Being bamboo, being tea

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Through serendipity and its ripples, I was offered the opportunity to visit an unpretentious tea plantation around Shānlínxī 杉林溪, tended for the most part by Nature, and nested in a sea of whispering bamboo while being slowly nurtured by the elements. Although I was not necessarily actively hunting for new farmers to source tea from at that moment, I gratefully welcomed the offer, as I am naturally receptive to any occasion resulting in further nourishing my interest for wild tea, which remains one of the main focuses of my tea practice to this day.

Camellia formosensis is here given space to breathe its natural, strong character through the humble field, sensibly and respectfully harvested once a year. From it emerge a spectrum of tea processing techniques and teas that transparently convey their unique, rich personality cultivated by the microclimate of the terroir. An eclectic range of insects such as grasshoppers, red slug caterpillars (Eterusia aedea) and other more ubiquitous golden orb-weavers (of the Nephila genus) colors the unhurried and pure essence of the place.

After long and mindful tasting sessions back at the tea shop with the owner in Zhúshān 竹山, my restrained list of individuals and places I carefully source tea from was naturally amended. Concurrently, doing so initiates the cultivation of a precious supportive relationship, much needed in a still very restricted, unripe, often unprofitable due to a low demand, and misunderstood market where naturally grown tea stands, alas, as a fragile niche without significant external support or the appreciation and recognition it deserves.

While no tea endeavor is a long quiet river, a compassionate space can be crafted and tended, open enough to honor serendipity as a whole while remaining a student of its boundless, sacred ripples.

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