I began studying Mandarin Chinese when I was 15, moving to Beijing at 16 to attend Public High School there on a government-funded exchange program. That was 10 years ago, and since then I’ve spent most of my time living immersed in Chinese language and culture.
Somewhere along the way, I crossed paths with my current mentor, Professor Zhang, who opened my eyes to the fascinating academic field of Tea Science research, and I moved to Guangzhou to begin a tea-focused training regiment as his graduate student.
Under the guidance of Professor Zhang, I transitioned from Chinese Studies into the Agricultural Sciences, a process that came with plenty of growing pains. My new Tea Science program included coursework such as Advanced Biochemistry of Tea, Tea Plant Breeding and Genetics, and Tea Crop Cultivation, all graduate-level science courses instructed entirely in Chinese.
It took a few years of playing catch-up, but as of 2020, I have just wrapped up my Master’s thesis, written and defended in Chinese, and continue my Tea Science studies with doctoral research on the symbioses between tea roots and the soil microbiome.
So, what’s the deal with all of this? What value do I see in studying tea?
Well, one thing I love about studying tea is often getting to visit farms and spend time with Chinese farmers and tea masters. I come from a farming community in upstate NY, and grew up with a great deal of respect and admiration for agriculture, so it is an honor to reunite with growers and spend time in the field with them.
I also love China, and I see value in helping more people better understand the lesser known beauty of this culture. As the role of China on the global stage continues to rise throughout the 21st century it will be increasingly important to have mutual understanding and respect between Eastern and Western peoples, and one goal of Wu Mountain Tea is to promote that.
Lastly, I love… tea. I love that it’s great for health, tastes incredible when made well, it brings people together, and has rich history and culture behind it. Various individuals over the last 1500 years have dedicated their lives to the tea leaf in one way or another, whether as a grower, tea master, trader, or cultural proponent. My dream is to follow suit with this tradition, and dedicate myself to the utilization of this plant as an agent of health and happiness.
As for Wu Mountain Tea; this is the space where I can share my experience – both in terms of newly acquired knowledge and appreciation for tea, but also the unforgettable tea products I have happened upon along the way.
That’s a brief intro about me, and the idea behind WMT. Beyond that, I occasionally enjoy activities unrelated to tea. I can’t think of any right now but there must be some…
I’m kidding. My non-tea passion is big mountain skiing. During Winter months you can find me neck-deep in Hokkaido powder snow going big off a precipice in the back country.
Reach out! DM me on instagram @WuMountainTea