Ya-Ya's Tea Board

Ya-Ya's Tea Blog

The Leaf – Issue 3 just published

I was honoured again to help my friend Aaron Fisher and his amazing group of writers preparing the third installment of his free online tea magazine The Leaf.

There are many aspects that set this magazine apart from regular publications (online and offline) about the subject of tea, but one of the most important ones to me is its focus on the spiritual side of tea. While there are some articles that look at tea (or the tea market) from a more conventional perspective, it is the philosophical articles that truly inspire me to walk down the Dao (way) of tea.

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).

The magazine contains 2 articles by different authors about 2 different tea fairs (trade shows). The articles and the impressions that the authors gathered couldn’t be more different.
Nora Gubins visited the 2008 World Tea Expo in Las Vegas earlier this year and shares her (at times overwhelming) experiences that range from encounters with enthusiastic tea producers from all parts of the world to an invitation to “consider a tea franchise of sorts “as seen on Oprah!”. Her ventures into the heart of the tea industry are extremely interesting especially since, as a communications specialist, she’s not a part of it.
Her trade show experiences are starkly contrasted by Aaron Fisher’s article on his adventures at the 2008 Malaysian Tea Culture Expo. Judging by his account, this is much more up my alley and if I had the choice between the two, I’d definitely head to Malaysia to share some good tea with like-minded tea drinkers…

The next group of 3 articles is more informative in nature. Aaron’s second installment in his series on the tea masters of Japan is dedicated to the life and work of Takeno Joo. The message of Takeno Joo is deeply philosophical and an adherence to its basic principles (which are deeply rooted in wabi sabi) can help anyone to become a better human being.
The grand re-opening of Wisteria Tea House gives the reader an in-depth view into the history of one of Taiwan’s (and possibly the world’s) most charismatic and important tea houses as well as into the mind of its owner, Zhou Yu. It is a fascinating read about the counter-culture of intellectuals in Taiwan, a fortunate change in the political climate that enabled Wisteria to be what it has become, and the devotion and generosity of its owner.
The traditional column of Gong Fu Tea Tips with Master… is moderated by Master Ling Ping Xiang this time. While it contains some of the common instructions of gong fu tea preparation, the message of this issue’s tips is to not blindly follow the advice of some teacher but to try it for yourself, ideally side by side, to evaluate the effects for yourself. I really appreciate this kind of advice since it encourages to question as well as to follow your instincts

But the real substance of this issue in my opinion is contained in 3 articles that dive more into the spiritual side of tea. Two articles are devoted to Cha Dao or The Way of Tea. Henry Taiki Takahashi’s article The road to tea, the road to ourselves and Erick Smithe’s Seeking tea, finding Dao are both deeply moving and spiritual pieces of writing. They go way beyond what is usually communicated about tea (and make a point that communication of the real messages is not possible since it has to be experienced) and are great sources for inspiration.
Thomas Leon’s article Vegetable Tea argues the virtues of a vegetarian diet from a perspective of tea appreciation. His article is also great food for thought (excuse the pun) and will hopefully spark some constructive discussions.

The Leaf is a fantastic resource for anyone even remotely interested in tea. It possesses a stimulating power that I would love to share with you. Please head over to The Leaf and get inspired.

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