Sunday, 21 March 2010

Wu Dang Mountains, Mystical Retreat of Taoism, Ancestral Home of Tai Chi, A Centre of Tea

Many people who are familiar with China or martial arts will know that spread throughout the 72 peaks of Wu Dang are numerous Taoist temples, meditation retreats and Kung Fu schools. But what is lesser known is that this mountain range is home to some exceptional teas.

For centuries Wu Dang has been shrouded in secrecy, the Taoist monks who live here have practiced Qigong, a kind of esoteric excercise combining soft movements, breathing techniques and meditation, for centuries. Around 1000 years ago an immortal named Zhang San Feng was said to find his way to this place, where he brought his Kung Fu. But after witnessing a fight between a snake and a crane he was inspired by the graceful and flowing movements of the animals and so was said to have created the "internal" branch of martial arts, which doesnt rely on brute power or strength, but on yielding to force and developing Qi, an intrinsic energy in the body.

he martial arts developed and grew, and so did the monasteries on the mountains, with Wu Dang becoming a centre of many Taoist academic studies, not just martial arts but also medicine, fortune telling and agriculture. Of course with a refined understanding of the cycles of change in nature and the seasons, the monks were able to grow outstanding crops, one of which was tea, which survives to this day.

At Wu Dang over 20 different kinds of tea are produced, all of which are organic and grown according to ancient taoist agricultural methods.They have many varieties of green tea, including Zhen Jing, Kung Fu and also wulong and black teas. I would love to see these teas become better known and spread, and hopefully in the future I will make them available to the west, so let me know if you are interested.

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