Category Archives: Tea Wisdom



One of the most important question in tea appreciation is :

What is our purpose of drinking tea?

Think about it carefully as the answer will shape our attitute and approach towards tea. It is a life long question and the answer will evolve from time to time but it will guide us from getting lost in the complex macrocosm world of tea.

  • Do we drink tea for meditative purpose?
  • Do we drink tea for health reason?
  • Do we drink tea for social status or trying to look cool and exotic?
  • Do we drink tea for artistic pursuit?
  • Do we drink tea solely for the pure enjoyment of the highest quality of tea?
  • Do we drink tea for cultural purpose?

~ The Chazhou peoples’ purpose is to seek the highest quality in tea. Their approach is simplistic on the teawares but highly intricate on their brewing skills to achieve the highest quality of the brew.

~ Some people just enjoy collecting and researching on teapots. Tea is just some drink that comes along while they are busy with the teapots. Tea is a by-product of teapots culture to them.

~ Some people drink tea to pursue tea and tea related knowledge.

~ Some people just like to enjoy the calming effect of the ritual of brewing tea. The atmosphere and environment is utmost important to them. Tea is just part of the element to enhance their mental state.

~ Some people treat tea like stock market, investing in any tea that they think will give a big margin of profits without any genuine interest in tea.

~ Some people drink tea for bragging rights.

~ Some people drink tea for health reason, they feel great and feel healthy after drinking tea, so the overall physical well being is important to them.

2002 Wild Spring Yiwu Brick Puer Tea
2002 Wild Spring Yiwu Brick Puer Tea

When I started drinking tea in the 1970s, it was an act of eventuality as the place I stayed was immersed with tea culture. Tea was served everywhere in lieu of water.  I just drank tea casually and follow the tide blindly, tasting tea without thinking, buying tea and teawares without reasoning.  It was just part of the culture that many drifted without any sense of purpose and direction.

I was lost in the complex world of tea and then, this question came about and charted the path to a clearer direction. It was then in early 1990s, with a sense of purpose, I extended my interest in tea seriously. My purpose changed and evolved over the period of time but always moving to a higher hierarchy.

My current purpose is to go back to the basics of tea.  It is a solitary quest to explore the tangibles and intangibles attributes of tea through a perpetual cycle of learning and de-learning process. Nothingness becomes everything and everything become nothing again and the cycle continues perpetually.

With this guided purpose, I began to enjoy the fundamentals of tea. The tangibles of tea skills and knowledge are keenly perused and instinctively refined. Invariably, the intangibles will reveal itself naturally and lead the path to nature, peace, harmony and tranquility.

2002 Wild Spring Yiwu Puer Tea
2002 Wild Spring Yiwu Puer Tea

Always drink tea with a good purpose, then only we can achieve peace, harmony and tranquility within ourselves.

Without purpose, we will be lost in the complex world of tea and might end up with a lot of confusion, yearning for the undesirables and accumulation of the unnecessaries beyond our comprehension. With a good purpose, we will chart the correct path and ultimately achieve enlightenment in tea.

So, what is your purpose of drinking tea?

Tea Day

Tea day

“There is no such thing as a bad tea day”

Once my tea master, Sifu, 師父, made this statement in response to my casual remarks of good and bad tea day. I thought it was a bit blunt but after I pondered for a while, I realised that it was a reality check for me. Oh yes! I was to be blamed for having a bad tea day because my tea brewing skill was not good enough.  Perhaps it was a subtle message to ask me to work harder and think harder. I worked hard, thought hard and kept this reality check in view and then I finally saw some light with lesser and lesser bad tea day.

Eventually, after many years, the notion of a bad tea day still haunts me but kept in abeyance unless I get sloppy with my brewing skill again.

Finally, my tea master concluded this notion for me by saying: Control your tea and don’t let your tea control you, then there is no such thing as a bad tea day.

Until today, every time when I brew tea, I hold this thought firmly in my mind. Of course, I was fortunate to go through with him for years on how to control tea.

Remember, control your tea and don’t let your tea control you then there is no such thing as a bad tea day. “



An ambivert is an intermediate character between an extrovert and an introvert.  It is an easy character to relate to, having the best of both worlds in different situations. Sometimes we need to be quiet and sometimes we need to be assertive. Tea behaves this way too. I often use the term “ambivert stage” to describe Sheng Puer tea that is in the transition phase of changing from the vibrant young to the mellowed aged tea. This is one of the most exciting stage in the aging of Puer tea.

I have been following the aging process of sheng Puer for many years.  It is the real joy in tea appreciation. Most of the time when a new tea is vigourously tested and approved to be in my good book, I would procure a dozen or two pieces of the tea. From the day of purchase, I will drink the tea often and experience its’ aging process. I often drink them leisurely but every quarterly, I would be more rigorous and thorough in the tasting process to enhance my understanding of the tea.

A Sheng Puer should be tasted frequently to experience its aging process. It is like growing and maturing with it. At every stage of its aging process, it will reveal new personality, talk to you differently and sometimes surprises you. Sometimes it makes you smile and sometimes it challenged you to accept its’ new character. The guessing game of what it would turn out be next, is equally exciting. Even iconic tea like Lao Banzhang is still in the questionable stage and there is not certainty that it will be a great tea until proven so in future. That is the joy and beauty of keeping and aging tea, which is to grow with it. There is no point buying a Puer tea and hoping to enjoy it many years later or bet that it will be great when it is old. Just like life, we must enjoy the journey, not the destination.

Da Xue Shan 2002
Da Xue Shan 2002

At ambivert stage, the Sheng Puer is usually around about 10 years of age plus minus one or two years. It is the period of when the tea is approaching maturity, but still have its youthful vigor.

I recalled a special tea, a 2002 wild spring Da Xue Shan, 大雪山野生荼, which make my life so wonderful for many months when it reached 10 years of storage. The tea was changing its character every few days. It is at the stage of mellowing down to a smooth aged tea while still revealing its vigor and youthful vitality. The dynamism and  constant struggle between being introvert and extrovert is really so exciting. The taste, the texture, the aroma, the body and whole language of that tea changes and evolve in every few days. It was really a wonderful experience beyond description.

Da Xue Shan 2002
Da Xue Shan 2002

Eventually after that ambivert stage, the tea will mellowed down to something more constant but the complexity,  Qi  and the spiritual growth of the tea will continue further for many years.

Enjoy your tea from day one and grow with it so that you will understand and appreciate it even more.  Just like our children, we don’t put them in childcare and collect them only when they grew up. Grow with them and have a wonderful life journey with them. Likewise for your tea.

Ambivert stage is the most exciting stage in aging Puer tea. It is the stage when the tea changes dynamically over a short period of a few months, erratically  revealing all its personality, potential, vigour and vibrancy.  It is the most exciting and joyous period of enjoying the tea beyond any description.

Don’t miss it.

Great tea

1970s CR Brick Sheng Puer tea.
1970s CR Brick Sheng Puer tea.

What is a great tea?  The tea culture has volumes of literature and rhetoric praises on it.  Auction houses capitalized on it.  Tea association celebrate it, some even with chanting and lion dances.  Books covered chapters and chapters on it.  Most of this great teas are seen in books, magazines and auctions without any clue of its taste. With all these noises, are those tea really great?

What is a great tea and how does it taste like?  I have tasted a lot of tea from the mediocre to the greatest, ancient to iconic, new and old. Personally to me, a great tea is a tea that taste just like tea. Huh? Taste just like tea? Yes, simply just that. Purely tea, just like gold, pure gold without any other metal. A tea that simply taste just like tea without anything else. Especially for Puer tea, no additional funny taste or smell, no weird factory storage aroma, no croakcoach smell, no lion dance, no drum hammering, no chanting and no cancer curing prophecy.

A  great tea is a tea that is delightful to the eyes, smooth and mellow in taste, with gentle uplifting aroma, recurring sweetness and a mouthful body that embraced all the good palate.  A tea that quietly embodies your sense of being, purify your mind and lift your spirit. A tea that is purely just tea; physically, mentally and spiritually. That is a great or perhaps the greatest tea. Just humbly that.

Some of the great or greatest tea may sit quietly in your collection waiting for you to listen to it. Cut out all the noises and listen carefully.


1993 Tong Xin Hao, Seven-Sons Yuen Nuen
1993 Tong Xin Hao, Seven-Sons Yuen Nuen

I have met up with many tea speculators and investors, from the very knowledgeable to those unwittingly gullible.
Some  of them are wise and careful. But many of them are oblivious and relied on market rumors, dubious speculations and whimsical advice from many sources that are out to capitalized on their ignorance. Profits are the ultimate goals in these ventures and most often that blinded their perception.
Eventually, the outcome of these tea ventures lies perhaps somewhere along the line of this thought:

“In future, when people look for their tea, it is a fortune. But when their tea need to look for people, then it is a misfortune.”

Acquring tea

Photo taken in Guilin while sipping a cup of tea.
Photo taken in Guilin while sipping a cup of tea.

“Tea should be acquired by evaluation and tasting and not by stories.

Likewise, a beautiful  landscape should be appreciated by seeing and not by hearing.”