I’ve always looked at this image with great perplexity. It just takes me to another era. It represents a traditional world that we no longer experience and shows us the hardship of peoples’ life in those days. These potters would walk with 150 to 300 pounds of tea on their back and trudge up to 6 miles per day in the Tea Horse route that went from Sichuan or Yunnan to Tibet. Tea was exchanged for horses. The Tea Horse route of course defined tremendously the tea itself. Large tea varietals were pressed, as they still are today, into bricks in order to facilitate transportation. By the time the tea reached its destination, its characteristics had effectively changed.
We, who love tea, are keeping this tradition alive.
As for this humble chazhuang, we will be soon offering another brand.
A few years ago I saw an amazing documentary about puer tea production in Yiwu, Yunnan. It was a research project by the anthropologist Jinghong Zhang, a Yunnan University lecturer . The documentary is composed by several parts but the one I found most interesting was the one featuring a tea producer named Mr. Zheng. This wasn’t a promotional video. Mr. Zheng wasn’t trying to sell his tea. It was instead a research project into the puer world where he shared his knowledge with the author. I was so impressed that I tried to find his teas for a long time without success. Eventually, I managed to reach Mr. Zheng and decided to open Tea Encounter website where I can now share his teas with others. In case you haven’t had the chance to see the documentary and you are a puer tea drinker, I would strongly recommend you to.
And now the journey begins. Perhaps it just continues. I decided to open this tea shop as a way of continuing my tea journey, as a way of accessing teas that I found inaccessible in the west, as a way of visiting tea mountains, knowing tea producers and sharing my interest in tea with others. Tea drinking is an incomparable experience that leaves marks on us like very few other things would in life. I still remember vividly tea sessions that I had several years ago. I feel blessed being able to experience such moments. I think we, tea drinkers, all feel that. In the last few years, I have quietly listened to people discussing tea in the online community which showed me how others, outside China, share the same passion for tea. That motivated me to open this shop and to be part of that conversation.
Here I will not make statements, such as a tea being from an 800-year-old tree, that could hardly be proven. I will never use health benefits for the purpose of selling tea. I may express that tea experience is some sort of meditation, as I believe it is, but I don’t want to use Buddhism or any other eastern philosophy with a commercial interest. What I want to do is to share and offer tea experiences.