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"My Tea Dream, My Tea Life Trilogy", Part I: From No Dream to Dream

(Photo: me and my cousin at West Lake, Hangzhou, China)

Tea is very familiar to me because Chinese people drink it every day. I didn't drink much tea when I was a child, but my parents always had  thermos in their hands and filled with teas. When I went out with them, they would ask me often "Want some tea?", especially my father's, were full of tea stains, and I really didn't feel like drinking them, and he had some teapots in his collection; he won't even let me touch them. That time, I didn't think tea was a "magical" thing; I only knew that it was available every day. My hometown is especially rich in Longjing, Anji Baicha, and Mogan Huangya. So I never drank any other tea as a child besides those I mentioned. Not to mention Fenghuang Dancong or Taiping Houkui; I had never heard of them. The funny part is that schools would organize spring and autumn trips to the tea mountains. I didn't even glance at the tea tree next to me; I only cared about the snacks in my hand. So I had no tea dreams when I was a child.

However, in high school, I should be grateful for tea because my best friend and I liked to go to teahouses to study, and we would spend an afternoon in teahouses without hearing our parents, haha. We didn't have a coffee shop that time, so a teahouse is a coffee shop. Almost every teahouse has its own separate room. The main purpose is not tea but snacks, and these snacks are available with unlimited refills, just like unlimited drinks in the United States. Yes. we were foodies, still are. So there was no tea dream in high school.

But throughout the growth process, I am still very grateful to my parents for "selling" me on some training classes, such as calligraphy, traditional Chinese painting, erhu, and traditional Chinese dance. In fact, I am not good at any of those; otherwise, I would be a big star right now. But these basic studies have laid a solid foundation for my future research and study of tea and tea culture.

After graduating from high school, I went to Japan to study abroad. After finally knowing what it means to be influenced by my ears, eyes, and mouth through experiencing the Japanese tea ceremony, drinking lots of bottled oolong tea or matcha latte and eating lots of matcha donuts for a few years, my tea dream began to take root. There are always doubts in my mind. This culture's roots must be traced back to China. Ok, I will fast-forward the life story a bit since it was all 15 years ago.

In traveling and living abroad, wherever I went to get some Chinese tea in coffee shops or tea houses, I felt that the tea they sold seemed to be of a different taste and appearance from what I remembered. And you can't even see the tea leaves; they're all in the tea bags. I felt as though, as a Chinese, I grew up in the hometown of Longjing tea, but I had to spend money on the tea that represented the wrong of Chinese teas. So I decided to start learning about tea for two reasons: one, to learn the culture of my own country, and two, to share this culture with foreign friends who like to drink tea, or to be qualified to tell the coffee shop that you sold the wrong tea.

In early 2017, I started contacting some tea schools and teachers in China, and I was quite shocked when I heard about the tuition fees. But this did not prevent me from learning tea. Even though I was in the United States, I found good resources online, including tea courses and books in both languages such as the history of tea, tea production, and tea evaluation. In the process of learning, I read stories about famous teas, tea cultivation, and tea masters. The more I read, the more I want to visit tea plantations and study tea culture in China. Besides, I don't have much tea or tea sets on hand. For the next two years, I worked quite a lot and tried to save money for China. On some weekends, I enjoyed going to coffee shops to drink American ice tea and learn Chinese tea, which was very dramatic. During this time, I would also go to communities, schools, and hospitals to spread and share Chinese culture. This part has laid another solid foundation for me to study Chinese tea culture in the future. (This part is just to echo the previous paragraph.)

Finally, in the first half of 2019, I found a good tea art course in Beijing on the Internet, especially because the teacher’s background is very strong. I asked about the tuition fee, and I had saved enough money to live and study in Beijing at that time, so I flew directly to Beijing instead of going home. can not wait anymore.

The second part of the experience of learning tea in Beijing continues to be shared in Part II. 

I am in the front with snack and water, teas are behind us.

I'm the middle one; tea and bamboo are behind us.

Photo took 2019, Me and my best friend, Ni Jia, haven't seen each other in 7 years. We decided to meet up with the one we always went to when we were in high school. Remodeled, but same type of snacks and teas.

American ice tea! I like it.

I use Google Play and the WeChat Book App to find all those great tea books; they are in Chinese, but there is a good translation App you can find.

"Tao Te Ching" mural, part of the money was in my tea tuition. ;P

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