Wu De welcomes guests to his table
I discovered Wu De – originally Aaron Fisher – when I read his book The Way of Tea: Reflections on a Life with Tea in 2010.  He was also the translator for numerous articles found in the beautiful Asian magazine Art of Tea, now out of print.

It was evident that we shared like-mindedness concerning the spirit of tea. It was both a beverage and lifestyle that changed our lives. Plus, I felt a connection because he grew up in Ohio, just a few hours north of my home in Kentucky. 

I remember thinking, “How did two mid-westerners become so immersed in the Asian tea culture?” 

It would be eight years before I found my way to Taiwan where we would share tea together for the first time.

After traveling throughout Asia, becoming a Zen monk, and taking on the Buddhist name Wu De, this true teaist settled in the town of Miaoli, south of Taipei, where he leads a non-profit meditation center called Global Tea Hut
Wu De and I have many common friends in the tea world – such as Norwood Pratt and Matthew London. And we were both nominated for the 2018 Best Publication Award at World Tea Expo – which he won last week in Las Vegas. Norwood Pratt accepted the award on his behalf. 

At the urging of Norwood, I took a break from my work in Shanghai last month to fly to Taipei where I spent a day at Global Tea Hut getting to know my fellow writer and brother in tea. Though we had never met in person, we were instantly friends. 

Wu De prepares for tea mediation at Global Tea Hut 

Sitting at his tea table fashioned from an ancient tree and surrounded by an incredible collection of Yixing teapots, antique tea jars, tea bowls, and tea wares, we enjoyed two 45-minute silent tea meditations. 

The second meditation included tea from a thousand-year-old tree served in thousand-year-old teacups. Because I was a musician for many years and his wife is a classical pianist, our session was accompanied by Dvorak’s New World Symphony, which ended on cue as we finished the last sip of our 11th steeping.

“At our center, don’t learn how to make tea, we learn how to serve tea.” Wu De

His “hut” is actually a two-story building with multiple tea stages, a kitchen, sleeping quarters for guests and a much-too-small office/recording studio. The compound was walled-off from the noise of the city and dotted with water features and plantings which made the urban setting feel more like an oasis from the hot and humid late spring Taiwan heat.
Bruce Richardson and Wu De at Global Tea Hut

“We have to find ways and means of connecting that don’t upset, exclude or isolate others—things we can all agree upon. Tea is an important part of us coming together. It is a medicine for this. If you put a Christian, Hindu and Buddhist in a room and they discuss their worldviews, they will argue. But if they go into that same room and drink tea, they come out brothers. I’ve seen it. The Chinese say, ‘Through tea make friends.'” – Wu De

Wu De and his staff of volunteers produce an amazing amount of tea education materials. Their monthly Global Tea Hut magazine is a treasure chest of information on Chinese and Taiwanese tea 

1000-year-old tea bowls.

production and Asian tea culture. I’ve placed several back issues on my web store so you may start your collection. 

Global Tea Hut hosts annual trips to tea producing areas of China such as Yunnan, Wuyi, Yixing, Anxi, and Anhui. 10-day immersions into tea and meditation are hosted at the Hut throughout the year. Wu De also lectures at retreats across the globe, including frequent appearances in the United States. 

And about that World Tea Expo award – I have no regrets losing to my tea brother.

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