It tempers the spirits and harmonizes the mind, dispels lassitude and relieves fatigue, awakens thought and prevents drowsiness, lightens and refreshes the body, and clears the perceptive faculties.
Watching tea leaves slowly sinking to the bottom of my glass while I take small sips of this mythical natural beverage on a terrace, with a stunning view over Hangzhou’s tea hills, on a late summer afternoon is the most vivid memory of my first China trip. Almost four years later, I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to journey to Gewu Village, Tonglu to witness the third Tian Zun Gong Ya tea festival and to enrich my knowledge about China’s famous tea culture.
When I arrived I was warmly welcomed by traditional local dancers and musicians and was offered a hot glass of Tian Zun Gong Ya tea, it’s the tea served at the imperial court during the Song Dynasty. I honestly must say it’s the best tea I ever tasted in my life. The program started with a mesmerizing lecture about the history of tea, its traditions and importance for the traditional Chinese medicine. After gaining a new insight into tea culture I had the proud honor to personally learn how to brew tea from a true master of this discipline and to perform this art in front of the audience. Glasses were used in this ceremony to prepare the tea, so the elegant shape and pleasing color of the tea leaves can be admired.
Filled with inner harmony and peace from the unforgettable taste of this tea, carrying the spirit of an ancient culture from the past until to the modern day, I felt true happiness while we journeyed to Tianzun Rock, the famous and mythical peak of Tianzun Mountain and source of Tian Zun Gong Ya tea. Following the narrow and steep winding path, I enjoyed the wonderful view over valleys and mountain slopes with old villages and vast tea fields. On the top of the mountain I enjoyed a deep breath of the fresh mountain air and vast view from the mountain top down to its far reaching foothills. There I met Mr. Zhang and his wife who owned the land where this part of our journey ended. He and his ancestors as long as anybody can remember were cultivating tea on this land. They live all the year on the mountain peak next to their tea field so they can foster their plants at any time to make sure to harvest the best tea leaves possible. While I joined him in picking tea leaves he told me more about planting tea and his love for this special kind and his appreciation of its bitter and natural taste. He picks the young tea leaves once a year in a 20 to 30 days period and sells it to the local factory. Curious about the final step of crafting this wonderful tea we spontaneously decided to visit the local tea factory Mr. Zhang mentioned. I was truly impressed about the perfect synthesis of traditional craftsmanship and modern technology used at this place to transform Mr. Zhangs harvest into this absolute stunning tea.
During the factory visit I met a tea scholar who shared her great wisdom of tea culture with me. Her passion ignited in me a profound deep understanding about this part of Chinese culture and its importance and complemented my tea journey. That day made me into a true tea loving person who requires from this moment on every day a glass of tea like the air to breath.