A Journey of Cultivation
Tea lovers believe that tea talks. They know that its beauty and essence are in its preparation. The intention, patience, and wellness we cultivate is what we pour into our daily lives. So it is fitting that the story of Zen and Tea and its founder, Master Wang, involve all of these and more.
Master Wang cherished his homeland, Yunnan, China. Even as a transplant in the United States, he made sure to share the best of what his culture had to offer, real deal tea. His life mission of wellness and education ran deeply in all aspects of his life like the roots of the old tea trees in Yunnan Province.
Wang Hong was born 1965 in Teng Chong, a jade polishing village in the western part of Yunnan Province. The south west of this province, Xi Shuang Bana, is the original home of all teas, camellia sinensis assamica and sinensis sinensis. His childhood experiences were infused with his land’s tea leaves and brews...
Part of the preparation for what was to come later in his life began with Master Wang receiving an MA in International Economics from the Beijing University of Business. Although he didn’t know at the time how this would serve him, it did lay the groundwork for what he would achieve further down the road.
In 1989 the Tiananmen Square protests were happening in China.Wang Hong joined the hunger strikes in the fight for freedom and justice. He almost lost his life to a stomach issue after fasting for two weeks. Wang walked the talk.
After graduation he became extremely sick. He wouldn't leave his apartment in Beijing for days at a time. One day a legendary Qi gong master came to check in on him. After a few sessions Wang Hong felt a lot better and became the master’s student and trained. He continued studying QiGong healing in relation to his health concerns all his life. He suffered from rheumatic pain, stomach ulcers, and headaches, and he knew there was a better way to live. Wang was in preparation for the tea way of life that was coming.
In 1992, he opened a clinic in Beijing and met and married his wife, Rachel. Together, Rachel and Wang moved to San Francisco in 1995 and opened a clinic. They carefully experimented with different dietary models in their search for holistic wellness, and eventually adopted a vegan diet.
Rachel and Wang patiently developed their lifestyle and business in their new city. They set up a bodywork clinic where they practiced tui-na-an-mo massage, qi gong and cupping.
As a Zen Buddhist Master, Wang continued as a vegan and gave lectures and Dharma talks to inform, inspire and educate his listeners and followers around the Bay Area, CA.
He was now becoming Master Wang.
In 2000, at the famous Berkeley event, The Himalayan Fair, Master Wang noticed that a small group of people were drinking and sharing Puer tea. His life trajectory was about to move in a whole new direction. Seeing people enjoy and welcome Puer into their lives, Master Wang was inspired yet again to share another piece of China’s healing arts with his western friends. Back in TengChong on his yearly trips, he visited farms and studied the art of tea ceremony and Puer cultivation from tea masters. He practiced palate work to train his mouth to identify nuances in the tea. He started small and shared his findings with his clients and students.
Eventually, Master Wang was ready to begin importing Puer tea himself. His MA in International Economics and his patient pursuit of wellness all came together. He entered the market seriously in 2008 after opening his Medicine Buddha temple/clinic. His first selection of handcrafted ripe and raw Puer teas were: Trinity, Heavens Brick, Earth Brick and Zen Brick.
Partnering with other tea connoisseurs, such as David Wright of Hidden Peak tea House, Winnie Yu of Teance, and Travis Peterson of Dobra Tea, Master Wang began perfecting his business as he educated his consumers.
His vegan lifestyle ( garlic and onion free ) and palate work obsession gifted him the ability to choose teas masterfully and confidently. He was careful and meticulous in selecting teas to import and share with his clients and customers.
Although he and Rachel divorced in 2010, Wang continued his well-traveled path of learning and healing. After having opened the Medicine Buddha Healing Center and spending time guiding tea plantation tours in Yunnan Province, his dedication to education was rooted. From business to health, Wang knew that continual learning was the key.
In his pursuit of the wellness that Puer tea can offer, Master Wang began three tea-based businesses: Zen and Tea, Total Vitality, and Pureland Tea.
He was passionate about knowing the origins of the tea he imported, sold, and consumed himself. He made friends and connections at the tea plantations and markets in Kunming and Xi Shuang Bana so that he could trust the quality of what he was receiving.
Master Wang was adamant that his Puer tea come from the ancient trees of Yunnan Province. He worked diligently to educate consumers about the difference between real, pure Puer tea and the inferior products produced elsewhere. With preparation and patience, he gave the world wellness through tea.
A Well-Rooted Legacy
From the founding of his Medicine Buddha Healing Center until his death, Wang embraced the preparation and patience that goes into full wellness. He taught from the Heart Sutra and worked to bring health to his family.
His retreat space in TengChong offers peace and restoration to those he loved. He cherished the beauty of a simple life and the joy of creating spaces that reflected his style and taste. This visionary man, with his unique take on life, helped bring the gift of Puer to all of us. The beauty of the tea is best expressed in Wang’s words:
“Puer tea is art expressed as medicine, and also medicine expressed as art. It’s a drinkable antique, and its value is priceless even beyond speculation. I look forward to having other tea masters and tea professionals add to the growing international dialog, collaboration, and sharing of the powerful living art and living medicine known as Puer tea.”
Carrying the Torch
Pour the water into the pot. Spark the fire under the woodstove. Set the pot of water on the stove to boil. Prepare for ritual. Tidy up your space for a ceremony. Take out your favorite tea. Set out your tea table, tea pot, and tea cups. Pour the hot water over the leaves. Begin the adventure of exploring your own senses and feelings. This ritual, done over and over, imprints itself warmly and deeply onto us and becomes a trusted and joyful activity over time.
Now Anoah, Master Wang's son, is working to build a company that brings people together and strengthens healthy human connection through its core values and principles. He grew up learning and experiencing his father’s tea teachings and philosophy, now he is tending to the brand and furthering his dream and vision. That of sharing the exquisite essence of what Tea Drinking can inspire in a person’s life; coming together, striving for good health, cultivating calm and exercising a deepening awe into nature and the plant - Camellia Sinensis and her delightful gift to our world!
Our family, left to right: Aura, Anoah, Aladdin and Rachel