Tuesday, March 30, 2010


(Small jar from Ming dynasty, a present from my tea master. The tea in this jar is worth a lot more than the jar.)

For 3 years I spent most of my Sundays at the tea shop. The weekly Sunday Farmer's market is held in the parking lot, sneaking a 10 minutes walk through the market was a leisure out of a day of work.

The past Sunday, a few friends and I was in the LB marina for lunch. At the marina parking lot is the 2nd street Sunday's farmer's market, a craft market has been added since the last time I was there which was at least 3 years ago.

A pottery stand caught my eyes, jars! Why do women like jars? Is it because we stay in the kitchen so much? Is it because we like neatness? Is it because we like orderly ingredients? Whatever the reason is, I love jars! Use to buy them at the 99 cents stores, glass jars, ceramic jars...

Moving into my tea drinking days, jars are more than keeping things in order, they are part of the decoration, it then turned into favoritism, as more jars are accumulated over the years, only good teas deserve the best jars. Unfair eh!

What's the relation between a jar and what it contains? I had not thought of that ever. Buddhism talks about reincarnation, every living matter on earth are reincarnated from previous lives. I love discovery channel and National Geo, a show about earth without human had a preview of what earth mater will become other than human. Concrete towers will become a pile of dirt in a few hundred years. By the same theory, a ceramic jar will return to its original form - a pile of dirt in x amount of time. Is this reincarnation? I think perhaps it is in transition of reincarnation.

A ceramic jar holds tea in this life, when it become dirt again surrounding roots of a tea tree, this jar will be part of the tree, giving the tree nutrients and minerals. This jar is now a living plant, tea is its physical form, kept in another jar. Spent tea leaves are put back into earth, decomposed into soil as part of the dirt, a pot maker one day decided to make a jar out of this part of the soil. Time, space, matter.... We are some what the same as law of nature....

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I have a Dan Cong old bush oolong tea named Missing Knot. In the last couple of weeks of post store days, the knot is in my chest, missing my days of hosting tea tastings, days of interesting people walking through my door, sitting at my tea bar, chatting away while drinking tea, then leave with a smile longing to come back soon. I miss it immensely! I miss holding a gaiwan gently shaking the golden dews of Dan Cong teas, landing each droplet softly into cups of golden liquors, ripples bouncing on walls of white porcelain cups. I miss the freedom to create my tea environment, playing with water, crystals, fire, smoke, discovering the taste of teas in combination of many parameters at the convenience of a well equipped surrounding. I miss the freedom to immerse myself in my own research and discovery of the tea world at will. It was sanctuary of my soul, where it was the most creative, comfortable and peaceful (minus the business operation of course)!

The reality is I was too busy with other important matters, I didn't want to lift my wound of closing the old store location. I am sure I'll feel better when the new location is ready to open.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Disastrous year on the hills of Phoenix Mountain

Posted on 3/11/2010, worst ice frost disaster since 1943, estimated lost 2 billion RMB.
Foot long ice crystals
I had experienced this 15 years ago in a cold winter of Illiniois. Never in my imagination to see this in Chao Zhou which is in a MUCH warmer climate.

Earth weather has been temperamental for the last few years, it's been coughing up a few symptoms in this new millennium. Tsunamis, earthquakes, warm weather then cold weather, freezing Springs caused failing crops. In 2007, China experienced the worst freezing temperatures across a large tea growing regions up north extending to the south. This year, it has come back, reaching far down south. Phoenix Mountains got the hit this year. Temperature reaching 5 Celsius degrees below freezing consecutively for several days. Ice blocks are as thick as a foot. The entire new growth are wiped out from 500 meters above sea level. 1/5 of the entire growing region is wiped out with 99% casualty. Other areas are affected with 30 to 50% casualty. Very few late sprouting varietals have a chance to survive and produce in later months, but there is no guarantee. Low altitude commercial grade teas are commanding 50% higher price than last year at this point. There will be VERY few high mountain old single bush teas this year, 1%!!! *sigh*

Other years of this time around, the mountain is covered with jade green leaves, vital and tender, so were the spirits of the farmers. This year, the mountain is covered with brown wilted young leaves limping over balding branches, much like the after math of a battle field. Lifeless and messy.

In the last few days, I have experienced and seen many vallies in life. Perspective has changed, fog is drifting away, I am able to perceive with a less tainted mind. What is important in life, what is essential in life, these are questions bubble in mind. When disasters strike and threaten lives, others whining about what color wall paints to pick and choose is the last thing I want to discuss. When families have to worry about how to put food on the table for the next year to come, others complaining about petty office politic at the comfort of a corporate shield is not something I find appropriate. This is the matter of how you circle your sky I suppose. Looking from afar, or looking from the bottom of a well. Most people choose to be in their own well.

When I first heard of the news, the initial panic was will I have enough supply for the year? Selfish bottom of the well mind set. Then my consciousness begin to feel for the people whom farm those lands, what will happen to those families which waited a whole year for the Spring, then hopes were shattered over night. My own concern seems so petty compare to the livelihood of the tea farmers and local tea merchants whom make a living solely base on this piece of land. I am not sure what I can do. Should I take a journey to Chao Zhou, lend a hand helpful or not, or just let time go by, let nature take care of its own course? What is the best I can do? What can I do if I were there physically?