Tea performing arts, tea terminology and translation, promote tea studies and innovations. *Contact ,icetea8@gmail.com, Trad. and Simp. Chinese used. Blog since 6/23/2005
Name: Steven R. Jones; Link: http://teaarts.blogspot.com/
名字:瓊斯史迪芬Steven R. Jones, 網址: http://teaarts.blogspot.com/


Since 1980

Lu-Yu Tea Culture Institute

Before heading to Taiwan, I had contacted Steven R. Jones (瓊斯史迪芬), who writes online as Sherdwen. Steven is a Tea Master at the Lu Yu Tea Culture Institute (tel 02.2331.6636, ext 9). Steven, an affable American expat, has embraced Asian tea culture with an enthusiasm that I surmise he invests in all his projects. When I let him know that I would be in Taiwan, and was interested in learning more about the work of the Institute, he issued me a very warm welcome and arranged to show me about the place. I took a taxi one afternoon, when I had a three-hour chink in my long daily schedule, to the address Steven had given me (3F, no. 64, Heng-Yang Road), and -- to my surprise -- found myself at the doors of Ten Ren. Imagine a department store five stories high, all devoted to tea, tea-ware, and tea culture in general: this is the Taipei Ten Ren. The first floor is Ten Ren proper; the second floor houses 'Cha for Tea,' intended to provide a livelier, hipper 'tea bar' atmosphere (targeting a younger market?). The third floor is for the Lu-Yu Institute. The fourth floor houses the Ten Ren Teaism Foundation and some offices (on which see below). On the fifth floor is a large meeting-hall for conferences, performances, and stockholder meetings.

Of course I didn't know any of that when I first arrived. The personnel on the ground floor sent me to the third floor, via elevator. Here I found the capacious quarters of the Lu-Yu Tea Culture Institute (陸羽茶藝中心).

The Institute was founded in 1980 in Taipei, with an emphasis on education in various aspects of cha dao, not excluding innovation in the design and production of tea-ware. As well as in Taiwan, it has established branches on the mainland of China -- in Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu -- and plans are also being laid to open a branch in or near Los Angeles, California.

The day on which I arrived was a special one for the Institute, in that examinations were being administered -- the 陸羽泡茶師檢定辦法 (Lu-Yu Tea Master examination). The examination is quite rigorous; it includes both a skills test and a written test. In the written portion, for which a grade of 70% or better is considered passing, one must demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of teas, tea-ware, and tea lore. In the skills test, which has a nerve-wracking twelve parts, one must demonstrate to the examination board one's ability to brew a variety of teas, in small and large quantity; to identify 'made' teas by color, aroma, and flavor; and to use various kinds of tea-ware as supplied by the examiners. Upon successful completion of the entire examination, the candidate is certified by the Institute as a Tea Master.

As I toured the Institute, students were being put through their paces in the skills test. When I passed through the examination area, one of the candidates stopped what she was doing to exclaim, 'I saw you on television last night!' This came as something of a surprise to me, although it is not entirely impossible that our delegation had been filmed for the nightly news.

Steven is a very busy man at Lu-Yu. And in addition to his work as a Tea Master, he is (among other things) Leader of the Ten Ren Teaism Foundation's Herin Tea Troupe; a Tea Instructor for the International Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony Association; and a writer/translator for the Lu Yu Institute's Tea Culture Monthly. I was grateful that he was able to carve out some time for me amid what was clearly a taxing schedule. While he was doing so, I had some time to browse the shelves of books and tea-ware that were for sale. I found some wonderful things, including a Chinese-language edition of Lu-Yu's Cha Jing that was bound together with the (Qing-era) Continuation of the Cha Jing.

Eventually Steven was able to to sit down, take a deep breath, and brew some tea. We had a good long chat, covering many topics. Steven told me about his 2005 visit to Wu Yi Shan, on the mainland, and how at that time he came to devise the proverb 茶是我们的桥梁 -- 'Tea Is Our Bridge.' This is a topic that matters a great deal to me: the healing and communicative powers of sharing tea. Certainly tea and cha dao cover some of the profoundest areas of common interest between Taiwan and the mainland of China.

Steven showed me around the building, explaining a bit about the Ten Ren empire and its history. I was able to shake hands with Professor Tsai Rong-Tsang, the founder and General Manager of the Lu Yu Institute. Tsai is Professor and Chairman of the Tea Arts Department at Ten Fu Tea College, and Secretary-General of Ten Ren Teaism Foundation. A prolific publisher, Tsai has been editing Tea Culture Monthly since the 1980s, and has authored several books. When we reached the fourth floor, I saw a hive of workers, busy at the work of the company. This floor also includes the offices of Lee Rie-Ho, the man who founded the company in 1953 and has chaired it since its inception. (Lee went on to establish the Ten Fu Group in 1993, as a way of bringing Taiwanese tea expertise back to the Chinese mainland. Ten Fu now has over 1000 retails stores across China "as of 2010".)

Steven sent me on my way with good cheer and warm wishes. Equally warmly, I commend his blog, TEA ARTS, to you, and the good educational work he is doing in the world of cha dao in Taiwan.

Written by CORAX John T. Kirby,  from  CHA DAO,  post TREASURE ISLAND: A Voyage to Taiwan [iv], June 25, 2007
(reviesed 2010, the 650 retail stores to 1000 retail stores, icetea8)

陸羽茶藝中心 Lu-Yu Tea Culture Institute