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The Leaf magazine

It’s been a long time since my last post and it certainly wasn’t a lack of ideas that prevented me from writing articles. The time before Christmas is always a busy time and then, when the stress subsided, we decided to take a well-deserved break.

But the new year is here and we’re steaming ahead with new energy. Much of this energy comes from some amazing teas we’ve been drinking over the past two months and from reading the newest publication in the world of tea: The Leaf Magazine.

Since the latter is easier to share with you through this medium of the internet, I’ll focus on that. After hearing from my friend-in-tea Aaron Fisher last week about his project of putting together an internet-only, free and (knowing Aaron) authoritative tea magazine, my curiosity was awakened. Two days ago I finally had a look at this publication which I believe has the potential to become an integral part of the English-speaking tea community online. Aaron works as editor for The Art of Tea magazine (more on that in a future article) and a certain similarity is obvious on first look. This is a very good thing since I believe The Art of Tea magazine to be one of the best sources of information on tea in English. One of the similarities is the quality of the content.
The first issue features 7 articles by some of the most highly regarded experts in the tea world (Master Ling Ping Xiang, James Norwood Pratt, and Zhou Yu amongst others) on such diverse issues as the basics of gong fu cha, green teas from China and an eye-opening piece from Aaron on the alarming change in tea farming culture in Yunnan’s tea tree groves, the home of pu-erh tea. The concept behind The Leaf was to produce an informative, beautifully illustrated and environmentally friendly (the articles are available as PDFs with printing disabled, nice touch!) English publication to further the knowledge about tea.

Aaron’s article Romancing the Leaf confirms us in one of our basic principles here at Ya-Ya: to source organic teas. He points out many problems that are introduced through chemical fertilizing and pest control as well as the catastrophic effects of over-harvesting. Since the magazine is set up with a section for comments, I believe this article will spark a lively discussion.

The other article that left me with a newly gained insight was Aaron’s conversation with Master Ling Ping Xiang about gong fu cha. I wrote an article on the gong fu tea ceremony here on this blog a while back, but I was focusing on the technicalities involved in the process. Master Ling’s advice doesn’t delve into the usual subjects of temperature, teaware or leaf amount but rather guides the focus to the person preparing the tea as the main vessel for the tea. Inner peace has as much of an influence as the preparation of the tea; and so does the company one enjoys the tea with.
I can personally relate well to this concept although my science-trained brain doesn’t make it easy to accept these non-tangible influences. For years I have wondered why my favourite Darjeelings only sporadically produced the ethereal cup that I came to look for even though I didn’t alter the brewing parameters. After approaching the problem from a scientific angle (adhering strictly to brewing parameters) without any improvement, I attributed the lack of substance to different levels of humidity or air pressure (some more scientific stuff). In the back of my mind I suspected it had more to do with my level of comfort, concentration on the tea preparation and other, more emotional factors; but somehow I never allowed myself to fully believe in that idea. This article helped me change my mind and I will make sure from now on that my mind and heart is fully with the tea preparation.

I hope my ramblings sparked your interest in this new publication. I encourage you to brew up some of your favourite tea, set aside some time (quite some time to read all of the articles), get comfortable in front of your computer and head over to the-leaf.org. I promise you’ll have a good time.

My thanks are going out to Aaron (and the other authors) for putting the time and effort into producing such a valuable source of information for free.
To paraphrase a colleague’s expression of “hitchhiker’s karma”, I think you guys have increased your tea karma noticeably!

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  1. Pingback by The Leaf Tea Magazine – Issue 2 | Ya-Ya’s Tea-Board | 2008/04/07 at 08:24:55

    […] The second issue of the free online magazine The Leaf has been published and my friend Aaron in his function of initiator and editor-in-chief has outdone himself again. I don’t know how he manages to gather articles by such an eclectic group of tea experts time and time again. But knowing him, it probably has something to do with the authenticity and genuine love for tea that he exudes. He’s very inspirational that way and even got me involved in acting as editor for the magazine. Therefore, I was forced to read these articles very thoroughly (I know, tough job, ey?) and learn heaps in the process. Issue 2 of The Leaf follows very much in the same direction that made the first issue (see my review of it here) such a major achievement: beautiful photos and high quality, in-depth articles that satisfy the expert and the novice equally! This issue covers topics as diverse as the portrait of Taiwanese Master Potter Deng Ding Sou, an expert treatise of the differences in tea oxidation and fermentation, as well as a detailed history of Korean tea and part one in a series of articles about the origins of the Japanese tea ceremony chanoyu, amongst others. […]

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