Monday, July 04, 2011

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of (Tea) Happiness

On this 4th of July, I celebrate 15 years since I've moved to Taiwan! On this occasion, I want to write about the tea party I recently had with my American friend Jason (president of the Tea Institute at Penn State).

After a month of tea study in Taipei -and just before his departure-, I wanted him to experience not just the pursuit, but the achievement of tea happiness. This is, I feel, the best reward for the commitment and effort he has shown this month. Such an experience is also a good motivator to learn and practice more and more.

So, I took Jason to one of my favorite spot near Nan Shan temple in the Wenshan mountains. We started with the obligatory Wenshan Baozhong. Below, a picture of the spring 2011 'Subtropical forest' Baozhong we brewed.

Our water comes from a nearby spring. Fresh.
I unpack my accessories from an ancient, 2 levels, bamboo basket. Lovely.
The bamboo mat and kimono belt create a thin and long Cha Xi. Elegant.
A porcelain gaiwan lets us taste several teas. Neutral.
Pewter and porcelain tea jars protect the dry Oolong tea leaves. Fragile.

Great tea moments rarely happen by accident. They require Preparation, Practice and Patience. It's the right fit between high quality leaves, the proper accessories, sweet water, learned brewing skills and a quiet mind. There are many variables and no guarantee of success. Failures are part of the experience and road we have to travel. Let's learn from them, too. And let's be cheerful and thankful when we achieve such tea happiness, as here, in the Wenshan mountains!

Happy 4th of July!


Assistant said...

Great post, thanks for sharing. Looks like it was a special tea moment. Just wondering why that specific spot/area is one of your favorites?


TeaMasters said...

This spot is surrounded by tea fields. It's near the top of the mountain. And the huge stone seem to have been placed here by giants, adding a special Stonehenge feeling. And thanks to the nearby spring water, I always manage to brew great tea there!

steve said...


What a wonderful way to celebrate your anniversary. Perfect.

I wonder if you might provide us with an introduction to your tea case: contents, arrangement, and ideas.

Your visit to Wenshan carrying your tea case reminded me of Baisao, the Kyoto sencha master who named his tea case Senka, taking the trusty case every day to Kitano Tenman-gū (北野天満宮 to sit beneath the plum trees making tea.

Also of interest would be a picture of the spring on Wenshan from which you fetch water for tea. Perhaps a snapshot when next you visit the tea gardens or celebrate your sixteenth year.


TeaMasters said...


The content of the tea case is on display on this rock. A tetsubin, a Nilu, a kimono belt, a black glazed Jianyang bowl, a bamboo mat, thin qinghua porcelain tea cups, a gaiwan and fitting pewter Cha Tuo. It also contains 2 tea caddies, one in pewter and one in porcelain to store my Oolongs. The idea is to have a complete Cha Xi for Oolongs with accessories that match well.

The place I get my water is not very fancy, but very practical. Thanks for your interest. I will try to take a picture to show you what it looks like.

Jason M. Cohen said...

Dear Stéphane,

I'm just seeing this post for the first time now.

I wanted to thank you for all the beautiful experiences we had together in Taiwan,
and for all of your help in my travels.

My month in Taiwan was filled with learning and wonderful tea.

See you again soon!

All the Best,