout as the tea cloth, the flowers or the tea pillow. This is because the music is often in the background. It is a soundtrack, in other words. Similarly, we sometimes forget just how important the score is in creating the feel of a scene in a movie. But it is incredible how much of a difference the music makes. When it is working well, though, it remains subtle and supportive of the tea without overwhelming it. We hope this issue helps educate and inspire you to further explore the ageold friendship between Tea and music.