It turns out that Erick had lived in Taiwan for 8 years primarily to study Mandarin. It just happen to be that he ran into a spiritual sect of tea drinkers near his residence which was headed by a famous but very eccentric tea spiritualist, Ho Tsai-Ping. This tea sect formally began in 2003. Erick and a few other westerners were a part of this groups early beginnings. One of these Westerners was no other than now tea author Wu De (Arron Fisher). In fact, the tea sect of Ho Tasai-Ping formed the foundation theory for which Arron Fisher has based his tea books and writings.
Together Erick Smithe and Aaron Fisher acted as editors of famous free online publication The Leaf. Org. Erick ended up publishing an article entitled "After Hearing A Monk of Shu Play the Lute". As it turns out, Aaron Fisher later decided to break from the sect to start his very own. It is too bad that Aaron Fisher has abandon The Leaf.Org publication as it was such a deep source of tea knowledge. One can only imagine that he must have put his energy in selling his own books and building up his global tea hut brand. Hopefully we have not seen the end of The Leaf.Org!
Erick has been in Vancouver Canada for the last year and a half or so. He currently has his hands in many different tea related business projects. We discussed these things as well as others over strangely named delicious old puerh teas. The teas that he was selling are all offered on the Cloudwalker Teas website. We talked for a while and ended up sampling the whole selection of his aged puerh. They were all good teas especially compared to the other teas the exhibitors were pushing. And as an hour or so passed we ended up jittery from the strong Qi from the 12, 15, 20, 30, and 40 year old puerh which one had sampled.
All of his puerh teas have strange names (Soul Fire, Ancient Rhythms, The Silent Spring, Astral Rivers, Light of Peace), not at all the factory names where these teas come but rather based on a system of judging the qi of each tea. The extraordinary book Eric translated, Cha-Dao- From Tea to Tao, explains all about this very unconventional naming system. Basically the tea is sampled by the tea sect and then it is given a name and graded according to its Qi. This is done, they say because even if two puerh cakes from the same factory are sampled storage conditions my have completely influenced the qi of the tea. The down side of this system of naming and grading puerh is that it affords all of the power in deciding which teas are graded high and which are graded low to the tea sect. It also prevents others from comparing that same factory, recipe, and harvest year to other cakes that are the same except storage. Either way it is an interesting proposal.
The book, which is available from Clouldwaker Tea, is actually quite remarkable and gives the English speaking world insight to what goes on in the growing tea cult movement in Taiwan and China. Of note is the content on water, teawear and tea preparation. The material is far out, interesting, and one could relate to most of its message. Guess it is controversial enough for the Chinese government to ban the founder, Ho Tasai-Ping from entering China.
Great tea, great conversation- thanks Eric.