Posts Tagged ‘Cloudwater’

Reflecting on 4 months on Hawaii

It surely is time for a new post! It’s been a busy last month in Hawaii wrapping up projects around the farm, harvesting tea, and packing for home! So here is a brief reflecting on my last four months.

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I’m actually back in Vernon for the time being catching up with friends and family before going off on my next tea excursion. This time, to the far away lands of Asia and into the rural mountainsides for some much larger-scale tea farming and processing.

TLC

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Cloudwater Tea Farm: The Bleat of a Goat

In this blog, I will attempt a writing style clear and flowing without adjectives, with the intention that the written structure should reflect the content, say of a sea-turtle ebbing into your vision and flowing back out.

I’m trying to tell you, like the bleat of a goat, if this were the content, then the structure too should call for attention. Because I’m hungry. Because I see you. Because I’m bored. But I can’t just say ba’a’a. It’s not about telling; it’s about showing.

If the content is short and terse – so is the sentence.

I was recently at Anini beach, camping out for a couple of nights, snorkeling in the ocean, taking a vacation from my vacation in a manner of speaking which gave me time to do the things you actually imagine doing on vacation – nothing – but of course I did some things like swim with sea turtles through coral channels and talk with beach-folk and lie on my back on the sand watching for – and if I can’t use adjectives to describe the suddenness or length of an observed shooting star interrupting my wandering thoughts for a moments’ silence…. then maybe the chosen written style can somehow pull that off…. Upon reflection, I guess the point is to impart that effect without having to explain it along the way.

It’s a work in progress.

In other news, I’ve been doing a lot of updating on Cloudwaters’ website with pictures and flavour profiles, adding new links here, new pages there.  It’s still under construction mind you.  I’m no website designer – and I’m not writing code – but with access to google analytics and simple website editing tools one can do a lot with respect to updates, and optimizing and increasing traffic flow.

I have access to an SLR camera, but it would be nice to understand lighting a little better and to have a background in photoshop.

In any case, as much time as it takes, it’s really quite fun and there will be some really interesting updates on the website within the week, from recipes to videos to a brand new tea (that I may or may not have processed)

One new feature in particular is going to set this tea farm and website apart from all others. I’ve never seen anything like what Cloudwater will soon have to offer – anywhere else.

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What do YOU really want, and what really matters?

TLC

Cloudwater Tea: Bea on the Train

I processed tea ALL day today – what a Joy.

THIS is what my brain looks like now,

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the most BEAUTIFUL images to me…

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What do you really want, and what really matters?

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TLC

Cloudwater Tea: Dreaming Leaf

 

What do you really want, and what really matters?

TLC

Cloudwater Tea: Week 1

At Cloudwater Tea Farm, there are two varieties of Camellia Sinensis; var. assamica and var. sinensis, both of which sprout tea leaves in this tropical landscape that upon flushing require, with a mind clear of internal dialogue, hand plucking. My inceptive tea harvest fell upon the assamica variety, a larger leaf tea bush that has exhibited quality black tea, and so, the first tea that I created would be a hand-picked and processed Hawaiian black tea – var. assamica. After plucking leaves in the categories of one, two, and three leaves with one bud, these leaves, destined to become Hawaiian black tea, withered in the humid tropical climate for some number of hours and offered a change in aroma from crisp fresh apples to not-quite-ripe, sweet bananas.

This brings me to an interesting point regarding tea (and wine): that being terroir – a term (vaguely) describing the make-up of a natural environment in terms of climate, soil, topography, region, and year, among many other changing factors.  This term has always alluded me as it is so commonly thrown around in books and discussions on tea. Only now, upon experiencing terroir first hand in Hawaii do I understand its role and impact on flavor profile and aroma. There is a distinct and consistent smell and taste to the tea here at Cloudwater and that distinction comes from the volcanic Hawaiian soil, the frequent bursts of rain and humid sunshine, the elevation above sea level, and the personal processing method of the farmer. Paradoxically, This is why one tea can never be reproduced again; the terroir (the natural regional environment) is in a constantly changing flux, and thus the nature of the tea is likewise always changing – never the same – which yields to the Japanese saying, ichi-go-ichi-e, “one time, one meeting.” And yet, the tea maintains to some degree, a consistent and distinct Hawaiian flavour profile, because while the terroir may be constantly changing, from harvest to harvest, flush to flush, its changing nature too is held subject to the very bounds of nature. It thus becomes a loose interplay between the nexus of change within boundedness.

In picking and processing my first tea, noting the changing aroma, and finally tasting the finished product, one learns more about terroir, but it is also just as important to experience what the tea experiences, from the same soil in your hands, to rain on your face, and the sun on your skin (ideally over a great length of time) – then, one gains an experiential understanding of what terrior really means.

Tea isn’t just about tea; it’s about labour on a farm, picking up deadened lauhala leaves, experiencing the same forces of nature that the Tea is faced with; it’s about aligning yourself on a parallel path to that of natural flow and becoming a medium through which tea (or any art for that matter) can express itself.

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Ok, not ganna lie, I had a big list of events to blog about from my first week here at Cloudwater Tea Farm, but that last segment on terroir ate up way too much time. In summary, besides harvesting and processing tea, I also helped in the major process of building a 200 x 100 foot fence for a goat pasture, digging and filling 30+ trenches for more tea and some pineapples, and I’m reading this great book called Wabi Sabi The Japanese Art of Impermanence which is just outstanding; I already want to read it again before having finished it. I also fed the chickens today… They’re hilarious; I’ll have to save an entire blog entry for mowing the lawn alongside chickens.

All of this has been greatly influenced by my two new mentors, Michelle and Parker, the wonderful farmers here at Cloudwater.

If you’re wondering, I am drinking heaping amounts of tea every day, which is awesome.

ps: sorry for no pictures again; still waiting on my cable in the mail. I’ve taken some GREAT ones though!

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What do you really want, and what really matters?

TLC

Serial Vagabonding: Tea in the Flush

I was already hugging them – and receiving a floral garland – before any verbal introduction had even taken place. Michelle and Parker, the two farm owners, picked me up at Lihue (“lee who eh”) airport, Hawaii, where I was to be taken to their farm: Cloudwater. Their Tea Farm is located on the northern coast of the Kauai, the garden Isle of Hawaii.

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In my attempts to find work on a tea farm, Asia proved to be a challenge due to language barriers in the rural mountain sides and lack of personal connections in those areas. I recalled that Hawaii had recently established itself as a new tea growing estate, and soon after, found myself wireless connected to Michelle at Cloudwater Tea Farm. Offering my profile as a young willing tea enthusiast, I was met with mutual enthusiasm from the owners at Cloudwater; so here I am today, living, loving, working, and learning – hands on – about agriculture and Tea in the paradise that is Kauai. As my friend back home put it, I’m Loving Life and Living Love.

And why have I chosen a tea farm, in particular? Noticing the ever-growing popularity of tea in the West, and considering my own underlying love of Tea as a material, artistic, and aesthetic beverage – but more importantly as a spiritual shadow in my own life – I wanted first to go back to the roots of tea – meaning the farm – before pursuing a vocation in tea, not at all suggesting the two can’t be one and the same.

Now, very unfortunately, I can’t upload any pictures as of yet because my connecting cable (from camera to computer) is currently in the mail ;) Fearing that readers may not believe my grandiose claims about this farm, I will summarize my experience as creatively, but simplistically as possible.

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Arriving on the farm would be – and was – the first time I laid eyes on the very plant that had driven me (or flown rather) to the middle of the gaping pacific ocean. Ms. Camellia Synensis; there she was, growing in north facing columns parallel to the architectural wonder that is Parkers’ farm house – of course, I refer to the tea bush growing on Cloudwater Farm. This was the first time my human senses would perceive Tea in the flush.

Housed in a beautiful two-story guest house, onlooking verdant mountain crags and a stream that surrounds the farm, I settle in and take a peaceful tour. The farm is located at the base of these mountain ranges, which have a curtain-like draping effect of vibrant mossy jungle. The steam surrounding the farm is right out of a zen book on poetry; the birds sing “every little thing is ganna be alright”; the tropical trees and bamboo breeze in the wind; and lo, the sun is out – the sky is blue.

“Is this real?”, I can’t stop thinking to myself.

So lucky am I, not only to be among (very) good company in Kauai, but to be in the presence of Tea among it all.

I begin my first day joyfully picking up deadened lauhala leaves, followed by staking out grids for new tea beds, and then cutting the lawn after lunch. As in a Zen monastery, where one might expect to learn about Zen but instead winds of raking gravel and scrubbing wooden decks, one too must experience labour on the tea farm, only to realize that when those expectations are dropped, mindfully raking gravel is Zen, and picking up deadened lauhala leaves is Tea.

Did I mention I have an outdoor shower within a bamboo grove? It’s pretty luxurious, and tending the wide range of bamboo varieties grown on the farm is too. Not to mention the goats are a gas, and the myriad chickens running free range keep you company all day.

Parker and I ended our day with a drive to Kalihiwai bay for a dip in the waving ocean, while Michelle prepared dinner in the farmhouse kitchen. Such can be life at Cloudwater Tea.

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Without pictures of my own, I lend you this website with a sample slide show, and the actual Cloudwater Tea website (same as the link at the top of this entry) which also hosts a nice gallery.

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What do you really want, and what really matters?

 

TLC