Highlights of the Fest this year include:
- A brief interview with Wild Tea Qi President and Founder Jay T. Hunter (below).
- Fang Gourmet Tea continued to delight with the tea tastings- the only place to sit, and sample teas with a host and friends. Done with the traditional gaiwan service.
- Tea: A Magazine is getting re-launched. That means fresher content on a wider tea perspective. This will be more than cucumber sandwiches and Earl Grey. Subscribe to get in on this groundbreaking publication.
1. One thing that distinguishes Wild TeaQi is its emphasis on ancient, wild tree teas. What do you mean by ancient, wild tree teas, and why are these teas so special?
JH: A wild tea tree is one that was not planted intentionally by man. Ancient tea trees are trees that are 200 to over 1000 years old. Most ancient tree teas I have found are Puers from Yunnan. Wild and ancient tree teas are gathered by hand (2,000 pickings to make a pound), the quality of each leaf carefully checked. Of course, the quality of the soil and natural elements greatly affects the quality of the leaf.
Once you feel the Qi from a wild and or ancient tree tea you will never see tea drinking the same again.
2. I have heard other tea drinkers talk of the “qi” of a tea. What is tea “qi,” and how do tea drinkers detect it and learn to appreciate it?
JH: In the US I studied Qigong, meditation, inner martial arts, Qigong tui na and medical Qigong with a renowned Chinese medicine doctor. I learned that when a tea tree can grow strong roots into the ground it produces strong Qi. My teacher showed me how tea was to be taken as a daily natural medicine for longevity as well as to heal many ailments.
I find very different Qi feelings depending on where the tea is from. The fact that I have spent more than half of my life involved in Qigong and other energetic type arts means I am more sensitive and able to understand Qi energetics more quickly and easily, but that doesn’t mean the average person can’t distinguish these energies. What it takes is a calm, clear mind and paying attention to your feelings while sipping your tea slowly. When I drink a cup of tea, I pay attention to all the different aromas coming from the cup before I take a sip as this Qi goes straight to the brain from your nose. Next I feel the texture over my tongue as this is another Qi aspect. Then when I swallow, I follow it down my throat and pay attention to this Qi aspect. Is it slippery? Does it leave a dry feeling? Does the taste change after? There are endless nuances to pay attention to. Next after following the feeling into my stomach I pay attention to feelings within my body. For example, after sipping Wild Bamboo Oolong and Wild Lapsong Souchong you can feel the Qi rising upwards throughout your body and into your lungs and head. It is a soft, warm, invigorating feeling.
3. You also offer pu’er in walnut boxes. Few pu’er retailers provide cases for aging pu’er. How did you come to offer these walnut cases, and what else does a collector need to properly age their own pu’er?
JH: The walnut wood cases are the perfect thing to age the puer because they have no smell which is important because when you store puer for long periods of time it is easy for fragrances (like those from fragrant woods) to influence the taste and smell. Also the walnut wood breathes very nicely. With puer you want the tea to be able to breathe as it ages. In addition these walnut wood cases are made from sustainably harvested wood, so there is no damage to the environment.
4. Wild Tea Qi also organizes tea retreats in China. In your experience, what helps guests on these retreats make the most of their trip?
JH: We like to go where most people don’t go, deep into China, deep into the ancient tea culture that is not widely known, even in China. What helps on this kind of tour is an open mind eager to learn new things. Of course, an interest in the energetics of life and how we can work to bring harmony, health and happiness into our life is important. Working with Qi is like surfing a big wave- if you can really become sensitive to it and master it, it becomes effortless and nature will carry you. Finally the last ingredient needed is, a respect and admiration for these beautiful ancient peoples who are keeping an ancient tradition of connectedness to nature and spirit alive.
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