It's so hard to believe it's been a year since I was at Tea Sage Hut in Miaoli, Taiwan. I think it's taken a year for me to unpack my experiences from the Taiwan trip (and I'm not done!). The official tea tour with Floating Leaves had come to a close. After saying our goodbyes, two tea-loving friends and I made our way by train to the Tea Sage Hut.
Miaoli is located in the area of Taiwan that grows my beloved Bai Hao oolong (Oriental Beauty). That tea was the first to open my mind to the exquisite nuances accessible in tea. I was excited to be here! My friend L had been living at the center as a student for several months. I remember hugging her for a really long time when she and the other center residents came out to greet us. When a friend lives far away, there is a special joy in reunion.
Once we had been settled, we were invited to a tea session in the gorgeous space above. We drank many rounds of raw (sheng) pu-erh. This tea was from Laos. It was organic, and from the same forest as Yunnan (humans making the dividing lines, not nature).
Tea Sage Hut offers tea and meditation instruction/experience, lodging, wonderful vegetarian meals, trips to nearby cities, and bowls and bowls of tea. One of my favorite things about my time there was the tea sessions held in silent contemplation.
Staying at the center is free. There are dorm-style sleeping quarters and meals are made communally. You are welcome to make a donation, with the idea of paying for future travelers, as others have already paid for you.
My experience of life at the center: The day starts with a meditation session about 7 am. Next, there is a healthy breakfast (we had oatmeal with cacao nibs and pumpkin seeds, and fruit). After that, there is often a tea session (this can last a good hour or two or more!). Daily tasks are attended to until the lunch time. Lunch is the largest meal of the day and is made with much festivity. After lunch, perhaps another tea session and other business. About 4 pm, the permanent residents head out to the English language school where they work. Dinner is light and there are often evening meditation and tea sessions. Sometimes, people take day trips to nearby towns or tea farms. We visited San Yi.