Webster's bookstore and cafe manages to be both calm and full of life. You can find refuge behind walls of used books or enjoy the brisk business at its small cafe and sandwich corner. There, at an open space with many tables and chairs, I gave a talk about my 10 years of tea study and enjoyment.
I started by showing everybody an open tea leaf. In this coffee (and tea bag) place, I wanted to show what real and natural tea looks like. I tried to talk with passion about what is much more than a beverage, an art of life, a way to express my feelings in a creative and delicious way.
I found it was a wonderful idea to show to non brewers what tea can be about. Tea can be very personal and it's not always easy to share this passion with others. Best is to find, or to be found by, people who already start to grow some interest about tea. Then sharing and transmitting ones knowledge can be a real bliss. Luckily for us, we found many such persons at this event!
After my speech and tea brewing, harmonica and guitar player Richard Sleigh came on stage to prepare for the next event. I had seen him 2 nights ago at Elk Creek in Millheim, a tiny town in an Amish county in the middle of Pennsylvania. He's a local artist who knows the classic rock music and who has absolutely mastered the harmonica.
So, I shared some of my 2006 raw wild Lincang puerh with him. I brewed it very strong and it had lots of energy. He may be used to much stronger drinks in the evenings, but for the early afternoon, this tea should have helped him get in an electric mood.
I came up to him and he quickly agreed to try the hot tea. He paused for a moment. "It's good!", he said with a smile. I explained more about the tea and then he said: "I want to buy some." So we made a trade: I gave him the piece of this tea I had with me (and brewing instructions), and he played a Bob Dylan song for me, under the influence of this excellent puerh!
A good tea often feels like great music. I wish I could have met Oded Tzur during this trip. He's also a musician and tea friend. He sent me this Youtube music: The Song of the Silent Dragon while I was in Penn State. I'm very thankful to have put me in his thoughts and hope to see and listen to him one day.
My name is Stéphane Erler. I live in Taiwan since 1996 and have been studying tea with Teaparker. He's a worldwide tea expert and author of over 30 tea books. The study of tea isn't just theoretical, but it's also rooted in daily practice. It's a path of continuous improvement. As my brewing technique improves I get access to better teas and better accessories. These things go hand in hand. My blog documents my learning since 2004. And I have set up an online tea boutique with my selection of top quality teas, accessories and tea culture.