Even though February was my month of tea travel, travel is not an isolated event. I felt like I spent a month preparing and readying beforehand and a month processing and recovering afterwards.
I brought back this large paper from an art store in Taiwan, almost double the width of a usual scroll, as you cut it yourself. I thought since these three months have blended together for me, I would allow them to be expressed in that way as well, each taking up a third of the paper. I used an ink stick I bought in Taiwan, mixed with each of the tea of the months, for the ink on each enso.
January 2018 "Tieguanyin" 2017 Traditional Oolong
January's Tea & Tao Magazine from Global Tea Hut was about Tea and Diet. I learned about diet while I served at Tea Sage Hut. I got to help prepare meals, all served bowl style. I got to water the growing farm, cut herbs right before they were needed in the recipe, and see organic vegetables bought from a farmer's market, and surprisingly, the art store. I learned I do have time for cooking and to treasure the connection with the food and the time spent making it. I miss papaya.
The tea part of the January issue, "Teiguanyin," was provided by Mr. Xie, whose farm I got to visit during my stay at the Hut. I got to pick tea, two small leaves and a bud set, and then we got to process it over a traditional wok stove to make green tea. Mr. Xie dried the tea for us while he served us many delicious teas he makes, and we all left a little tea drunk and with our own bag of green tea we had all helped to make. For my "Teiguanyin" enso I printed two of the spent leaves to make it look like the bud and leaf sets I had picked.
February 2018 "Samadhi" Late 1990s Shou Puerh
February's Tea & Tao Magazine was about Tea & Zen. It actually didn't come before I left, but there was a copy waiting in the guest room at the Hut. At the Hut they practice what they call "daily life Zen." I'm still not sure I know exactly what Zen is, but to me, I learned that you can find treasure pulling weeds, that it really is nice to just be without knitting or reading, and that once I found a way to sit that my hip didn't hurt and my leg didn't fall asleep immediately, I came to love the morning and evening hour long meditations .
I also now associate Zen with the smell of incense, which was practically always going on one of the many altars at the Hut. I lit a coil I had purchased from Taiwan while I enjoyed a session with Samadhi. February's enso was inspired by a spent coil of incense, and I rubbed some ash on it as well.
March 2018 "Swirling Mist" 2014 Sheng Puerh
March's Tea & Tao Magazine was about Tea Travels. How fitting. In between staying and serving at the Hut, I traveled to Sun Moon Lake for a few days. It was terrifying for me and I cried the whole first train, but thanks to information centers where someone usually spoke English, and kind police officers who got me where I needed to be from my written instructions, I made it safely. I wanted to go there because the very first tea I had from Global Tea Hut, in October 2016, Elevation, was from that area. Each day I would spend half the day being adventurous and I meditated in a temple, hiked to see old tea trees, and visited a monastery and tree garden. The other half of the day I rested and recouped in my room with tea on the patio and time for art journaling and yoga.
"Swirling Mist" arriving was special. During some service periods at the Hut, I actually got to help quality control the March magazine issue and prepare and pack some tea tins. I had a lot of fun trying to get just the right amount of tea into the tin and did get it once on the first try! So when "Swirling Mist" arrived, I didn't heed the instructions to allow her to settle from her travels. I was incredibly jet-lagged and decided we could be jet-lagged together and keep each other company. The enso for her was about the sensation of traveling, the ups and downs, the stretching and amazing, the grace and provision.