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The Leaf Tea Magazine – Issue 2

 [ IMAGE The Leaf Magazine IMAGE ] 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.

As I have mentioned above, each article displays a high level of sophistication of the author (in both, subject matter and their way of expression) and will satisfy most tea experts with new insights. But the amazing thing is that very little previous knowledge is required to understand these articles. They somehow work on different levels, which is the true artistry of them. I’ll share some of my impressions about a few articles with you in the hope to inspire you to read through the whole issue. I’ll guarantee that you’ll enjoy learning about tea.

The article that I’ve read first coincidentally was the one that probably left the most lasting impression on me. Jeffrey McClouds article The Tea Sages of Korean Sacred Mountains is partly an overview of the history of tea in Korea and partly an account of his own experiences in this country. One reason his beautiful article struck a chord with me is the subject matter: he recounts the history of tea in Korea, a subject I knew very little about. As a matter of fact, Korean tea seems to attract very little attention outside of its homeland and this article might well help it to make the step out of obscurity by sharing information about it (as a side note, a recent discussion on RDFT showed a budding interest in Korean tea amongst tea lovers). But equally important is Jeffrey’s personal style. He recounts his visit to a hermit tea sage in the mountains. The description of the moment of his enlightenment with the monk in the mountains was so vivid, I almost felt like being there, seeing and smelling the scene. Very powerful prose, indeed.

Aaron Fisher’s article on Taiwanese Master Potter Deng Ding Sou is another highlight in this issue for me, much for the same reasons as Jeffrey McCloud’s article. Aaron’s respect and admiration for Deng Ding Sou is apparent throughout his very personal portrait of the famous potter. For me, it is the small, intimate details in his article that let you get a glimpse of Deng Ding Sou’s personality.

… he opens a homemade tea canister inscribed with the words “Crappiest stuff on Earth”, which he assures you is to mislead potential thieves from the fact that this jar actually holds the “good stuff”…

BTW, if you own an Easy Pot, you might discover the origins of this design in Aaron’s article.

The other more personal articles in Issue 2 include Marshall N.’s account of the opening of a 80-year old jian of Liu An baskets and Sandy Bushberg’s answer to the question Why America needs a Tea Renaissance.
But The Leaf always also contains a vast amount of information that puts some articles into the encyclopedic category. There is the obligatory column Gong Fu Tea Tips With, this time with Master Zhou Yu on the importance of fire in tea preparation. Other articles in the knowledge area are Robert J. Heiss’ in-depth discussion on Oxidation & Fermentation in Tea Manufacture which aims to dispel some misconceptions that have been around in the Western tea world for many decades and don’t seem to vanish too quickly; and Hung Chan Fang’s Introduction to Aged and Aging Puerh Tea. Since I know many of our readers personally and their interest in pu-erh tea, I’d recommend you all to read this article since it’s a perfect introduction to this type of tea. It contains an incredible amount of information in a relatively short article.
And last but not least, Aaron Fisher’s first article in a series of three focusing on Exploring the Tea Masters of Japan. If you ever sought an understanding of the Japanese tea ceremony (chanoyu), this article is a very good place to start reading.

My thanks go out to Aaron Fisher for investing so much personal time and energy to make a resource like The Leaf publicly and freely available. I’ll be more than happy to edit upcoming issues!

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  1. […] http://blog.yayateahouse.co.nz/2008/04/07/the-leaf-tea-magazine-issue-2/Aaron Fisher’s article on Taiwanese Master Potter Deng Ding Sou is another highlight in this issue for me, much for the same reasons as Jeffrey McCloud’s article. Aaron’s respect and admiration for Deng Ding Sou is apparent throughout … […]

  2. Pingback by The Leaf – Issue 3 just published | Ya-Ya’s Tea-Board | 2011/09/21 at 08:08:02

    […] As always, The Leaf is both, beautifully written and illustrated. I highly recommend to read through its articles. Although my summaries will be nothing but a clumsy attempt to give an overview of the wealth contained in the magazine, I’ll try to wet your appetite to read the real thing (as I did before for issue 1 and issue 2 of The Leaf). […]

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