Cloudwalker Tea is born out of a love of tradition, of artistry, and of extraordinary experience. Much in the same way music, painting, or dance, can defy the power of language to capture them in full. So it goes with the word quality when it is used to describe the relative worth of a product such as tea. Words may point us in the direction of peak experience, though they are only reference points. Superlatives are often overused in describing the relatively mundane, while that which is genuine and true often whispers or merely hints at what lies beneath the surface.
— Name, Title
Cloudwalker founder Erick Smithe was fortunate to begin his study of tea at a very special time in the modern history of Classical Chinese tea, when old tea flowed freely and with an abundance never before seen in history. It was a flash mob style Renaissance, which he took in largely from a relatively serene hamlet in Taiwan, studying closely with one of the true giants of the Way of Tea, Ho Tsai-Ping. For Mr. Ho, Erick led the translation effort and was the chief English language editor of the book Cha Dao — from tea to Tao (2010). Though this project was undertaken purely for the love of the process and cultural significance, Erick was personally educated by Mr. Ho in a systematic way in a study of Antique Pu-Erh tea from the early 19th century (1812) to the present.
Erick is one of very few people in the world to have similar training and perhaps more unique is his near encyclopedic recall of these teas — enabling him to accurately date and appraise fine vintage tea. Mr. Ho often tested Erick at large tea gatherings of 80 or more people, calling upon him to identify the age of a tea by the mere sight, smell or mouthful. This skill was praised by Mr. He (not a man quick to praise) as “something not very many people can do”. At the present time, to even attempt to recreate such a training module would require great connections in the collecting world and about 30 million dollars to start. This may sound a bit like a fish story, but the tea is far more extraordinary that it may at first seem. Like martial Taichi, it’s power appears hidden — until it isn’t.
After seven years of concentrated multidisciplinary study in Taiwan Erick returned to Canada and was subsequently tapped to represent the largest Pu-Erh tea collection in the world to the International market place, which he did before returning to a series of passion projects. Cloudwalker, though modest in scale, represents the culmination of his near two decades of experience in Asia and North America, relating as best he can a process which has enchanted, inspired, galvanized and defied description for millennia. It is his belief that tea is something of a drinkable wisdom, a meditation in liquid form, and a tonic which has the ability to bring the world together in a more harmonious and enlightened way.
Great tea is often a quiet process, at first anyway — though laughter and song may follow as
with other types of drinking parties. Tea is often likened to a silent song, one which we must subtly tune ourselves into as if to a radio. Each tea variety and each individual tea are known to have their own unique frequency or resonance, which, if we can filter through the fabric of our being, will reveal itself in most delightful and (at times) unexpected ways. Tea is known to produce flights of fancy, creative bursts of colour, spontaneous rejuvenation of spirit and of body. Tea, in its original context is viewed in a way like a touchstone, effecting a curious alchemy in the body; capable of harmonizing the bonds between flesh, between friends and between adversaries also. The promises of tea, when pure and natural, are not much different than those of the alchemist or the chemist of ages past. When the tea is just right and we are in the right frame to receive it, we very readily see the base substance that was ourselves converted — before our eyes — into gold.