At Mountain Gate, we relate to tea as a way of life. The craft, art, and meditation of tea celebrate our relationship to the natural world. By studying the Way of Tea, we learn principles from nature that allow for greater connection to our inner lives and to the world around us. Over the past ten years, we’ve travelled throughout Asia to carefully select the finest “Living Teas.” We seek leaves with the following qualities, which serve as criteria for our curation: seed-grown, agrochemical-free, biodiverse environments, fair-trade, and with a healthy reverent relationship to all aspects of tea production. Finally, our passion for old-growth and aged tea inspires our continual exploration, including the creation of Mountain Gate in July of 2020.
The name of each Living Tea speaks to an inherent quality in those particular leaves: the mountain of origin, terroir, flavor, aroma, or impression. Each tea has a story and every cup represents an imaginary voyage. We hope you find the same love for the Leaf that has inspired our adventures, and misadventures, through the misty tea mountains. Thank you for stepping through the Mountain Gate.
Tea As A Way Of Life
By observing the climactic, environmental, and natural changes around us, we recognize the impermanence of all phenomena, including our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. We rest in change and find beauty in the ephemeral. These qualities inform the aesthetic of the tea ceremony, wherein we bring elements of nature to the tea space. As plant medicine, Taoist herbalists hail Tea as a spirit or Shen tonic for its ability to clear the mind, open the heart, settle the soul, and illuminate one’s essence. Zen masters and spiritual aspirants use tea to maintain a state of calm alertness during long hours of meditation. Health enthusiasts exalt tea as a powerful antioxidant, detoxifier, digestant, and gentle stimulant. All of these profound properties find their fullest expression through traditional tea ceremony. Within any tea ceremony, whether comprised of simple leaves in a bowl or antique tea-ware and formal practice, we find a space to commune with ourselves, one another, and nature. Within this space of presence, the lines between the three become hazy and we return to the simple joy of living.
Just as tea has emerged in many forms through myriad facets of human life, so too has it attracted a diverse cast of characters whose love of the leaf borders on obsession. In the words of one such character -- art curator and surreptitiously famous author of the classic Book of Tea, Okakura Kakuzo -- “tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage.” This mysterious leaf has travelled a long and vast road through history; a path filled with adventure, intrigue, thievery, warfare, social revolution, caravans and cavalcades, currency and embargoes, fortunes gained and lost, friends and enemies, artistic expression, philosophical explorations, and at its misty-peaked heights, spiritual enlightenment.
While in the Western world we relate to tea as a casual beverage, China and Japan have long held traditions that reverentially regard Camellia sinensis in a different light. Pin Ming Lun Dao is a commonly used Chinese phrase, which means to discuss and understand Dao through the taste of tea. For thousands of years in China, all great discussions of the Tao, or the deeper questions of life, have taken place at the tea table.
The tea ceremony has long been regarded in Asia as a means of connecting with the essential in Life and Nature, with symbolic images and punctuations in the ceremony drawing the participants into a primordial space of connection to one another and the plant world. And while the history and lore of Tea paints a rich picture of what it means to live a Life of Tea -- one with clear principles, practices, methodologies, and traditions -- one can still deeply engage the Leaf without these superfluous details. Inherent in the Leaf is a reminder of the intertwining relationship between meditation, tea, and enlightenment -- Tea cannot be described in words, but only tasted directly right here and now.