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!
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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.

When an American Tries to Teach the British about Tea

When an American Tries to Teach the British about Tea

I think it’s safe to say that the British have some substantial experience with tea. This long history has resulted in significant consternation now that a guide on “proper tea preparation” has been released and it was written by an American.

20150807_teaguide“How To Make Tea: The Science Behind The Leaf” was developed by Seattle’s Brian Keating and his co-author Kim Long of Denver. The publisher, Ivy Press, which is based in Britain, describes it as “‘a fascinating and invaluable handbook for anyone who doesn’t want to settle for less than the perfect brew.”

The book relies on the science and chemistry of tea to give advice for the best experience. Keating believes North America is on the verge of a massive rise in interest in tea and tea culture and that the British will be eclipsed in this area. You could almost hear the dismissive sighs from across the ocean.

The fury comes on the heels of a study from earlier this year that claimed that 80% of British tea drinkers steep their brew for less than two minutes, yielding a less than optimal cuppa.

SOURCE: The Daily Mail, Metro UK, and The Sunday Times

Book Review: Modern Tea by Lisa Boalt Richardson

Book Review: Modern Tea by Lisa Boalt Richardson

Over the past ten years some new and groundbreaking tea books have hit the market and become instant industry classics. “The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide” by Mary Lou Heiss and Robert Heiss was released and took its place as a veritable textbook for tea enthusiasts. It was nominated for a James Beard Book Award and an IACP Cookbook Award and also won Best Tea Book in the USA from Gourmand Awards and a bronze for Best Tea Book in the World in 2008. The expanded version of “A Social History of Tea” by Jane Pettigrew and Bruce Richardson was considered a must-have before it even hit the shelves. Cynthia Gold’s “Culinary Tea” pushed other books aside on cookbook stands. The heavily researched “Tea: History, Terroirs, Varietals” by Kevin Gascoyne presented the science that many students of tea have longed for. I do not hesitate to say that Lisa Boalt Richardson’s newest book, “Modern Tea,” belongs in this impressive grouping.

LisaRichardson_headshot2013Richardson is not new to tea writing, having won Best Tea Book USA in 2009 for “Tea with a Twist.” She is an educator and consultant and has been featured in publications including The New York Times, Real Simple and Tea Time Magazine. She has also previously published “The World in Your Teacup: Celebrating Tea and Traditions Near and Far.”

“Modern Tea” is not a particularly lengthy book, at 164 pages, but it is packed with engaging stories, beautiful images and valuable information. “Tea is a beverage,” it begins, “…a commodity, a ceremony, an afternoon tradition, a drink of peace, a pick-me-up, a path to meditation, and much more.” As I read through the text it occurred to me that it is the perfect book both for those who are already tea enthusiasts, but also those who have newly discovered their passion and want a comprehensive primer for their explorations.

Richardson offers a mix of well-researched history interspersed with personal stories that give warmth and color and make the world of tea feel close at hand. The tales will definitely inspire the armchair traveler in many readers. While the general topics covered in the book have been written about elsewhere, this book makes it seem brand new, with Richardson’s personality bursting off the page.

ModernTeaCoverJPGThe book begins with thorough explanations of the tea types but the author keeps it fresh and new with her own memories and lessons learned from visits to tea plantations and growing regions. There are detailed sections on buying and storing tea, along with both eastern and western steeping style descriptions. The step-by-step nature of these pages provide actionable items for readers and made me think again about some of my own practices. The lovely descriptions of various tea ceremonies including Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, English and Moroccan, not only bring us into those worlds, but also give us the knowledge we need to recreate versions of those ceremonies at home.

Richardson never hesitates to delve into the science of tea, looking at olfactory experiences from this vantage point, along with data around antioxidants and caffeine. Staying close to her roots she also shares her thoughts on pairing tea with other foods, cooking with tea and tea cocktails, as well as ways to use tea in body care products.

I do feel the need to disclose that through my years in the American tea world, Richardson has become a friend. But she has also been a valuable teacher as I pursued my Level 1 and 2 certifications with the Specialty Tea Institute. Her knowledge was thorough and she is an approachable and enthusiastic educator. I am delighted to say that these qualities come through clearly on the page. I strongly recommend that you give “Modern Tea” a read and that you share it with others who are beginning their journey in tea.



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!


Tea Magazine Evolves…

PHILADELPHIA, Penn. — Tea Magazine® a 20-year-old consumer publication for tea enthusiasts is replacing its bi-monthly print edition with a combined print +online content package for its readers, including a new book-style softcover guide to tea published annually.

In mid-April ITEM Media will launch The Daily Tea ( a subscription-based tea portal replacing Visitors to the site will see a mix of free and paid content, along with new articles each month, and some previously published in Tea Magazine. Subscribers have their choice of several different newsletters — for example, newsletters targeted to those interested in cooking with tea; Yoga and tea; tea travel and terroir.

Chief Media Officer Graham Kilshaw

Chief Media Officer Graham Kilshaw

Subscribers will get at least three new feature articles a month, “…the articles will be accompanied by video, behind-the-scenes interviews and picture galleries, which is a lot more than we could do in print,” said Chief Media Officer Graham Kilshaw.

Since acquiring the magazine in January 2012, “we have built the audience from just a couple of thousand to more than 30,000. Most of this growth has come from our digital platforms, and very little has come from our print media,” said Kilshaw.

“We now see an opportunity to grow our audience significantly beyond its current 30,000 people – digitally. Consequently we are going to make several changes starting in May 2014,” he said.

The 150-page book-style magazine, often referred to as a “bookazine” will have longer in-depth feature articles on science, geography and history and “great photography,” said Kilshaw. There will also be a catalog of tea products, said Kilshaw. The publication will be mailed to all subscribers and sold nationally in bookstores and by grocers including Whole Foods Market.

Annual subscriptions are $24.99 and include the new $9.99 “Tea Magazine 2015 Tea Guide” mailed annually in September.
Kilshaw was upbeat about the new direction which he described as “evolving from predominately print with a little bit of digital to becoming predominately digital with a little bit of print.”

“This is all about aligning our goals and strategy with our resources. Producing the print magazine required us to spend 80 percent of our resources on 20 percent of the content. During the past 24 months print subscriptions increased by a couple of thousand while our digital audience has grown by five times,” he said.

LOGO_TeaMagazine_400px“The change in the mix of media is driven by our readers,” said Kilshaw. “Print generally-speaking attracts an older demographic and we want to reach a broad audience. Younger tea drinkers are forming their tea habits now, experimenting widely and trying out lots of different teas. They represent the future customers of our media clients,” he said, adding , “We want to build a very large audience for the tea community.”

The company expects to soon announce a new content manager to replace Kate Sullivan who left in December.

Learn more:

More Holiday Tea Trends

Last week I talked about teaware and accessory trends for 2014 and how that could affect the holiday retail market. This week I look more closely at the tea side (with a brief foray into related products) and some interesting sales strategies.

There are hundreds of sources of specialty tea in the marketplace in standalone retail tea shops, in grocery and gourmet food markets, in online tea shops. Tea enthusiasts are not hesitant to explore the spectrum and seek out new and unique lines. When it comes to the holidays, however, the landscape shifts a bit.

Retailers need to consider that the holiday buyer is often NOT the tea-interested party, but rather a loved one looking to find a great gift. It is important to make it easy for these shoppers to find the perfect gifts to suit their needs. This is where packaging, positioning and marketing will be even more important.

Tea Packaging/Marketing

DavidsTea Tea TreeDAVIDsTEA went all-in on the holiday packaging this year. There are mugs with Fair Isle sweater patterns, holiday tea collections in stylish boxes, and even tree ornaments that arrive full of tea. They have combined this effort with strategic email communications that present a handful of their most visually appealing products with quick links to purchase. They have already sold out of their “24 Days of Tea” Advent calendar. Creative packaging catches eyes and sales.

Single box gift sets offer convenience and suggest to a customer that they are purchasing something that has a seal of approval from a tea expert. Harney & Sons Fine Teas, for example, knows their market and emphasizes “tradition,” creating a holiday gift offering that highlights a well-loved tea blend along with an infuser mug and gourmet jam. Teavana takes a similar approach with their 12 Holidays of Tea set. Emphasize your experience and knowledge of what tea lovers want.

The best products don’t make a business successful if customers don’t know you have them. In your store and in your online presence, make sure you are helping customers find what they need. Storefront sellers have become adept at product placement, using visual cues to draw attention. Online sellers must do the same. Companies like Tay Tea are exercising good practice in creating a separate page on their site where their “holiday gifts” are listed together. There is nothing particularly “holiday” about the items, but by grouping them and promoting them in this way, they are highlighting existing products as having gift potential.

An Add On about Add-Ons

Matcha Mint Julep Lip Balm PicAs you think about your tea collections and creative ways to group and sell products, it is also useful to consider add-on products. We often see tea tins combined with teaware or accessories. But how about something different? Companies like iHeartTeas and Glenburn Tea Direct are creating tea cosmetics and bath and body products.

Books are another useful add-on item for visual appeal. You could display fictional offerings, like Laura Childs’ tea shop mysteries, non-fiction like Mary Lou Heiss and Robert Heiss’s “The Story of Tea” or Sarah Rose’s “For All the Tea in China,” or perhaps essays like “A Tea Reader: Living Life One Cup at a Time” by one of your favorite Tea Biz writers. (wink wink)

Okay, tea retailers, what are your holiday plans to catch attention and make sales this season?

Wild Tea Hunter

Author: J.T. Hunter
Illustrator: Shana Zhang

The allure of China stimulates author J.T. Hunter’s sense of adventure as he takes readers off the beaten path into the major tea producing regions in search of uncultivated tea.

He writes with a sensitive appreciation of ancient Chinese tea culture. His respect for the tea growers and tea masters is drawn from his willingness to sit and listen carefully in their homes and shops where he sometimes stays for days at time — long enough to learn tea’s subtleties.

WildTeaHunter_CoverHis is a book that brings into focus not just the taste, but the experience of tea.

He shares his knowledge in depth, introducing the characters and describing the humble villages, the mountains, forests and terrain that appear exotic in travel brochures. Yet the people he meets are quite approachable.

Take Master Yu, who introduced him to Wild Lapsang Souchong, revealing not just the taste sensations, but the reverence of a culture that prizes the feeling of tea.

“Every tea has a different Qi quality; Wild Lapsang Souchong has a rising energy. Notice how the sweet chocolate aftertaste sticks to your mouth, adding a sense of fullness… feel the energy rise through your body,” writes Hunter who describes a sensory experience that requires preparation well beyond that of tea drinkers in the West. Hunter’s lifelong study of Qigong, the ancient Taoist practice of moving energy in and around the body through breath and visualization, has readied him.

“Cleansing the internal and external body before drinking tea is a Taoist practice,” he writes. Clean your mind of thoughts by breathing deeply… repeat for a few cycles. Then wash your hands and face; follow by drinking a cup of pure hot water to cleanse the internal. Only then do you savor the tea.

“Taoist sects believe that we are constantly absorbing energy from nature. This is why Taoist monks live high in the mountains, surrounded by beautiful, wild forests with fresh air and good energetic alignment. Tea is a way to ingest energy, it helps them attain a higher level of enlightenment,” explains Hunter who uses the text to reveal his lifelong study of medicine, martial arts and religion.

While Hunter’s book shares with us the beauty of tea and its tea artisans, it is also a practical guide to the cultivation of tea and an explanation of his own efforts to organize and make these teas available to customers of

His selling methods reflect what he has learned in his travels. For example, he groups his teas according their affiliation with the five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. These elements are interlinked (water corrodes metal, earth snuffs out fire) and associated with the seasons as well as organs in the body. Black tea is born by fire, he writes, and shares some of fire’s characteristics and is most closely associated with the heart.

Hunter’s tea study began when he traveled to China to practice healing arts in a free clinic. Tea is integral to the practice of medicine, according to Hunter. “People in the U.S. drink tea for reasons that differ greatly from why the Chinese drink tea,” writes Hunter, who then describes the intricate connection between specific tea, the organs and the elements.

Wild Tea Qi now specializes in sourcing and sharing information about the crafting wild teas such as those of Yunnan, as well as trees in less well-known regions such as Wuchuang and Cheshui County in Guizhou province and in Sichuan province.

“The Taoists I met in Wuyishan drank Oolongs and black teas. Those in Wudangshan prefer green. The general rule is to drink teas made locally, Hunter explains.

His 152-page work reads as trekking adventure at times, with chapters devoted to the discovery of teas like those used to make Purple Puer, a much prized tea from Yunnan that sells for $8 a gram. Along the way he experiences the ethnic minorities of the region including the Wa, Hani and Yi tribes all in his successful pursuit of legendary trees centuries old.

His travels raised his awareness of damage to the ecosystem and the need for sustainable practices. He issues a call to action for consumers to create a ripple that can become a big wave as the tea industry gets bigger and bigger.

To those who ask “what can I do?” Hunter advises that consumers should become informed about where tea is sourced. “Buy tea that is sustainably harvested from trees that grow naturally in an undisturbed environment,” writes Hunter. He favors gardens that integrate with the local ecology and wildlife. In such places, flowers such as orchids grown naturally around and on the tea trees, adding an incredible flavor to the tea, he writes.

“What started as an adventure of discovery of beautifully rich tea cultures changed my life,” said Hunter. The artisans that grow tea in bio-diverse plantations make better tea, he said. Their way of life should be preserved.

“I felt a great responsibility to purchase their teas in order to support them,” he said, “even though I loved some teas from destructive plantations, my conscience would not allow me to buy them.”

“My adventures continue. I hope readers will share my message of hope in support of conscious tea drinking: Our beautiful planet and a rich tea cultivation tea culture is what is at stake here,” he said.

—  Dan Bolton is  the editor of Tea Biz.

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 2054 KB
Publisher: Wild Tea Qi Publishing (May 28, 2013)
Price: $8.99
Sold by: Amazon