Writing a blog on Tea….

Writing a blog on tea, I am discovering is like experiencing a great tea. Here’s how…

There are an array of teas to choose from (for my blog it is the people I have met and continue to meet).

Something at the subconscious level surfaces in a moment and I am attracted towards a particular tea. It could be a moment of feeling adventurous to try something new, or wanting the comfort of a tea well known to me. It may well be that I am open to the recommendation of a friend or an expert and in a state of allowing myself to be influenced. So it is with the people I meet. A tea aficionado I meet or talk with unravels an aspect of the tea business that resonates within and it brews, gathering momentum to turn into something  for presentation.

Just as it takes being in a relaxed focused space to experience a tea, the words of a tea aficionado have to be given the space to develop into a crisp share of their experience of being a tea aficionado.

The tea experience is the coming together of a number of factors. The ambience, the aroma, the taste, the subtle nuances, the accompanying accoutrements, the company or the quality of solitude. They all add to the final experience that settles into the sub conscious, only to resurface in that moment when you make a choice to relive the experience. It is a unique experience.

The link between the people I present in each post exists at a subtle level. It may, may not be evident. It maybe that it reveals itself gradually as you savour the words, the evolution process of becoming an aficionado. Either ways it is unique – just like a tea.

This blog is about an experience that knows no timelines or deadlines. The Tea Aficionaods have their moment of sharing their unique experience on a Tea Time(-line).

James Norwood Pratt

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My Chinese tea teacher, that crafty Taoist priest Roy Fong, always says tea is the product of heaven, earth and man coming together in harmony. Heaven is the climate, right down to the weather and winds during the short life of the leaf on the bush. Heaven is everything above the surface of the soil. Earth is the soil itself, the terroir from which the tea springs, each district with fresh particularities of difference. It is Man, the human factor, who combines these aspects of Heaven and Earth into Tea.

This Human Factor is what we find in Amita Virmani’s portraits of Tea People.

Besides everything else, a great deal of Care goes into every sip of tea and the Care is theirs. They are heirs to a pre-historic craft and alive as you and me today. But are we as full of hard-won tender Care?

Goomtee, the tranquil Tea Estate in Kurseong, Darjeeling

More than a 100 years old, the Goomtee tea estate guest house sits on top of a hill, past the factory that has the year 1899 stamped in a vibrant blue. I am in a room with a view of rolling tea hills that fall away into the distance. I can see the Jungpana tea estate on the opposite hillside. Jungpana, the tea estate that is inaccessible by road. More on Jungpanna later. For now it is with Ashok Kumar the owner of Goomtee, whom I met in his home in Kolkatta after a stay in Goomtee.

The guest house with a view

The Guest House with a View of rolling hills of tea

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Food for The Soul & Body

This week I would like to share food for the soul and body.

In Dr. Steven Owyoung’s translation of the poetry from the C’a-Ching I find food for the soul. Reading the poem gives you an experience of how tea was approached. How important was each ingredient, each action and the spirit with which the tea maker approached the action of making tea. The poetry is imbued with a reverence for each element. I am transported to another realm as I read. When the reading is accompanied with a fine tea in an ambience such as Steven has created for himself in the ch’i-yuan it can only take you to realms hitherto not remotely experienced!

(For an even more sublime experience visit http://www.tsiosophy.com)

From the sublime to the physical is a journey that is imperative. For it is the physical that can allow the experience of the sublime. Cynthia Gold gives us food for the body with her exotic recipes that use tea as a vital ingredient to enhance the dishes and cocktails she creates after experimenting with combinations, proportions and what have you. Cynthia to me is someone whose passion crosses boundaries and I cannot help but get drawn into the wonderland of cooking with tea.

Enjoy the feast!

Kevin Gascoyne

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“The leaf of this humble Asian tree strengthens our systems and balances our processes, enhances our days with soothing and stimulation, and improves our lives through cure and invigoration. From the garden to the cup: the cultivator to the drinker, a cross-cultural world of tea-folk share this exceptional state of well-being.

Amita Virmani’s Tea Afficionados Project is an extensive and on-going series of interviews with tea people from all over the globe.  Through the words of planters, tasters, bloggers, brokers and more she explores the many facets and fascinating dynamics of tea in the modern world ”

Kevin Gascoyne

Tea Taster

Camelia Sinensis, Montreal

Dr. Steven Owyoung – Art Historian translating “Chajing”

Steven Owyoung

Art and tea have a strong connection for Steve Owyoung who is an art historian and in the midst of working on an annotated translation of Lu Yu’s Chajing, the first book devoted to tea. A drinker of fine artisanal teas, he is happy to pay the dear prices for the handcrafted leaf he drinks.

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