Friends in Tea

Last week donors pledged $15,000 to bring Tea Journey to life.

As you read this note our total paid subscriptions will top 325 and our Kickstarter campaign will have reached nearly 30% of the final goal. There are now 30 days left in the campaign. Many Kickstarter ventures are fully funded in a 30-day window but we need to act quickly to draw attention to our “replenish rewards.”

We need to make the most of each day…

Founding sponsors have committed an additional 1,000 packets of tea and several new tea experience rewards totaling $20,000. This boosts the value of Tea Journey rewards to $95,000 USD (our current goal).

The word is getting out. We have 185 Kickstarter subscribers (and another 130 who subscribed direct from the website). They hail from Iceland and Indonesia to Eastern Europe, India, UK and New Zealand. Those who see the prototype tell us they love it.

The combination of support from bloggers, media and social media has brought us this far but reaching goal depends on peer-to-peer appeals to your friends in tea. Eighty-two percent of our Kickstarter donors are friends in tea. They are responding to short personal notes at a rate of 1% – that’s 5 per 500 notes sent.

A simple note is all it takes: 70% of millennials prefer a “peer” endorsement and rely on non-celebrity bloggers over the glitz and glam of stars. Only 3% of the 14,000 consumers surveyed by Collective Bias say they even consider buying a product endorsed by a celebrity.

The articles, images and video in Tea Journey are authentic, unvarnished, detailed and devoted to tea. Your note should be the same.

Do these five things and we will be celebrating our success on June 1.

1) Open a PayPay account and add $30 (for up to 500 names). GreenInbox only accepts PayPal payments.
2) Signup for (and select and upload either your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, Linkedin connections or email contact list). Click the check box beside the names of everyone you think will be interested in Tea Journey (up to 500).
3) Personalize the note below.
4) Click send.

If you are short of cash I will be happy to reimburse you…. better yet, send a note to with your Paypal email and I will send you $30 in advance.

I emailed 317 appeals this week and there were 60%+ opens resulting in several donors.

I know a lot of people but not nearly enough to reach the Kickstarter goal.

If you help us by doing this, I am convinced that together the tea community will reach the $96,000 goal but it needs to be done now…. send as many as you can as quickly as practical. It takes donors several days to evaluate the magazine. In many instances it takes appeals from three or four of you to tip the scale.

Tomorrow is too late.



Dear (or Hello, or Hi) <first_name>

Tea Journey magazine presents authentic and elusive tea knowledge translated from publications in China and other tea lands. The mobile app and website is a collaboration between western tea journalists and tea experts to introduce readers to the world’s finest gardens and teas. Choose from these awesome tea rewards:
I did!
Your Name

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Tea Journey

Tea Journey

Thirty Days

During the past decade I have met thousands of tea drinkers on a path of discovery, a journey to find the special teas that tantalize their sense of taste and reward them with tales of exotic terroir and artisanship so compelling they are eager to share.

I believe that there is a perfect tea for each of us and that finding that tea is the key to fully realizing the health and wellness tea brings.

But finding that tea and preparing it correctly requires knowledge not easily obtained.KICKSTARTER_Higishyama_360px

Ron Studd put it this way: “I have a strong feeling that there are many interested in getting to the next level with tea, but they don’t have a good way to get there specifically with knowledge.  I know that was a problem I had when I returned to the States.  You get people that say they’re enthusiasts, but when their depth of tea knowledge and practice is so shallow, it’s tough to find inspiration and encouragement that can only come from a wider community of other enthusiasts at or beyond your own knowledge.”

In the past year I assembled an awesome team of journalists and tea experts in the tea lands and their counterparts in the west dedicated to obtaining and sharing authentic, elusive and exclusive knowledge. We call our venture Tea Journey. It was christened by Tony Gebely and ratified by a group so passionate about tea I am humbled to stand as their leader.* Together we created something very special, a digital magazine available online, via iOS and Android and downloadable as a PDF.


This mobile magazine features articles written in the tea lands by native-speaking writers. The articles are beautifully illustrated and there are informative videos that bring history to life and describe the amazing work that goes into creating tea:



Click to view the prototype we created. I know you will find the content compelling. Then join us.

Three hundred enthusiasts already have invested $25,000 in making this Kickstarter project a reality.

MARKETING-TJ_SigArt_China_360pxRon Studd continues: “When reading the magazine articles, I kept thinking ‘this is exactly what I need!’ Even for topics that I may be familiar with, there’s so much effort that went into making the content intuitive and interesting that any level of enthusiast will enjoy.  It’s also just nice to know ‘I’m not the only one interested in this!’ ”

There are 30 days left in the campaign. Our goal is 1,000 paid subscribers. Those who donate receive their choice of amazing gifts of tea; tea experiences of a lifetime or splendid teaware.

Choose from hundreds of rewards valued at $95,000.

That’s what it will cost to launch Tea Journey. The deadline is June 1.

Are you in?

Dan's Informal Signature_240px (Blue)

If you already donated or subscribed, please share the news with your friends in tea by clicking the link below:







*The Tea Journey Team

Dan Bolton, Editor/Publisher
Nan Cui, Associate Publisher
Si Chen, Senior Editor
Hans Niebergall, Business Development
Ashley Sostaric-Finkes, Marketing Director
Suzette Hammond, Education Director
Beibei Lu, Art Director
Jennifer Sauer, Video Editor
Kathe Meseman, Finance Director
Contributing Editors

Ian Chun, Origins
Jennifer English,
Jennifer Quail,
Teaware & Antiquities
Cynthia Gold,
Culinary Tea
Bruce Richardson,
Tea Retail
Dan Robertson,
Jennifer Sauer, 
Jennifer English,
Tea Journey Podcast
Cynthia Gold,
Tea Cuisine


Stephen Carroll
Barbara Fairchild
Jeff Fuchs
Keith Horner
JT Hunter
Nicholas Lozito
Nicole Martin
Frank Miller
Katrina Munichiello
Hans Niebergall
Geoffrey Norman
Stephenie Overman
James Norwood Pratt
Dan Robertson
Felicia Stewart
Peter Surowski
Jason Walker
Nathan Wakeford

Victoria Bisogno, El Club Del Te
Kevin Gascoyne,
Camellia Sinensis
Tony Gebely, World of Tea
Austin Hodge
, Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea
Joshua Kaiser, Co-founder Rishi Organic Tea
Brian Keating, Sage Group
Bob Krul
, Boreal Wildcraft
Andrew McNeill, Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea
Dr. Nada Milosavljevic
, Harvard Medical
Elyse Petersen, Tealet
Jane Pettigrew, UK Tea Academy
James Norwood Pratt, Tea Lovers Treasury
Dan Robertson, The Tea House

Founding Sponsors:
Camellia Sinensis | Seven Cups | Mighty Leaf | Mad Monk Tea | Tealet | CrafTea | Tea Squared | Jalam Teas | Misty Peak Tea | Tea Total | Yunomi Tea |Tetulia | Lochan Tea | Teatrade Mart | Rishi Organic Tea | Adagio Teas | World Tea Academy | Hong China Tea | Smacha | Young Mountain Tea | Nothing But Tea | Australian Tea Masters | ITI | Paper & Tea GmbH | International Tea Masters | Wild Tea Qi | The Green Teaist | El Club Del Te |  Rolling Leaf | World Tea Podcast | Tea Lula | Daily  Tea | Conundrum Tea | Tea Vivre (watch for updates as additional founding sponsors sign up every day.)

Companies interested in becoming founding sponsors should contact Suzette Hammond at to inquire.

The Great Tea Train

The Great Tea Train

Tea tourists may soon have another amazing excursion to quell their wanderlust.

Through a new agreement between Russian President Vladimir Putin, President of China Xi Jinping and President of Mongloia Tsakhiagiyn Elbegdorzh, the “Great Tea Train” should be ready to operate by next year.



The train will travel 3,000 kilometers through portions of what was historically a critical tea trade route, the Great Tea Road. The Eurasian Star train will set off from Beijing and travel across Mongolia into Siberia, ending in Irkutsk. There will be multiple stops at cities along the route for sightseeing including Chita, Ulan and Ude.

Some who have interest in this historical area have opted to ride on the Trans-Siberian train which runs from Beijing through Mongolia all the way to St. Petersburg, a journey of 8,000 miles. The Eurasian Star, however, will have a particular focus, however, on sites important to the tea trade.

The deal was announced at the most recent BRICS Summit in Ufa, Russia, a gathering of representatives from Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa. The leaders of Russia, China and Mongolia have spent the past year discussing ways that their countries can more closely cooperate in politics, the economy, science and cross-border initiatives.

Source: Siberian Times and BRICS report

Zhena: Tea Entrepreneur, Author and Soon-to-Be TV Star?

Inspiration comes to us in many ways. Some of us read a line that sets our minds on fire. Others meet someone special who serves as a mentor or offers encouragement or important tools. And sometimes, as was the case of Zhena Muzyka, there was no small amount of desperation in the decision to launch a business.

Zhena Muzyka was twenty-four years old when she found herself in a frightening situation. She was already struggling to get by, behind in her bills and begging to keep her gas line open even though she was months behind in her payments. She was nine months pregnant with no job prospects ahead and her baby’s father was not in the picture. Her parents weren’t able to help and then, her baby son was born with severe medical problems. The situation was beyond bleak.

She took a risk, creating a business plan to open a tea shop near her Ojai, California home. She pitched it to someone looking to sell his cafe business and he was swept away by her passion and business savvy. He hired her as a consultant to transform his cafe. This led to opening her own tea cart and, eventually, creating Zhena’s Gypsy Teas.

Zhena coverMuzyka is now releasing her first book about her life and her business, “Life by the Cup: Ingredients for a Purpose-Filled Life of Bottomless Happiness and Limitless Success.” The book’s chapters are designed to be short enough to consume with a cup of tea. She tells stories of her life as a mom and a business owner. She intersperses these with meditations and exercises to encourage readers to think about their own lives and aspirations. This book is part of a three-part deal with Simon & Schuster. In addition, she has signed a development deal with Mark Wahlberg and Leverage Management to transform the book into a movie or television series. The book was released June 17.

Tea Biz had the chance to talk with Zhena about her new book. Here are some excerpts from our interview.

Tea Biz: Tell us about the structure of your book — with the short chapters and the exercises. What inspired the format?

Zhena: I didn’t want to just write a memoir. I wanted it to be instructive. I spend time helping other women in business and I’m focused on making sure my lessons help people. It shouldn’t just be me reiterating old stories. I was talking to my girlfriends and they said you should be able to drink a cup of tea while you read each chapter. I looked at my chapters and the word count was much higher. I really had to cut them down. It’s compassionate for a busy schedule.

Tea Biz: What was your inspiration for your tea work?

Zhena: I loved throwing events so when I had to make money out of nothing I came to the conclusion that tea was in two categories – English high tea and the Asian side of things. No one was doing it gypsy style.

Tea Biz: What is gypsy style?

Zhena: It has more of a bohemian flair. It is more mystic. In the Asian style, mindfulness, grace, relaxation, focus and clarity come first. It’s like a martial art. Gypsy style is more of a celebration, more colorful, more bohemian circus-like.

Tea Biz: In those early days you were facing a terrifying time with your son when some would have just wanted to give up. Where did you find the strength to try to start something new at that point?

Zhena: I’m not different from any other mother that is faced with something frightening. My options were very limited. My parents were not in a healthy position physically or financially. Sage’s dad was not in the picture. I didn’t have a Plan B and I didn’t have a rich aunt. I really always thought that would happen. Maybe I watched too much Disney as a kid growing up. I thought that something would happen and I’d be saved.

Then I realized that there is no saving. We have to do the work ourselves. The more I got into the work, the more I had the chance to actually fulfill my own potential. That was so much fun for me. I hadn’t found anything other than writing that really made me feel that way. Blending teas, making teas, selling teas, becoming a fair trade and organic activist were what I needed to do. I believe we’re put on earth to fulfill our potential. I found strength through seeing it work because I had no other options.

What kept me going was realizing that no one could save me. This was more fun in the long run.

Tea Biz: You went and pitched a business plan to take over a cafe with no money in your pocket. Was that one of the scarier things you’ve done in your career?

Zhena: I didn’t have the money, but I was starving for an opportunity. I almost turned around but there was a voice in my head that told me to just show up. I still get that to this day, that loud voice. It happened a few months ago. I was tired and didn’t want to go to a conference. I wanted to hang out with my kids. I just kept hearing this voice telling me to show up and it was life changing. I met my designer who designed ZHENA TV and a friend who is a Hay House author. The scarier something is and the more resistance I feel, that is when good things happen.

I had nothing to lose. Writing the business plan made my confidence grow. If you don’t know how to do something, it’s in the learning how to do it that you gain confidence and mastery. When I showed up with no money and was hired as a consultant it was the scariest but I was then empowered to take control of my life.

Tea Biz: You left the consultant job eventually to start a tea cart. That was a bold move.

Zhena: The tea cart was me jumping in with both feet. Definitely ready, shoot, aim. I decided that I had to do my own thing and I didn’t want to do it for someone else anymore.

Tea Biz: You had the chance to visit Sri Lanka, to see where tea is grown. What was most striking about that experience?

Zhena: I met the queen of the gypsies and a mentor at the time told me I should study meditation. He told me I was a blender without a top. Visiting Sri Lanka I saw true suffering which really put what I thought was suffering in perspective. When things were at the hardest for me, Sage and I at least had a social safety net that caught us. We could get the operation and save his life. They don’t have that. Even in poverty I was actually one of the most fortunate people in the world. It was eye opening and I was energized to do something.

Tea Biz: This is the first of three books. Tell me about your next books.

Zhena: The next book, Business by the Cup, is a spiritual business book for women, focusing on exceptions, not rules. They are the lessons I learned like working for the sake of work, not for outcome. It is a handbook for a woman who wants to grow a business and make a mark in the world. The third book, Love by the Cup, is about my Ukranian grandparents. When Sage was born I had a draft of a book called “A Modern Gypsy’s Guide to Life.” My grandfather was a freedom fighter, wanting his freedom and an independent country. I spent forty hours interviewing my grandfather about stories of World War II and surviving five years in a concentration camp. My grandmother kept it a secret that she was a gypsy. Gypsies are still treated like third class citizens and no one is telling the actual stories and beauty of gypsy culture.

Tea Biz: And you also secured a development deal for TV?

Zhena: The guys who created Boardwalk Empire, Entourage, In Treatment, etc., Mark Wahlberg and Leverage Management optioned it for a movie or television series. That was completely unexpected. I didn’t even know what movie rights were. I’m learning this industry as fast as I can!


Helicopter Rescue

Perched in a tree jutting from a cliff hundreds of feet above fast-moving Mountain Home Creek I would have welcomed a calming cup of tea.

SAN GORGONIO WILDERNESS, Calif. – A few miles from Angeles Oaks Calif., there is a trailhead on Hwy. 38 leading to Mountain Home Flats, an early settler’s homestead located in the San Gorgonio Wilderness of San Bernardino County.

Chopper Rescue

Click to see video of rescue.

San Bernardino Mountain rises 10,649 ft., high above the flats which are about 7,800 ft. up the north side of the mountain. Below is the East Fork of Mountain Home Creek. There is a waterfall a short distance from the fire circle and spectacular vistas. On a clear day from the peak looking East you can see the snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountains and from the West face the azure Pacific.

Calling this area “flat” is a misstatement. The difficult vertical climb rises more than 4,600 ft. in a distance of 16.5 miles from the village of Angeles Oaks. The 60-mile range, formed 11 million years ago by the San Andreas Fault, boasts the highest mountain in Southern California (San Gorgonio Mountain at 11,499 ft.).

My companions Sarah Baisley and Chris Harz and their two big white German shepherds, joined me on the hike, returning to a trail we had last walked a dozen years ago.

Adventures have happy endings  – mishaps, not so much. In this tale my survival was 5 parts luck and 10 parts scouting and firefighting experience. I’m happy I could write the ending.

We set out early May 26, arriving at the trailhead before noon. The hike to our base camp was much more difficult than in past years due to fallen timber. Giant Coulter, Jeffery and Ponderosa Pines dominate this region. These gray-green trees grow to 80 feet tall. Some blocking the trail were four foot in diameter. The pine cone of the Coulter weighs as much as 12 pounds and measure 18 inches. Foresters call them “widowmakers.”


Manzanita lined canyons are spectacular but steep.

The temperature was in the 80s. I had last hiked the trail in 2002 and not many had walked it since. At one point I led the group up a steep incline only to retreat. My friend Patrick Graham and his son were ahead of us, returning from their early-morning trail blazing efforts. They saw us and put us on the right path.

Graham said the trail ahead was “bad, very bad.”

As early evening approached we set up a base camp on a ridge opposite Mountain Home Flats high above the creek. Everyone was thirsty, including the dogs, so I set out with Sarah for water. Ahead was a narrow ledge and a stretch of along the face of the cliff that my daughter Tessa calls the “goat trail above the abyss.”

The trail from the ridge was in bad repair. I decided to rig safety line. It took an hour to secure the line, inching along the rock face as scree tumbled below. It was another hour to descend to Mountain Home Creek. California was undergoing its worst drought in a century but there was good flow in the creek. I used the Katadyn filter to insure the water was safe. Eight canteens and water bottles later, when I started back from the creek it was nearly dark. At the foot of the ridge stumbled. While I knew the trail quite well, the climb had been much more tiring than I remember. My headlamp cast uncertain light and I began to slip and fall every 10 yards, cutting and scraping my calves until they bled.

It was then I realized I would have to spend an uncomfortable night under a tree. Carrying a pack of water in the dark along the face of a cliff seemed too risky. I bed down on pine boughs near a big log.

Deciding to spend a 60-degree night under the stars saved my life.

I did not know it at the time, but Sarah had already fallen down the scree while returning to base camp. See too was forced to spend the night hugging a Manzanita bush, exposed to the night air.

Lifted to safety

AR 306, a Bell UH-1H, lifts Dan upside down from the cliff.

At dawn as soon as I could see the trail I set out. I was returning with gallons of water in my pack, facing the cliff, inching my way along when suddenly the narrow ledge gave way. I had looped the safety line around my right hand as I progressed and now found myself suspended about 20 feet below the ledge by that hand… boy did that hurt…. my fingers quickly turned purple under my 350 pound weight but I was able to hang there long enough to kick into the crumbling rock with my left boot. In time I had a rock climbers three-point hand and foot hold.

I let go of the line. My right hand was swollen, numb and useless. I steadied myself with my left and crab walked across the face of the cliff. I was 60 feet below the ledge. I could not see how far it was to the sloping scree and safety far to my left. I knew it would be a long stretch of sheer, near vertical rock to cross. I started out, kicking toe holds with my steel-toe boots as I made my way.

Progress was slow. I had moved about 20 feet across the face of the rock when I noticed a dark shadow to my left. It was from a tree anchored below me. I was tiring. I looked down. The 400 fall would send me into the sharp sloping rocks. Without a climbing helmet I would then likely tumble unconscious into the fast-moving creek below.

You can imagine how happy I was to see that shadow led to a a wiry little tree. It was a broad leaf with smooth bark and a trunk diameter between six and eight inches. I maneuvered above it, slid face first slowly down the rock and straddled it between my legs with my back to the cliff. I rested a while, wrapped my hand and took stock of the situation. Secure from a fall I started with an inventory. My glasses and hearing aids were still in place. In my fanny pack I had a radio and water, a flashlight and a Leatherman tool, a bandanna, compass and hat. My walking stick had fallen within arm’s reach.

Chris Harz awoke that morning counting on me to help pull Sarah out of her predicament.

Earlier I had waved and greeted him at a distance before setting off along the ledge and he acknowledged with a shout. Now I was doing the shouting, explaining that I had fallen and needed a chopper.

Chris had tried the cell phones but without service he knew he would have to walk down the mountain to ring 911. He had one AT&T and one phone on the Verizon network. He got a Verizon signal around 9:30 a.m. I had fallen around 6:30 a.m. Sarah had slipped in the scree about 8 p.m. the previous night and could not regain her footing, landing in a Manzanita but safe.

“Even if one of you had gotten to me with a rope, I was too weak from straining to stay awake and lodged in that spot all night without water. I no longer had the muscle energy,” she said later.

Sarah Baisley and Dan Bolton return to base camp.

Sarah Baisley and Dan Bolton return to base camp.

The rescue chopper, based in Apple Valley, Calif., responded immediately to the call. A sheriff’s deputy met Chris at the trailhead and he rode with them to the fire station where he pointed to our location on the map. In these circumstances San Bernardino County Sheriff’s dispatch two choppers, the first to identify the victim’s location and a second, heavier ship, to perform the air rescue. Deputy Doug Brimmer piloted the craft. He and Flight Officer Deputy Ryan Peppler were first to arrive in 40King6, a 2006 Eurocopter that scanned the canyon for almost an hour flying occasionally overhead.

They could not locate us easily in the brush, making many passes along the canyon in full view but too distant to signal. The pilot then asked via bull horn for us to wave something white. Sarah cleverly and enthusiastically waved her bra. I tied my bandanna to the walking stick and waved.

Once we were spotted, Deputy Brimmer radioed for Air Rescue 306, a Bell UH-1H chopper piloted by Deputy Dave Borgerd with Crew Chief Deputy John Scalise. On board were Fire Captain S. Simpson and Firefighter/Paramedic Eric Sherwin.

Sherwin was lowered and quickly extracted Sarah.

After they had carried Sarah to safety Sherwin walked to the spot above the tree when I sat and lowered a harness using the ropes I had rigged. I then scaled the distance I had fallen unassisted, finding a footing on the ridge.

Once I reached the ledge Sherwin brought the chopper in close and buckled the lifting hook into my waist harness. I was safely attached to the chopper and he was attempting to fasten a chest harness when the chopper suddenly rose a few feet, pulling me out of his reach and leaving me to ascend head down. I remember focusing on my boots as they hoisted me feet first. At first the rotors seemed a long way from those boots. The winch is mounted in the roof of the chopper and I recall thinking that suddenly those rotors were very, very close to my boots. They bent me in half and pulled me in feet first. The trip to Angeles Oaks took only a few minutes.

A KABC TV 7 reporter interviewed me on landing, the medics gave me a once over. I presented the containers of water to Sarah and got a big hug. The newspaper where I worked in the 1990s, the Riverside Press-Enterprise, ran a brief written by a reporter and friend of mine who coincidentally attended my 60th birthday party the previous Saturday. He didn’t know it was me.

It was about 5.5 hours after I fell before I landed.

Dan Describing Fall_640px

Dan describes the fall.

We rested at the Oaks Restaurant across from the fire station. The accompanying photo is me explaining the fall. As we walked into the restaurant the waitress said, “aren’t you the guy on TV we just watched them haul into the helicopter?”

“Yup. Burger and MGD please,” I replied.

That would have been the end of it except that all of our gear and my wallet, ID and passport were still on the mountain. One backpack had meat for dinner in bear country so we decided to climb right back up the mountain, spent an exhausted night and then climbed back down the next morning.

The second group of photos show Chris, Sarah and I celebrating the return to base camp with a box of wine.

Chris Harz - Dan Bolton_640px

Base camp with Chris Harz.

The campsite was a favorite of my now-grown children. I had ascended the mountain to bury a time capsule with items for my grandchildren (my first grandchild, Lux Alexander, was born to my son Patrick on Saturday, May 24, a couple of days before the hike).

The stainless thermos time capsule contains a computer SD chip with 592 ancestors in the family tree; a few trinkets prized by my two sons and daughter along with coins from 19 countries. A note encourages “the grandchildren whom I know and those I have yet to meet” to pick a coin and travel there as “adventure has so enriched my life.”

All is well… I live to write another tale. The TV reporter asked my advice for others: “Be Prepared” I said, recalling the Scout motto that served me well. The water filter and radio, the bandanna, the compass and knife all contributed to my return. Taking the time to rig that safety line made all the difference.

Hanging up there for several hours with a spectacular view I realized that if it turned out badly it would be a sad, but fitting end.

Propped against the cliff, hand throbbing, bloody legs straddling that tough little tree I sipped the cool mountain water that I had gathered, second-guessed some of my decisions and wondered when they would find me; why they didn’t answer my radio distress calls; how long the tree would continue to hold. I sat there examining one by one, the many facets of fear… calmly and without regret.

LOGO-SanBernardinoAirRescueDan is an Eagle Scout and former firefighter credited with saving the lives of others. He is very grateful to the San Bernardino sheriff’s deputies piloting the aircraft and the firefighters on board who saved his life.