Snow and I have recently moved back to Chiang Mai in Thailand and are settling into a cozy house we’re renting in the heart of the city. A lot of other things have happened too, including global convulsions, but that need not concern us here. What counts is we’re back at work with our health and healing programs, some new writing projects, and both the art and the business of High Mountain Oolong Tea.
First of all, we want to wish you all good fortune, good health and abundant happiness in the Year of the Fire Rooster, which dawned with a cackling “cockadoodle-doo” on January 28 this year. Those of you who follow Chinese astrology and have someone qualified to provide you with personal guidance in this matter would be well advised to find out what your personal astral configuration indicates for you this year. The Fire Rooster will do a lot of squawking this year and kick up a lot of dust, and how it affects you depends largely on your own astral indicators. For some, such as Snakes, Rats, and Oxen, the Rooster will provide some great opportunities, but you need to be alert and take timely action to benefit. For others and for the world at large, the Rooster will produce some serious challenges that can lead to hardship if not dealt with properly. And everyone should take care when traveling this year, especially driving in traffic. Drink plenty of your favorite High Mountain Oolong Tea to guard your health and sharpen your wits for the challenges ahead.
So, let’s get started!
Our Tea Passes the German Lab Test
Last year one of our tea people took one of our teas to a lab in Germany to have it tested for purity and find out if it would pass the stringent standards for organic production in Europe. Our tea passed the test with flying colors, which means it qualifies for organic status in Germany and other European countries, even though it does not carry a certificate of organic production from either the USDA or the EU.
Most of our teas are like that, & we go to a lot of trouble to make sure they are free of chemical contaminants. Only the Lin Plantation has been certified by the USDA for organic production, and it cost them a fortune and many years to obtain the certificate, driving up the cost of their tea. The other plantations we buy from, such as Cedar Lake, Three Plums, and Pine Stream Grove, don’t bother to apply for the USDA or EU certifications because it cost so much that it might double the price of their teas. They take great care to grow and process their teas without exposure to any toxic chemicals, and tea people in Taiwan who drink their teas know this, as do our tea people, so these family-run plantations don’t need international certificates. They usually sell every leaf they grow.
So please rest assured that the tea in your pot, if it comes from us, will do you no harm and only benefit your health.
The “Smoker’s Tea”
In previous issues of Tea Tidings
as well as my book The Art & Alchemy of Chinese Tea
, I mention the clinical studies in Japan which showed that High Mountain Oolong Tea from Taiwan cleanses the lungs of accumulations of tar and toxic residues from smoking as well as air pollution and other sources. It does this job by virtue of the high concentration of volatile aromatics produced in oolong tea by the unique semi-oxidation method used in its production.
Volatile aromatics are the factors which produce the distinctive floral fragrance and flavor in the best High Mountain Tea varietals on our menu, and they have potent therapeutic properties. As gases suspended in the fluid of the tea, they are expelled from the bloodstream along with carbon dioxide and other gases through the lungs. As these volatile aromatics pass through the delicate lining of the lungs, they drive out sticky tars, particles of air pollutants, and toxic chemicals that accumulate in the alveoli, allowing the lungs to bind these toxic wastes in balls of mucus and expel them from the lungs as wads of phlegm that are periodically coughed up through the bronchial passage.
No doubt some of our tea people smoke tobacco, so they probably drink High Mountain Oolong Tea not only for its wonderful taste, but also to help protect their lungs from damage from smoking. What smokers of tobacco may not realize, however, is that the reason they smoke is primarily therapeutic, not recreational. Smoking tobacco is a form of self-medication to correct disorders of the nervous system and to rebalance imbalances in neurochemistry that are the root cause of conditions such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other mental malaise. People who smoke tobacco habitually do so to correct these disorders rather than resorting to the noxious pharmaceutical drugs prescribed today for these conditions, drugs that are not nearly as effective as tobacco and have serious negative side effects.
I discovered this natural remedy myself after radical surgery and a near cardiac arrest in hospital in 2011 scrambled my brain chemistry and left me with symptoms that included depression and insomnia, as well as cognitive impairment. My doctors all tried to persuade me to start taking pharma drugs to deal with these conditions, but I categorically reject pharma drugs as a solution for any chronic condition, particularly those related to brain chemistry. So I did some research myself and came across two sources that suggested tobacco as the best remedy. One was the work of the famous clairvoyant healer Edgar Cayce, who diagnosed and recommended remedies for thousands of clients in America in the 1940s and 1950s, almost all of them with successful results. For clients who came to him for advice on how to deal with disorders of the nervous system such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia, he often recommended smoking tobacco, even in older clients who had never smoked a cigarette in their entire lives.
This was before the American and British tobacco cartels started adding toxic chemicals to the tobacco and paper they used to manufacture cigarettes, including certified carcinogens, so in Cayce’s time, factory-made cigarettes were still safe to smoke. Cayce’s guideline was stringent: he told his clients to smoke no less than 3 and no more than 8 cigarettes per day in order to correct the imbalances in their brain chemistry that caused their symptoms. No one needs more than 8 cigarettes a day to gain the therapeutic benefits of tobacco, and if you only smoke 3-8 a day, you are not going to get serious lung disease, but only if you smoke cigarettes made with chemical free tobacco and paper.
To give you an idea of how dangerous the chemical additives used today by cigarette companies are, I’ll cite three examples. First, to facilitate the passage of nicotine across the blood-brain barrier, they add an ammonia compound to increase the amount of nicotine that enters the brain, thereby increasing not only the smoker’s satisfaction but also his addiction, which in turn sells more cigarettes. With every puff you take from most popular cigarettes today, you get a shot of ammonia in your lungs and bloodstream, and you can imagine what that does to your health.
Second, to make a cigarette keep burning even if the smoker has only taken one puff then leaves it in an ashtray or in his fingers while talking on the phone or doing something else, they add the same chemical to the paper that’s used in the fuse of firecrackers and dynamite to make them fizzle and burn until they explode. So when you smoke those cigarettes, you’re lighting a fuse in your body that will eventually explode in severe respiratory disease.
Third, tobacco growers in America use a phosphate fertilizer that contains radioactive elements, presumably to increase production. This dangerous practice deposits polonium and lead in the tobacco, and when you smoke cigarettes made with that tobacco you get radioactive isotopes trapped in your lungs.
Tobacco smokers beware: be sure to smoke only chemical-free tobacco and roll it yourself in chemical-free paper. That way you’ll gain the health benefits of tobacco without paying the price of lung disease caused by smoking cigarettes made with chemically contaminated tobacco. I got mine directly from tobacco plantations in the highlands of far western Yunnan, near Dali, in sheaves of uncut whole leaves (similar to the picture above-right) that are naturally wind-cured in open sheds the traditional way, and Snow kindly cut it for me with scissors. It’s a blond “Virginia” type of tobacco that’s produces a very smooth aromatic smoke.
My other source is Bali, where an old man in one of the weekly street markets sells an equally good blond tobacco that’s organically grown in Java and seasoned for two years before sale. For papers I use only pure chemical-free rolling paper from France made with rice or hemp fiber, such as Zig-Zag, Smoking, and OCB brands.
The reason I’m writing so much about this topic in Tea Tidings is because now there is conclusive scientific evidence to prove that tobacco has some remarkable therapeutic benefits, particularly as a remedy for disorders of the nervous system, which affect tens of millions of people throughout the world today. And that is the real reason why smokers smoke. A recent study shows that tobacco is an effective remedy for schizophrenia, one of the most intractable and serious disorders of the nervous system. You’ll find the results of that study here: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-01-nicotine-brain-deficits-key-schizophrenia.html
My other source of information on tobacco’s medicinal properties is a book by my favorite maverick doctor of western medicine, Dr. William Campbell Douglass II, who wrote "The Health Benefits of Tobacco" (available at Amazon)
to clarify the contentious issue of tobacco and its effects on the human body. He provides conclusive evidence showing that smoking tobacco is an effective remedy for a wide range of chronic as well as some acute conditions. Like Cayce, he recommends only moderate use of tobacco to gain its health benefits without the risk of doing damage to the body, and he strongly emphasizes the importance of using only chemical-free tobacco, not the tobacco with added carcinogens used by the commercial tobacco industry. The bottom line is that pure tobacco to which no chemicals have been added doesn’t cause cancer or any other disease when used moderately. What makes the cigarettes you buy in shops today cause cancer is the cancer-causing chemicals the manufacturers add. It’s not the tobacco itself. This seems obvious enough, but most smokers remain unaware of the problem.
All of the information above connects with High Mountain Oolong Tea because in addition to its many other health benefits, this tea helps eliminate residues left in the lungs by smoking. So if you’re a tea drinker who smokes, you’re well advised to drink High Mountain Oolong in order to gain this benefit. And if you’re a smoker who does not drink tea, you’d be equally well advised to add at least one round of daily High Mountain Oolong to your diet to help protect your lungs.
Tea and Tea Ware as Conductors of Energy
In the chapter on Tea Alchemy in my tea book
, I describe how tea masters who have also attained high degrees of competence in energy work can transmit positive psychic energy to those for whom they prepare tea through the vehicle of the tea and tea ware, using intent to guide the process. That’s why having tea with the master has always been a highly valued experience for monks and adepts of chi gung and martial arts in Asia, and why the tea table is often the arena for transmission of the highest teachings in monasteries.
This is seen as a normal phenomenon in Asian tradition, but people in the modern western world are often skeptical of its validity. In a recent study on “Metaphysics of the Tea Ceremony,” a randomized trial was conducted on the link between intention, belief, and mood in the art of preparing tea, and the results clearly showed a direct connection between the intent of the person preparing the tea and the mood of the persons drinking it. We’ve posted this study on our website, and you’ll find it here.
The Importance of Water
We’ve mentioned several times the vital importance the quality of the water you use to prepare tea in the final result in your cup. This is not so important if you’re using ordinary tea bought in supermarkets to make tea then add milk, sugar, lemon, spices, or rancid yak butter to it. But when preparing top grade High Mountain Oolongs the traditional Chinese way, the quality of the water is at least as important as the tea leaves. 99.99% of the fluid in your teacup is water, so if it’s not pure, balanced, well structured water, you won’t get the best of the subtle tastes and aromatic tones locked inside the leaf. When you’re spending money to buy the best grade High Mountain Oolongs from our menu, you should pay close attention to the water you use to make it.
One solution is to buy bottled water, but these days most bottled water comes in plastic bottles, which can affect the taste of the water. If the water you use is distilled or purified by reverse osmosis, it will be completely devoid of minerals and trace elements, leaving it “flat” and deficient in energetic factors. Ordinary filters used to purify tap water these days don’t usually do a complete job eliminating all the chemical additives and pollutants in municipal water supplies, and they do nothing to balance the pH and restructure the water.
The best source of water is a clear mountain spring, but unless you live in the high mountains in a region far removed from industrial pollution you’re not going to get that. So what’s the solution to this most serious of problems for the devotee of the Art of Tea? The solution we’ve found is a new type of filter device developed in recent years by our old friend Ian Hamilton in Australia. Founder of Alkaway, Ian has been researching water purification issues for over 20 years, and he’s finally come up with his masterpiece--the “Ultrastream.” This is what we use in Australia, and we’re also using one here in Chiang Mai to purify ordinary municipal tap water. The water that comes out of the spout tastes better, hydrates better, feels better in the mouth, and makes much better tea than any bottled water available in Thailand.
The Ultrastream is a lot more than just a filter. In addition to removing all chemicals, particles, odors, and other unwanted factors from water, the Ultrastream greatly increases the hydrogen content in water, enriches it with calcium and magnesium in proper proportion, balances the water’s pH to around 8.5, which is perfect for making tea, and microstructures the water to make it “softer” and “wetter” so that your tea glides across your tongue like a cloud of silk, soothes your throat on the way down, is swiftly absorbed in your stomach and duodenum and passes smoothly from the bloodstream into your tissues. The bottom line here is this: the Ultrastream makes the best water we’ve found for preparing High Mountain Oolong Tea, short of preparing tea beside a high mountain spring.
If you’re interested to find out more about this excellent way to purify, alkalize, ionize, hydrogenate, mineralize, and microstructure the water you use to drink and to prepare your tea, you’ll find more info on this website: alkaway.com.au
It’s not expensive in light of what it does for your water, and Alkaway ships worldwide.
Tell them Daniel & Snow sent you!
Feature Menu Item: GABA Tea
One of our most popular teas, and one that more and more people are ordering, is our GABA High Mountain Oolong Tea
. For detailed information on what makes GABA so special and why people like to drink it, you can download this brief fact sheet I composed years ago.
The GABA Tea on our menu is sold in sachets that can be steeped in a lidded cup or in a teapot, but many of our GABA devotees have been asking for a loose-leaf variety that they may prepare in their favorite pots the same way as other fine oolongs, and we are now adding this loose-leaf form to our menu. This way you can prepare your GABA as strong or light as you wish, using your favorite small pot for you alone or a bigger pot when making it for a group of friends, and portion it out as you please.
One reason that so many people prefer GABA Tea is because in addition to its great taste and organic purity, it also relaxes the entire nervous system and is a great antidote for stress. And you can drink it at night after dinner without losing any sleep later because its high GABA content promotes sound sleep.
Try it, you’ll love it!
Years ago, Snow’s sister Sophie gave me a tea pot that’s become one of my favorites, and I often take it along with me as my travel tea pot when traveling. The lid is inscribed with the Eight Trigrams: Heaven, Earth, Fire, Water, Mountain, Lake, Wind, & Thunder. The little round knob on top of the lid has the Yin/Yang symbol engraved on it, and one of the dots is hollow to allow air into the pot so the tea will pour properly. When the open dot is turned to the Water trigram on the lid, the pot will freely pour the tea, but when it’s turned to any of the other trigrams, nothing pours from the pot.
The top of the tea pot is inscribed with a tea couplet in beautiful Chinese calligraphy which says:
It rhymes in Chinese, but in English the closest I can come to a poetic rendition is this: