Ah Wei is A Legend

In the Wuyi mountain, Ah Wei (阿炜) is a legend. He was an outsider who has made a name for himself - a painter who insists on traditional handmade cliff tea production, an individual whose dedication to cliff tea making has driven him to rely on medication to sustain his life, a practitioner of tea as an art, and someone who attracts tea enthusiasts from all over the country to watch him make tea.

We got to know Ah Wei when a friend brought me the Wu Yuan Jian Ban Tian Yao (悟源涧半天妖) tea that he had made. We were very surprised when we drank this tea for the first time. We had never imagined that cliff tea could be made to this level. At that time, a friend of mine didn’t sleep for three days after drinking only one cup of this tea, as if it had given her endless energy, and that’s when I decided to visit this artist in Wuyi Mountain.

It was already the autumn of 2016, and the tea-making season had passed. In order to demonstrate the whole process of making tea to me, he picked some fresh tea leaves when we were walking in the Wuyi mountain, put them in the pocket of his shirt and shook them. As the temperature in his pocket was much higher than the surroundings, the tea leaves actually began to ferment. I still have a vivid memory of that night, around 1 AM in his tearoom, when he took those tea leaves out of his pocket and brewed them. An unparalleled fresh, sacred and floral aroma burst forth, a scent I can't forget to this day.

He shared a lot about his life and experience in making cliff tea that night. He was originally a painter and had even opened an art school before he came to Wuyi mountain. However, as he was not good at dealing with business and people, the school eventually closed down. In his words, the reason he turned to tea-making was because it felt easier to face tea trees than to face people. After staying in the Wuyi mountain for a few years, he realised that we humans only absorb second-hand information from Heaven and Earth. Unlike trees, we can't directly absorb sunlight and nutrients from the soil to survive. Therefore, what we get is always second-hand information from plants. So in Wuyi mountain, he is like a tea tree, taking in first-hand information from Heaven and Earth.

He told me that the most important part of making Wuyi cliff tea is "living 活”. Throughout the entire tea-making process, it is crucial to maintain the balance of Yin (阴) and Yang (阳) to ensure that the vitality of the tea leaves is not lost. For example, during a process known as “withering”, after exposing the leaves to sunlight for a while, he will move them into shade to let them rest. During another process known as “shaking”, he always separates the young leaves from the older ones. The young leaves will be shaken gently and the old leaves will be shaken harder. Unlike most workshops nowadays that use machines to continuously shake the tea leaves, he believes that tea leaves also need to breathe and rest during the processing. So, the word “living” encapsulates his entire tea-making philosophy.

After the pandemic, I visited him again. He brewed a pot of tea that he had made in 2012, which was already over twelve years old. Surprisingly, the tea had a very fresh aroma of peaches, as if it had just been made from fresh leaves, and similar as the legendary Taoist elixirs, powerful Qi filled the meridians throughout my body. At that moment, I was deeply enlightened to the concept of "living” as he had described before. The most special thing about Wuyi cliff tea is not its aroma but the vitality from Heaven and Earth that it carries. This is also what I have realised over the years of making incense. Tea and spices are both carriers, carrying the original life force from nature, which is that we humans actually need from them.

It is based on this consensus that Ah Wei officially authorised the Dr. Incense and our online platform dr-incense.com to share his cliff tea. He believes in us and hopes that through us, more tea lovers around the world can appreciate his crafts.

 

The following article is from a professional tea magazine – 茶源地理 武夷山  (Tea Geography Wuyi Mountain), which records the Ah Wei's story. Due to limited time, we cannot translate the entire article right now, hope we can do it in the near future.

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