Know that chanoyu is a matter of just heating water, preparing tea, and drinking. --Rikyu The poem above is telling us “… however thorough one's understanding of tea writings, it is only so much information. It is knowing with the head, not actual experience.” This echoes the statement I...
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I am a tea drinker and food lover. As I’ve learned more about tea and tea production and history, my tea love has evolved into the same kind of careful, thoughtful, sustainable love that I have for all of the other foods and food systems in my life. What does that mean? It means I care about where my tea comes from and what is in it. I care about the short history of the leaves in my cup and the long history of their heritage. I care about the conditions in which the tea was grown and about the health and well-being of the people involved in the making of the tea. I care about whether the person who plucked the tea can send their kids to school and has food on their table. I want to know if the artisan that crafted the tea comes from a long line of tea-makers or has come into a new-found love for making tea. But I want to know that love is there. I care about the history and terroir1 of the land on which the tea grew. I care about the amount of time that has elapsed between when the leaves were plucked and when they are steeped in my cup and how many hands they passed through on their journey. I’m a locavore2 but realize that excellent tea terroir is limited to a few precious places on this earth, and I want to preserve those places so that great tea will always be made. I want to visit those places and the people that make that tea.
And at the end of the day, I want to bring that tea to you so that you can enjoy them with me. These teas were carefully selected and curated to bring teas to market that you can trust, savor, and appreciate. Know Your Tea. Provenance3 Matters.
1Terroir: Terroir (tair-wahr) is a French concept incorporating everything that contributes to the distinctive character of a particular vineyard site: its soil and subsoil; its drainage, slope and elevation; and its microclimate, which in turn includes temperature and precipitation, exposure to the sun, wind and fog, and the like. (from Stephen Tanzer’s Winophilia.com)
2Locavore: a person interested in eating food grown within a limited distance from its point of purchase or consumption in the interest of sustainability, eco-consciousness, and concern for small producers.
3Provenance: Adapted for a food like tea, I take provenance to mean the origin or source and the production details and history.