The essential element in Tea culture-business is connections. This extends beyond the simple factor of knowing the right people with the good stuff -- though this factor can't be discounted. It extends well beyond this to connection with Nature, with Self and with something perhaps best described as the supra-reality.
The internet connects, as do tea fairs and tea parties. However, these can function a bit like the search for water in the desert without either map or guide.
The simple finding of tea is easy. Tea is available in grocery stores for a few dollars for a fifty pack. Spending large sums of Fiat on tea cakes offers no greater insurance of quality — that you will drink from the silent spring of evolved consciousness. This being the unifying quality in all truly fine tea.
The first step in finding such teas, is a reordering of the mind -- and to an extent the body -- a reordering of the spirit and consciousness. What is necessary is the wholesale re-branding of the fundamental ideas which one has surrounding tea. The greatest barrier to entering the inner circles of high-tea experience is first knowing that it exists in the first place. The second is the bravery to seek it out, no matter where this journey may take us.
The finest teas -- for you the tea drinker -- may be nestled in some valley in the Himalaya, like the mythical Shambala. Alternately they may be just around the corner from where you are right now, or sitting quietly with your neighbours across the hall.
The notion that tea is the exclusive domain of the spiritual-smorgesborgist, the medi-tourist, the guru or even the spiritual empath, is absurd.
This fact is conferred first hand countless times in the words of a thousand scrolls, along a path stretching out thousands of years — recorded in old bones that cannot be deciphered. This path ultimately leads to you, here and now, for there was never any a time other. To experience great tea fully, is to be suspended eternally in this moment, and to scribe your own name in the guestbook of the immortals.
Tea is consumed by all walks of life and by all manner of people. The saintly and the roguish alike. I often use the example of the Samurai who would meditate, drink tea and write poems -- before going about the business of cutting off heads.
While the path of the warrior may appeal you. All too often it is those without qualification, initiation or introduction, in this Cha-Dao, who will suggest that the deepest insights of tea are available only to those who renounce this world. These heights of experience are available to both the monk who sweeps the temple floor, and also the hero’s who join the goddess in ecstatic union. Having wandered both paths I see them of equal value.
Reverence for the leaf Camelia is essential — though that reverence comes in as many forms as cloud forms, fingerprints and snow-scapes.
To steal a line from Goethe -- be bold and great forces (of Tea) will come to your aid.
Be bold. Be fearless. In this Way, you will no longer have to (truly) search for tea, as it will be searching for you.