As my tea journey has unfolded, I’ve encountered a variety of teas that are truly supportive to the meditation process. These teas are clean and chemical free. Some are old-growth, with deep roots that draw up precious minerals from the earth, creating the possibility for profound grounding and centering. Some are “wild,” raised in plantations where the tea trees grow free from human interference. This natural, wild upbringing allows the tea to manifest its full potential.
This collection has been chosen specifically for use in Leaves in a Bowl meditation. In addition to the tasting notes, you’ll find my personal description of the energetic qualities inherent in each tea. In a Guided Tea Practice, you will have the opportunity to experience them for yourself.
China | 100% oxidation | hand plucked
complex, floral undertone, scent of wild honey
This tea exceeds expectations. It demands your full attention, so give yourself a quiet, peaceful environment and plenty of time. This is an inside tea. Although I often take tea outdoors, it is too distracting for this one. Likewise, set a simple table - the tea itself is the ritual.
What to say about the experience? It is deeply relaxing. Shoulders drop, the jaw stretches itself. After several bowls you feel cleansed, healed from the compounds retrieved from deep in the earth by the long roots of old trees. It seems as if the tea is absorbed rather than digested. In these challenging times it is a remarkable antidote to contraction.
WILD & RAW YOUNG SHENG
China | oxidation, fermentation | wild trees
fresh foliage, birch, mineral, vegetable
A traditional, old tree raw puerh from the Lincang district of Yunnan Province in Southern China, commonly regarded as the birthplace of tea. Beautiful dry leaf ranging from dark leaves to white buds, you can practically see the harvest. Golden green liquor. This tea has aged for about one year, so it is still very green, yet with a distinctive flavor and aroma from the fermentation.
Energetically, this tea is incredible. Uplifting yet still grounding, brightening the eyes and heightening visual awareness. You feel as if you are drinking not just the leaf but the tree, the forest, the amazing biodiversity of Yunnan.
Taiwan | 70% oxidation | organic | small batch
vanilla, white grapes, hint of charcoal roasting
Harvested in 2017 from the traditional Tieguanyin cultivar, this certified organic tea has been lightly roasted over dragon's-eye charcoal with skill and consideration. Brewed in a bowl, it is easy to discover the layers of flavor that emerge in the course of a tea session. In ceremony, this tea is deeply relaxing.
Even with the first few bowls, your shoulders will drop effortlessly. As you continue, your heart center may open and breathing may become more expansive. Although it sounds counterintuitive, I have found personally that a lighter brew (less tea) actually has a stronger effect. Sometimes just the thought of drinking this tea is comforting.
WILD SNOW MOUNTAIN
China | 100% oxidation | old, wild trees
Wild Da Xue Shan (Snow Mountain) is a 2020 Spring tea from Lincang, Yunnan Province. The environment for this tea is clean, with no agrochemical use at all. The teas itself is clean and bright because it comes from well cared for trees.
Da Xue Shan means "Big Snow Mountain" a very well known and revered tea mountain in the Mengku area, very high elevation with a good population of old, wild trees.
The first bowl is astonishing. Give the tea a moment to brew and cool. From the first sip, the fruity sweet is captivating, mysterious, almost a little distracting. You feel as if you are drinking the terroir of a place you've never been. The eyes begin to brighten. How does the tea do this? With the second bowl the taste is less present and the energy goes right to the eyes. Third bowl, the brew is lighter, the texture is fuller and more soft, and a hint of the fruity sweetness returns.
2019 AUTUMN WULIANG MOUNTAIN OLD TREE RAW PUERH MAOCHA
China | oxidation, fermentation
This 2019 Old Tree Raw Maocha from Wuliang Mountain is elegant, smooth, and richly textured. The area where this tea is grown is a protected ancient forest at about a 2000 meter elevation. The tea was entirely hand-processed and dried in the sun.
With the first bowl, your attention moves from your mind to your body. Although some people find young sheng puerh activating with an upward energy, this one took me from my thoughts to a more quiet place. Maybe it's the L-theanine working its magic. By the second bowl, the leaves come into focus as they unfurl, and you can notice the edges, the veins and the central stem. Inside and out, a moment of peace.
JEONG JAE YEON'S GRANDMOTHER TEA
Korea | semi-oxidized balhyocha
This tea is semi-wild, a term used only in Korea. It means that seeds were taken from wild growing, entirely sexually reproduced parents. Those seeds were planted in loose rows or groves for easier harvesting but they are left to their own devices. They are cared for, but with as little interference as possible, including the absence of insecticide and fertilizer.
Balhyocha is the Korean designation for this mid-oxidized tea, similar to oolong but with a depth and beauty all its own.
This is also a Grandmother tea, grown and made by a someone for their family and friends. It feels soft and personal, and as you drink it, you begin to feel held.
LISHAN (PEAR MOUNTAIN)
Taiwan | 20% oxidized | organic
vegetal, buttery, sweet, hint of floral
This is a classic Pear Mountain oolong: grown at a very high elevation, hand-picked in early spring, processed in small batches. If you're new to loose leaf tea, it is accessible, soft and smooth. If you're new to tea meditation, it is easy to stay with this tea through several bowls, watching the leaves unfurl.
I call this Lishan the “happiness tea”. It brings you to the joy of the present moment and you fall in love with the mountain, the leaf, the farmer. It's an upper body tea…your eyes brighten and you begin to smile.