The Reverence for Tea

Some of my tea brothers and I hosted Brian Kirbis of Theasophie for a private session of rare 1990 and earlier puers as he was traveling the West Coast.

Brian is currently based in Yunnan and has studied the culture of the Bulang indigenous peoples in Yunnan and has been studying the tea culture based in Yunnan for many years. He is gentle and wise. His tea stage was simple and elegant, his form uncomplicated. 

1990 xiaguan "Iron Cake" on the tea stage - photo by Leon Wong

1990 xiaguan "Iron Cake" on the tea stage - photo by Leon Wong

Our conversation quickly moved from getting-to-know-you to deeper matters as the teas demanded our attention and focus. 

  • How can we foster and cultivate an American tea culture?
  • How can we introduce Americans to truly exceptional and fine teas that have the evocation yun (韵 - evoking the flavor experience), xiang (香 aroma/fragrance), and qi (气 -feeling/energy/wellbeing)? 
Early 2000 CNNP 7532 wet leaves - photo by Leon Wong

Early 2000 CNNP 7532 wet leaves - photo by Leon Wong

Puer tea is a living thing. Because of the processing methods used to create puer, the resulting microbiome contributes to the distinct tastes and what many call qi (气). Some of these older teas, due to the combination of storage and skilled craftsmanship, exhibited strong cha qi (茶气). The experience is hard to describe; it is better to be directly experienced if you have the opportunity.