The New Year for Global Tea Hut

We’ve lifted the cap on our Global Tea Hut membership in an effort to both improve your GTH experience, and moreover, to materialize the building of our new tea center: Light Meets Life. Check out this video to hear about all the amazing changes happening in 2014 and help us reach two thousand members by 2015!


Willing to Do, Happy to Bear

Well, in the “about” section of my blog, I address you, the reader, as courteous, but just how art thou to be a courteous reader if thy has nothing to read! Absurd I know. Though, absent have I been for good reason. It all has to do with Tea of course. And since I now lack the time to keep any form of regular blog entries, I leave you, dear courteous reader, with one final TLC entry. Though I close one door, a much larger one opens…

Some of you know I live in Taiwan now. Below is a snippet into my new life. I wrote this for a newsletter called the Global Tea Hut, a global community of Spirit-minded tea imbibers. Below is just an article I wrote, but I’d recommend reading the entire newsletter here: Newsletter #12, January 2013. You can also read all of the previous GTH newsletters here. And if you’d like to become a member of our growing, loving community, you can sign up for the Tea of the Month, which means you’ll be receiving a paper copy of the newsletter, a tea gift, and “living” organic tea, while at the same supporting our tea center here in Taiwan and more importantly, supporting organic tea farmers and venders in Taiwan and Asia. Of course, if would be much better if you just come visit us at our center! We always have a bowl of tea ready for you, healthy vegetarian food, and comfortable, safe accommodations — all free of charge. That’s just what we do. We are here to serve. Oh yeah! and here’s a video detailing our future mountainside center: Light Meets Life.

Camellia Sinensis Blossom


It is said that as a student of this tradition, one does not simply learn how to make tea, but how to serve it. In one sense, this is meant literally, as in the learning of how to prepare and serve tea to guests who frequent our wayside hut. (Wonderful, beautiful guests from near and far. Please know that we are learning to serve you tea!) We are intimately working with water, teaware, tea, and heat sources to better communicate with this Leaf so that it may seamlessly convey its messages of Truth and Nature to us. In developing the skills to prepare tea with grace and gongfu, it is not so much us serving you as it is the Leaf serving you through us. Dearest Camellia has so much wisdom to offer and the avenue of Tea has been chosen to drive that wisdom home to us. In service, we are the road-keepers, sweeping the dust that inevitably settles for the many vehicles of truth that pass.

There is so much more to consider, directly pertaining to serving tea, both functional and aesthetic, seasonal and logistical, musical and spiritual, but I would like to consider the many other faces that tea-service takes indirectly. For this is not a pompous place; we are not here to simply serve tea and offer some sort of escape or bliss-out experience. We are not just here to brew and imbibe tea blind to the problems that the world faces today — in fact it is just the opposite. Tea brewed and consumed in the manner conducted here can open our eyes to the underlying reality that is. This is a thriving and dynamic tradition, very much alive, with a great purpose in mind: one that seeks to promote self-cultivation, meditation, sustainability, community, and a greater sense of connection with ourselves, one another, and Nature. Tea is the Great Connector. This sort of mission requires a lot, to say the least.

As a relatively new student learning the very basics, serving tea, for me, much more often means fetching water, buying groceries, doing the dishes, preparing meals, taking out the trash, watering plants, and cleaning doggy doo-doo. What has this to do with the service of tea? What have these menial responsibilities to do with the art of serving tea, and in a greater sense, the art of living? Lucky for all of us, we have a lively, beautiful, and functional center, largely in part due to a small group of people (including all of you!), and in particular, a teacher within that group who can allow Tea to serve through him. Therefore, in order for that opportunity of service to arise, simple daily tasks and everyday errands must be carried out. That’s where we, the students come in. That’s very often our role in serving tea. For while it may seem silly, not a drop of tea could be had, had the bills not been paid; the dishes not been cleaned; the bedding not been bought; and the physical space that makes so much of this possible not been duly tended to and made available to all of you at any time for free. All of the grandeur to be found at this center is not without the smallest detail: never negligible, but often unnoticed. To answer the questions I posed before, then, it becomes a little more clear that learning to serve tea means learning to carry out the responsibilities that make the literal service of tea possible. (Yes, that includes cleaning dog poop. It’s in the fine print.)

Naturally, my answer to the question, “What are you doing in Taiwan?” is that I am a student of the Leaf: a student of Tea. After all, I’ve moved halfway across the world and committed my time to some wayside joint called the Tea Sage Hut! What I’m learning is that being a student of tea means to be a student of serving tea, and to be a student of serving tea, within the realm of ChaDao, ultimately means to be a student of service. Tea is the medium through which we serve, and it’s a very conductive medium at that. But is an act of service carried out with ill-will the same as an act of service carried out with Love? Am I fetching water because I have to, or because I love to? Does it make a difference? On the level of surface, fetching water might look like fetching water, and like water itself, two different samples might look the same, but from where they were sourced is paramount. So too, where is our service sourced from? An inner Spring nestled within the Heart of compassion, or a rusty tap spouting from the ego? From where you source your intention makes all the difference in the energy that radiates from you out to the world. Just like the koans of Zen; anything you say or do in the right frame of mind is the right answer, and anything you say or do outside of that mind is the wrong answer, even if it’s the right answer! Spirituality has nothing to do with what you believe in and everything to do with your frame of consciousness.

There is a role of service to be played here, and it’s not so much the corporeal act of carrying it out as it is the intention with which you perform it. This is no simple task either. If actions speak louder than words then intentions break the sound barrier. I am inspired by Dharma Master Cheng Yen who said, “We must be willing to do and be happy to bear.” There is a lot to do as a student of the Leaf and that can be challenging, but where will growth and development come if not from somewhere outside our comfort zone. Surely, there is little room for growth when you’re having a good time! Let us be happy to bear, and let that happiness overflow into what must be done, in the form of pure intention.

Again, we must reflect; to be a student of tea within the realm of this tradition means to be a student of tea through service, and to truly perform that service, a particular frame of mind must be achieved (a state of presence in other words). Therefore, a student of tea must also be a student of mastery of mind.

Let us not get carried away though, nor get caught up in the role of a student or service person; it’s not about that. I don’t want to portray this life as something too serious. Life is pretty simple here: we drink tea, meditate, eat well, sleep, and work. The idea is to be willing to do whatever is required of you in any situation with great intention and presence, and be happy to bear that responsibility. Easier said than done, but it’s a challenge worth accepting…

Tea Sage Hut

Love and Light
Be Happy

Reflecting on New Moon


Time in Costa Rica strings together a little more seamlessly than its Northern and Southern counterparts; what with their prominent seasonal changes and fluctuations in day-length. For example, I recently finished my 3-month internship at Finca Luna Nueva in Costa Rica and instead of feeling like 90 days, chronologically played out, it felt more like one drawn out (and utterly enjoyable) day with some sunshine here, some rain there, 12 hours of day, and 12 hours of night. Sure, both the 6+ earthquakes and one violent tropical storm act as distinguishing points in time, but even their beginnings and endings fade into the larger scheme of things. In that sense, it’s always a good time for reflection to consider what we’ve accomplished and where we’ve changed, so that it too doesn’t blend into the illusion of time here. Perhaps a cob oven was built, a certification pursued, a tea garden planted, or labourous farm work accomplished – and maybe some serious fun was had throughout, not to mention all of the friends made and lives changed? That kind of stuff happens in an environment like the one at Finca Luna Nueva.


I would also like to gently consider the lunar significance behind the name: Finca Luna Nueva or New Moon Farm. What causes the New Moon anyways and what is to be found within this lunar event? Is it not the time when the moon roughly aligns between the Earth and Sun, basking in the light, not to be seen, but there nonetheless? And is this not a beautiful reminder for us to embrace the light, align with Nature, and see things…aNew? What, if anything, does this have to do with Finca Luna Nueva anyways? It is after all, a Demeter certified Biodynamic farm and Biodynamics not only offers tools for us to heal Mother Gaia, like lunar gardening, but insightful tools to heal ourselves. It is a recipe for positive change. New Moon Farm in this sense can been seen as a place of healing, and lest we forget the Sacred Seed Sanctuary and slow food movement so central to the earnest and genuine character of this farm.

So many things to consider within this blurry frame of time…


Another unique characteristic of this farm is its role as a jungle window. There’s good reason that plants and animals flourish in this farm and that’s because instead of closing itself off from the surrounding jungle, Finca Luna Nueva has encouraged indigenous growth and safe passage for birds, butterflies, monkeys, reptiles, arachnids, and even bacteria and fungi. It’s a like a small window in the jungle, lightly manicured, but raw enough to keep things real! There really is a special energy about this place that encourages expansion and connection.


Anyways, these are just some of my passing thoughts as I move on from this adventure to the next one, which has me back in Taiwan at the Tea Sage Hut. It really was a blessing of an opportunity to work in such an environment as the one embodied at Finca Luna Nueva. In particular, I was able to embark  down the very uncharted path of tea and biodynamics in Central America, a path I pursued with rapt enthusiasm.  Whether writing poetry on the subject, drawing pictures, pruning, weeding, planting, taking notes, making observations, or doing computer research, I was having the time of my life.  All the while becoming more intimate with the plant I’ve so dearly come to love, Camellia Sinensis. As a result, there is a new place for Tea at FLN, possibly even a new tradition, and I couldn’t be happier.



Thank You Finca Luna Nueva and everyone involved! That was a wild and spectacular 3 months.

Pura Vida!



chocolate picante con café

Meet our spicy coffee chocolate pyramid! Brought to you in part by Finca Luna Nueva Interns

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Fruit Kimchi (Fruit-Chi)

Alright, here’s the ingredients for this spectacular fruit-based Kimchi.
See below for quantities. Machete optional.

This recipe is modified from Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz




a bunch of Jackfruit * (I only used about a quarter of what you see in the above picture)
guanabana *
coconut *
(substitute for any fruit you have available and use as much as will fit in your fermenting jar)
1/2 cup almonds (or any nut)
Juice of 1 lemon *
1 bunch culantro, chopped *
2 tbps sea salt

Cut as you please and add in a big mixing bowl.


Blender mix
1/2 onion (I’m conservative with the onion; it’s a sharp flavour against the fruit)
5 cloves garlic (I always say, too much garlic is just enough garlic !!)
4 inches ginger (mas o menos) *
1 hot pepper (or to taste) *

In the blender she goes!


Flour Paste
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar or some sweetener substitute
2 tbsp flour
Annatto seeds* (the red rhambutan-looking thing)

Heat up the water and mix the flour and sugar in well. Let sit and cool. Once it has cooled, add it to the blender mix.


Starred ingredients (*) were harvested right off the farm at Finca Luna Nueva.

The pictures basically show how to do the rest. Interpret as you please!





The Art of Wild Fermentation

At Finca Luna Nueva, besides my main focus on Tea and Biodynamics, I’ve also had the chance to engage in other interesting activities like making chocolate from cacao, collecting butterflies, hiking to and swimming in volcanic craters, and effervescing like a mad man! Pictured below is a series of ferments myself and the other interns have been brewing. The sensations are wild and the flavours sensational.

Left to Right
Oolong, Puer, Ginger Brown Sugar, Oolong-Gaunabana

Fruit and Vegetable Kimchi! Both outstanding sensations and flavour profiles. Of course, we used some on-farm ingredients like guanabana, coconut, and culantro in the fruit kimchi, and ginger, turmeric, and pepper in the regular kimchi.

The great Guanabana Mead!!

Pickled baby ginger. The two on the outside are a natural pink as a result of quality baby ginger from our farm. The one in the middle is coloured with Annatto, also from the farm.

The Classic Kraut. Green and Purple Cabbage.

Effervescent party at Finca Luna! One day, with enough tea production, we’ll have a signature Biodynamic Black Tea Kombucha available!


Planting a Biodynamic Tea Garden


As an intern at Finca Luna Nueva, one of my projects is to install a new tea garden next to the yoga pavilion. The intention is many fold; we want to increase our tea production to run workshops and tours in the future and to sell tea at the gift shop here at Finca Luna Nueva; another intern is researching the certification and retail aspects of this future product; and we also want our guests attention, while practicing meditation or yoga in the pavilion, to be drawn along the flowing tea rows into the surrounding rainforest. Of course, we also want this garden to be practical and aesthetic, which is why the rows are planted on the contour for ease of harvest and maintenance.


This garden will also receive byodynamic compost preparations, and follow a sustainable harvesting and pruning routine following the biodynamic calendar. Each plant and row has been provided plenty of space for long-term development of roots and crowns, not the mention the zig-zag walkway installed to prevent erosion of the land. These tea babies have been seed propagated from a mother tree standing 40 feet tall, planted back in 99′, meaning they have genetic diversity and strong tap roots.
The bed has been officially installed as of yesterday (Sept 18th). It only took two days to plant 145 tea plants, and while some minor landscaping still needs to be done, the bed is in its nascent beginnings. Properly maintained and cared for, it should be harvestable in 3 – 5 years.


I’m actually already working on the next garden, which is quite different from the first one. No flowing contour rows this time, but I’ll save that for another blog update. I’m kept quite busy at la finca these days, trying to finish up the cob-oven project (which I’ll blog about in more detail later as well), designing and installing more tea beds, propagating tea, doing lots of Biodynamic research, tending to guests, making chocolate, hiking to volcano craters, and mapping out the logistics for my tea workshop in October, drawing tea pictures and writing agriculture poetry, among other enjoyable activities.


Pura Vida