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Elemental Tea Series: Making connections

by Ali Roth August 20, 2021

The act of drinking tea connects us to so much.  Through each sip we can taste flavors that have been absorbed from soils and waters around the world.  We can pick up on notes that are artfully achieved through generations of knowledge and skillful practice.  We are reminded of places we’ve been and people we’ve shared our lives with through scents and familiar flavors.  In this way, tea has the ability to transport us. 

Through the practice of different methods of tea preparation, we can build connections to people around the world, intensify our understandings of how tea affects us, and reflect on our own abilities to bring those realizations into other areas of our lives.

With these curated Puerh cakes, I hope to help build more connections.  Tea is so much more than a plant, or a beverage.  It is an elixir that tethers us to nature while also transporting us through time in space. It connects us with memories past and future possibilities. 

These cakes were chosen to explore how different teas can exemplify elements of nature.  Each one comes from a different region and harvest.  Ranging from 1995 to late 2020, these sheng and shou puerhs offer a range of flavor and experiences.  

You can experience all of these teas as a set, or individually.  

Roots | Tea is a product of the earth and has the innate ability to alter our physical state.  Shou puerh, especially old growth and aged puerh, creates a warmth in the body, drawing our energy into our core, anchoring us.  As you sip this tea, notice the pull towards the earth as the tea builds heat within.  Taste the depth and richness of nutrients that these old roots have cultivated and absorbed into its leaves.  Feel the energy that this tea exudes as it is awakened from its decades-long aging.  You can almost feel it thanking you for bringing it back to life. 

We've represented this element of nature with our 1995 Roots Shou Puerh 

Minerals | Tea plants develops flavor through their connection to the air, water and the soil.  Minerals are present in every soil structure and help to nurture tea plants and humans alike.  When drinking this tea, notice the increasing depth in flavor that comes with each steep.  As the water reaches deeper in to the leaf it brings us closer to the heart of the tea through the veins carrying precious minerals.  This tea has in innate ability to center us while nourishing us.

We've represented this element of nature with our 2016 Minerals Shou Puerh 

Light | Plant buds hold the prospect of new growth and within them the ability to create.  Energetically, sheng brings energy into the mind, sparking creativity and helping inspire ideas.  Much like shining a light in a dark corner, sheng puerh can illuminate dormant ideas and help us realize aspirations.  When drinking this tea, allow your mind to wander and see what new ideas start to come into focus. 

We've represented this element of nature with our Spring 2020 Light Sheng Puerh with Buds

Wind | Sheng puerh has an invigorating and cooling effect on the body.  It brings our energy into our minds, sparking creativity and energizing us.  When drinking this tea, notice the sensations it leaves you with.  Can you feel the coolness of your breath in your throat as you breathe?  Much like a refreshing breeze, this tea offers a crisp, pleasant sensation.  It draws awareness to the point where the air that moves around us becomes the air within us. 

We've represented this element of nature with our Autumn 2020 Wind Sheng Puerh

A note about sheng and shou puerh:

Sheng Puerh is a process of making tea that has been in use for thousands of years.  Raw tea (maocha) is partially heated to stop oxidation, but left with enough enzymes to allow the tea to ferment over time.  The teas are typically pressed to create an environment condusive to fermentation and left for years to slowly transform.  Young sheng puerh is slightly astringent and cools the body's core, offering a more enlivening energy.  Over decades, the tea will reach a level of fermentation that causes the tea to visibly darken and soften into a rich, deep earthy drink.  It shifts properties and becomes more energetically grounding and warming to the body's core.  The characteristics of an aged sheng puerh are what shou puerh is working to achieve.

Shou Puerh is made to mimic the fermentation sheng puerh takes decades to achieve.  The leaves go through a piling process that is not unlike a compost pile.  Heat and moisture are carefully applied to expedite fermentation while also monitoring it to keep it safe for consumption.  The flavor characteristics are rich and earthy and it has an inherently grounding energy that warms the body's internal systems.  Because of the warming and the fermentation, it it often recommended for people who experience digestive issues.  

This is a very simple explanation and I will be doing follow up posts to go more in depth about this process, preparation and storage.

Ali Roth
Ali Roth


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