by tea alberti – 20 de junio 2011
1. How did you start your story with tea?
- My tea journey began informally in a home full of Hungarian food (my dad’s family), literature on far off places (which included tales of ‘tealands), and a tendency to try any and every food and drink we could find. I journeyed to Taiwan more than 10 years ago and was introduced to a ‘tea town’ high in the mountains by a friend, where I spent 7 hours straight drinking tea with an explanation of tea’s role in life and health…and how it was one of Asia’s great foods and commodities. I had my first tea ‘high’ here sipping an Oolong from Lishan – and I was hooked. It was something about the unpretentious commitment to making tea accessible while also introducing a ritualistic element to the whole taking of tea.Years later I would visit Yunnan and it was here (where I now have a home) that I was introduced to Pu’erh – the bitter green unfermented ‘sheng’s’ from ancient tea trees. These took my tongue on a journey I’d never had before and the culture and tea’s role in the local indigenous lives also took me on a physical trip. It was here that I felt something beyond appearances and beyond aesthetics truly grab my curiosity and passion. Here, the greatest teas are treated like friends and consumed out of simple kettles that burble on the floor – here tea has a social, a stimulant and a crucial role in every single day of these people’s lives. It was here in Xishuangbanna, southern Yunnan where I felt my own tea story reached a fever high.
2.What’s your favorite tea blend?
- Must admit that I’m not a huge blended tea fan – I much prefer single estate teas picked in Spring – I find that the combination of blended flavours reduces a true tea taste for my tongue. One tea that was somewhat blended was the result of a great tea buyer from Guangdong mixing three different green Pu’erhs; each one was from the same small village but from different mountain faces. One particular batch was bitter, one was incredibly fragrant and the third seemed flat….on their own they didn’t really hit the palate, but once they were combined, a beautiful alchemy of flavours hit the mouth. Blends can be fun but there is an old saying in Yunnan about blends that I think appropriate: “It is easy to hide a bad tea under beautiful names and beautiful colours”. Not always true but for me almost.
3 .What’s the best marriage you tried or imagined?
- I’ve often loved the Japanese rituals of ‘Chado’ where tiny savoury snacks and rice gluten cakes with red bean past are served after a sharp green blast of Macha (powdered green tea). One of the favourites for me though has to be a tea that is prepared by the Wa people of southern Yunnan. They heat a clay vessel (no water in it) with tea leaves, pepper corns and sometimes even chilly peppers inside. Gently, they shake the vessel and the heat starts to ‘cook’ the combination of flavours. When the tea leaves, chillies and peppercorns start to release their oils and flavours, then boiling water is added and the resulting tea is at first nuclear with heat and stimulants but after the combination of flavours really hits the mouth and body…one needs patience for it but the end result is surprising and powerful…and never to be forgotten.
4 . How do you usually takes your tea?
- I take my tea “if a tea is good I will take tea anytime, anywhere, with anyone, and in any occasion”. For me tea is the great eternal friend whose soothing and stimulant abilities never disappoint (unless it is a bad tea) and are always helpful for the head and heart. If one has time to take, one has time for tea. It is a great way to begin a new day and to take the edge off at the of a day.
5. What is your ritual of tea?
- I am informal about my rituals. For me it is about taking the time and making sure that every time I do make a tea I do it as well as I can. I travel with a supply of teas wherever I am. For me the morning tea, alone, wherever I happen to be makes the space and time seem familiar to me, and I love this ritual every morning. I’m also a fan of the mid-afternoon tea when the mind is slipping. I collect old Yixing teapots and usually have one wrapped in a sock in my bags somewhere and I often simply prepare a tea in the miniature one-cup pot and serve myself. Simplicity of preparation, a great tea and some time are all that is needed for tea….and of course time.
Recommended Reads The Time of Tea - Dominique Pasqualini & Bruno Suetgreat reading, bizarre references and some superb little details about tea, its history and preparation and its philosophy
Rikyu and the beginnings of the Japanese Tea Ceremony - Hebert Plutschowdetails of the ornate and historical origins of the Japanese tea rituals and a perspective on the crucial aspects of Japan and tea
The Ancient Tea Horse Road - Jeff Fuchs (of course I have to add this) a tea adventure and look at tea’s greatest (and most daunting) journey, across the top of the world from tea’s ancient origins in Yunnan into the Himalayas and beyond.
Pieces of advice
. Trust your tongue.
. Try to get to the source of tea – you’ll understand far more in 10 minutes of seeing, talking and trying than in a lifetime of reading
. Don’t get overly impressed with ceremonies at the beginning. First understand what tea is and then worry about pageantry.
. As social a force as tea is, never forget how to enjoy a cup alone – it is here that a little magic hits the soul.Jeff Fuchs bio
explorer / author Having lived for much of the past decade in Asia, Fuchs’ work has centered on indigenous mountain cultures, oral histories with an obsessive interest in tea. HIs photos and srories have appeared on three continents in World Geographic, Kyoto Journal, The Spanish Expedition Society, The Earth, Silkroad Foundation, The China Post Newspaper, New Ideas, Outdoor Exploration, Voyage, Outpost, The Toronto Star, The China Post and Traveler amongst others. Various pieces of his work are part of private collections in Europe, North America and Asia.As well as having consulted for National Geographic, Fuchs is a member of the fabled Explorers Club (www.explorersclub.ca), which supports sustainable exploration and research. Jeff has worked with schools and universities, giving talks on both the importance of oral traditions, tea and mountain cultures. He has spoken to the prestigious Spanish Geographic Society in Madrid on culture and trade through the Himalayas. Fuchs’ work has been the focus of a television documentary in China and he has appeared on numerous national radio and television shows. He has also provided insight into indigenous tea culture speaking at the 1 st Annual North American Tea Conference. His recently released book ‘The Ancient Tea Horse Road’ (Penguin-Viking Publishers) details his 8-month groundbreaking journey traveling and chronicling one of the world’s great trade routes, The Tea Horse Road . Fuchs is the first westerner to have completed the entire route stretching almost six thousand kilometers through the Himalayas and a dozen cultures. He makes his home in ‘Shangrila’, northwestern Yunnan upon the eastern extension of the Himalayan range where tea and mountains abound; and where he leads expeditions with Wild China (www.wildchina.com) along portions of the Ancient Tea Horse Road. Upcoming is a trek along another long lost ancient road: a Tibetan salt route in the eastern Himalayas never before explored by a westerner.contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
www.icedtea.com/tea-industry www.jefffuchs.com Thanks Jeff good karma!!!!!!