Let's review! We are human beings. The world we live in is sick. Since we are a part of this world, a part of us is also sick. Therefore, we need medicine, the one most conducive for a human being to get well. Our working hypothesis in Tea Medicine is that tea is the best medicine for this sickness. Our conclusion is, hopefully, that tea will make us well, which will therefore help the world become well. We've set our intention to perform the daily experiment of tea within our own bodies. We now need to gather the materials necessary for us to conduct it: leaves, water and heat. This chapter addresses the first of these, tea leaves.
By "leaves" we mean real leaves: pure, unadulterated, natural leaf growing wild in fertile earth. We will not pollute our experiment with any leaf that does not fit this criteria, otherwise we will not be giving the hypothesis a fair trial and we may become skeptical of the results if they don't approach our conclusion of wellness. So how do we go about finding leaves that match our criteria? Knowing that the world is sick and human beings within it are also potentially so, our best option is to find humans who have become well through tea who are able to provide us what we are looking for.
When looking out into the wide world to find the right leaves, you will encounter a spectrum of sensitivity. There are endless storefronts with the word "tea" in their names and countless boxes labeled "tea" lining the shelves of stores. A vast majority of these do not contain the "Tea" we are looking for. Maybe better put would be as Wu De has said: "She's in there somewhere." The import is that Tea is always in tea, but the sensitivity required on the production side was lacking that would bring Her out as She would want to be. On our side, we might be sensitive enough to find her in this weak medicine, but we'd likely be navigating through a lot of secondary negative qualities in the tea that are not likely conducive to our health. We do not want to jeopardize our scientific control (working only with living tea) in this experiment! Therefore we cannot always count on finding medicine in the mass of tea available to us through conventional channels.
Skillful searching on the Internet might lead us in more useful directions, but here we still put ourselves at the mercy of appearances. Our job isn't to weed out nefarious websites selling suspect teas, although of course we do have a chance of coming across bad players in the Wild West of online tea buying. I have found that for most part, online tea vendors are nice people who represent themselves honestly. What we must always bear in mind is that not all tea vendors have an interest in tea as medicine. Even those who are interested in tea as medicine don't only sell medicinal tea! In fact, the medicinal qualities of tea are very subjective and hard to define! In many ways, the healing properties of medicinal tea are impossible to describe in a paragraph. What heals us is not the flavor profile or the tea's particular terroir, although thankfully these come along for the ride. No, what primarily heals us is energy, or qi.
Yet before we go on a crazy quest to buy the tea that contains the most energy, let's review our current chapter. The first paragraph of this chapter's lesson describes a puzzling conundrum, one that is of great concern for a scientist looking for objectivity. To speak of the Qi of a Tea is confusing because "once you drink the Tea it's a part of you". So where is it? In my experience, I have not found pinpointing the location of this qi to be necessary for healing (or even good science!). You'll just know it when you feel it. You might not be able to properly describe it for another, and even if you can, something usually gets lost in translation. Here, objective science dissolves and the experiment becomes entirely personal. Did you really think Tea would want you to prove to the entire ailing world the one and only way for it to heal by way of your words? Tea seems to want its message disseminated in secret, pregnant silence.
We still haven't found our living tea yet. Both our own sensitivity and the depths of our own illness are determining factors for whether or not we'll find what we are looking for. Lest we feel overwhelmed, Tea Medicine has pointed the way as each chapter developed. Hopefully we have been willing participants in these sessions. Whether we were able to find and drink these same teas as we read or just imagined doing so, now is the time to make sure we know how we might acquire them. Here's a recap...
In our First Session, we drank old-growth puerh from Nannuo. Nannuo is a tea growing area in Xishuangbanna prefecture, Yunnan province, in the People's Republic of China. It is filled with many old tea gardens that meet our criteria for producing living tea!
In our Second Session, we drank some earthy aged puerh of unknown origin, but as all puerh comes from Yunnan, the birthplace of tea, we know at least that much.
In our Third Session, we drank some red tea, again from Yunnan. (I sense a theme developing here.) Red tea from Yunnan is called "Dian Hong", "Dian" meaning "Yunnan" and "Hong" meaning "Red".
In our Fourth Session, we drank the infamous Sun Moon Lake red tea from Taiwan, known now to members of Global Tea Hut as "Elevation", the only tea sent out to members every October!
In our Fifth Session, we drank a whisked green tea called matcha, prepared skillfully by a master. For our purpose of sourcing the right leaves for our experiment, let's leave this one alone, unless your fortune has you come across a master who can prepare this kind of tea for you.
In our Sixth Session, we drank Cliff Tea, oolong tea hand crafted on Wuyi Mountain in Fujian, China. As with matcha, we experienced this tea prepared with great skill and until we're ready to do that for ourselves, let's leave this one alone as well.
So here's what falls out of these sessions so far:
- For reasons of complexity, exclude powdered green tea and special oolongs for now.
- It's hard to go wrong with earthy puerh or red tea from Yunnan, prepared as leaves in a bowl or brewed in a sidehandle pot.
- A subscription to Global Tea Hut will get you some "Elevation" come October.
Finding sources for real, living tea is of paramount importance to healing. Knowing this, but also knowing that mixing profit with tea can adversely affect the relationship one has to its healing energy, Wu De has reluctantly but generously offered an assortment of teas for sale through the Global Tea Hut website. Availability is subject to change and usually these offerings are sold out within a couple of months. At the present time, there are 3 red and 3 puerh living teas available for sale. It should be noted that a) all the teas available for sale were either partially or fully donated to Global Tea Hut for them to offer to you and b) all proceeds go towards the building of a new tea school in Taiwan whose mission is to share the wisdom of living tea throughout the world. In our tradition, tea teachings are to remain as separate from tea transacting as much as is necessary to keep each side of the equation pure. If you've found Wu De as an author genuine and inspiring as you've worked through Tea Medicine, you'll surely have no problem using Global Tea Hut as a tea source when it presents itself, knowing where his heart is. I can assure you his intention in writing Tea Medicine was not to profit from an increase in Global Tea Hut subscriptions and tea sales!
A Life of Tea Practice: An invitation to Living Tea
A friend of mine once asked me: "So, should I basically just always buy whatever Global Tea Hut is selling?" My answer would be a resounding yes! I regularly support Global Tea Hut through my own subscription and through purchasing their annual tea offerings. I also invariably experience deep healing when I drink and commune with them. In more than one instance, I've had to ration what's left of certain tea cakes, having experienced a repeatable healing energy in them that I know will help others I come into contact with that might be suffering from very specific human illnesses. You, too, should have these same conversations so that you can become someone who has been deeply healed and then become someone capable of healing others through sharing tea.
Ask Yourself: How deeply do I feel like I am part of this world?
Alienation from this world is the fundamental illness. Living Tea breaks down the separation between self and other, and even subject and object. This must be experienced to be understood. It can be experienced through the sacrament of medicinal, living Tea. Make space for Her and be healed of separation and anxiety!