My tea story begins when I was about 6 years old struggling with pneumonia and I said to my mom I can’t drink anything else than tea (probably some lipton bag tea with a lot of sugar of course). After that my understanding of tea was pretty average in the country of most coffee consumed per capita. I sometimes drank flavored teas from the supermarket and kinda enjoyed them.
The different jumps are not in chronological order and are all connected each other.
First jump: Czech Republic
My tea love story has a few huge jumps deeper to the rabbit hole. First of them was when I was working in an office job in Czech Republic. The job was very boring and after punching the keyboard mindlessly for 8 hours I often escaped to the basement teahouse of Chajovna Cajovna (http://www.chajovna.cz/, https://www.facebook.com/chajovnabrno/ ). After a few hours of drinking good tea in good company my mind and body were at ease and conversations went deeper than normally.
The new kind of high quality tea and the relaxing atmosphere made such a strong impression on me that after coming back to Finland in 2012 I started to find more teas. After tasting a proper (probably wouldn’t be so exciting these days) shou puer first time I got hooked immediately! I was like WOW what is this stuff!?
Second jump: Finnish tea community
By 2013 I had gotten to know some really nice and hardcore tea people in Finland. We started a student association with the agenda of spreading quality tea drinking further in Finland. We organized many different kinds of tea events and it was pretty nice. Fast forward a few years and in 2015 me and a few tea friends started Suvanne – a project for sharing tea more focused on the meditative aspects of tea. We did tea ceremonies in festivals, companies, people’s homes, in the forest and parks and so on. It was an exciting time exploring a lot of unknown territory for me. Suddenly I was this “tea master” or some sort of performer meant to deliver some sort of bliss experiences for the people. There was a lot of learning. In many ceremonies I was worrying a lot and i’m still doing it. What is that person feeling? Is she bored, does she have pain or is she enjoying it? I started to learn that I just need to accept how is the situation in reality in the ceremony (not in my fears) and adjust if needed.
I went for travels in 2015, 2016 and 2017 to China, Thailand, Laos, Taiwan, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. I visited tea wholesalers, tea farms, I went to tea sage hut twice for a week at a time, did a 10 day Goenka’s Vipassana meditation retreat and met amazing tea masters.
The trip in 2016 to Malaysia was especially rough and teaching. One day while drinking really nice liu bao with a friend a very ordinary looking guy (I will call him Mr. X in this text, not Ricky on the photo) joins us for tea. My friend told this is her tea master. The guy jokingly answered “oh no, she is my tea master!” and it was quite funny. We got offered to go his house tomorrow for learning some gong-fu tea… Next day my then-girlfriend Bea was brewing tea and then I was brewing tea. After we asked how was the tea. Mr. X was very excited of Bea’s tea. “it’s like morning dew on top of the leaves” and so on. I asked about mine and got a short reply “you have a good heart”. I was left confused why he didn’t say more about my superb tea skills!? He should have praised me from the earth to the heavens, I thought. After all I had learned the great gongfu tea art in perfect form alone in Finland without a teacher in a few years. That was my crooked thought anyways… After me asking a few times and getting a short and not very descriptive answer back he thought I guess I really want to know.
So he started to tell me all of my problems in great detail. It hurt a lot to hear all of my self centered thinking patterns and stupid behavior put plainly in front straight to my face. And the guy just met me! All the stuff he told precisely accurate so I couldn’t just disregard it. I was crushed completely mentally. I felt I possibly can’t brew good tea. And it was right since my self centered thinking was getting in the way of the tea coming out good from the brewing. I had learned a specific way of making and drinking tea from global tea hut magazines and seen some gth people brew tea. I thought how I make tea is the best because this is how they do it and they are the best I knew. I was thinking way too self centered about it. When drinking tea brewed by others I almost every time thought “hah look at him doing this and that wrong”. Surprise surprise, I couldn’t learn gong-fu from a magazine or youtube videos, just like you can’t learn to dance salsa from a magazine. If you want to go deeper you need a teacher to instruct you person to person.
So the main lesson here was that I had acquired a very self-centered attitude towards brewing tea. I thought and felt my tea is perfect and others’s is bad. The fact that a stranger could just lay out all of my problems just after meeting me was crushing but effective…
So the next year was a time of rebuilding my attitude. Learning how to be more open minded. After a year when I went back I had achieved good progress and Mr X was happy about it.
Tea & meditation
Before 2014 I had tried some guided mindfulness meditations with a small group now and then but didn’t have a regular meditation practice going. Usually after meditating with this group for 30-45 minutes with breaks my brain felt fried and super tired. I had heard about global tea hut in 2014 and when my dear friend and tea brother Ville Sorsa went to tea sage hut for 8 weeks at the same time I gave bowl tea a change… It was summer and our balcony is facing a small forest with birch trees. I started every morning for a week by grabbing a rice bowl (good old “rymykulho”), En Shi green tea from Teemaa and my “good old” plastic water boiler. I sat on the balcony sipping the fresh green tea leaves in a bowl style. At that time my tea brewing was quite “wrong-fu” with glass gong-fu ware and funny brewing methods. I liked the taste of pu’er, the social aspects of drinking tea with friends but I never experienced anything “deep” with tea.
I had never tried brewing tea like this. I lacked the foundation in tea brewing so I was just doing stuff randomly without knowing what i’m doing really. I also drank non-clean tea most of the time.
Suddenly I found myself meditating when brewing this tea extremely simply every day. This sort of morning wellness ritual didn’t need a huge effort that I had previously when trying meditation. The action of brewing and drinking the tea was bringing me to a more meditative state and also after the actual drinking I just stayed sitting there and did mindfulness meditation. I have done that since then daily.
Tea meditation has given me so much: Peace in emotional turmoil sense of clarity when lost, saying to me i’m good enough as I am, pushing me gently forward with my challenges and connecting me with people.
Often after a nice tea session my friends asked where to get good organic tea. I usually recommended one or two teas from a local tea shops but those shops didn’t have good enough pu’er. For pu’er and liubao I recommended my trusted sources but most often my friends didn’t order any tea from there since it seems hard if you never did it. So then I started to order some extra tea for friends.
I have been selling tea to my friends since 2015. It has been evolving a little bit all the time. 2016 I started an official company to do that with which was a good learning experience.
My tea selling journey also had some challenging moments. Being okay to take profit from friends was hard. Then when traveling in Asia I started to look all the teas first with an idea that wow that’s cheap and how much profit I could take and to whom could I sell it to. So I also had to get rid of this too narrow focus on tea and seeing it again more like a tool for holistic health.
I still continue finding good sources for tea and developing the sensitivity for clean medicinal teas. I am still amazed how many teas available don’t meet my expectations even though they are described as organic. The taste is often pretty good but they give me a very strange uncomfortable feeling.
For many years Tea has been pushing me to share the healing potential of her. I have tried a few things but they didn’t carry so long. Last four years most of my life energy went to road construction and surviving from it. Now I start having a more balanced life with less extreme work and more tea.
I have a very nice feeling about Liquid Metta. It finally feels I can do 100% what I want to do with tea and I don’t need to do compromises. It’s an important mission and it has potential to keep my life running financially. Otherwise I would have to go do road construction which would strain me too much and would hinder the progress of tea things.
I see there is a big community out there but it’s very scattered. My goal essentially is to bring the community more together rather than just selling tea. I’ve been thinking about doing a video blog, regular skype gatherings, videos, podcast of different tea people and sellers etc. What would be most interesting for you? If you have any ideas or would like to participate in writing, photos, videos etc. please drop me a message 🙂
Thanks for reading 🙂