So this Tea Excursion is actually a follow-up to an earlier blog this summer wherein I decided to randomly drive to Traverse City to investigate a bit of word-of-mouth about Light of Day Organics. In that post I briefly introduced Light of Day Organics as the first tea garden I’d ever visited, and probably the only one i will visit for quite a while yet (there’s only like four in North America?). Since then, I’d been planning to attend at least one of LODO tea courses offered at their facility… when I heard the shocking news (can I get a drum roll please?) this week that Light of Day Organics won the bid to replace Harney & Sons as the tea vendor for the University of Michigan Unions! Come this Fall, students, faculty, etc. can enjoy LODO teas cheaply at any of the Unions, U-Gos, Bert’s and Java City locations in Ann Arbor. I swoon. I cry so hard. I punch the air. xD I asked specifically for permission to announce this on my blog and at least one of the companies thought it ideal. Suffice it to say, if I’d needed a reason to investigate LODO further, I just got it.
But more than that, i needed a vacation. I had used some vacation time last month, but i really hadn’t gone anywhere (the point of which was simply to avoid Ann Arbor Art Fair hell), and i’d been feeling that i really needed to. Although I try to live my life as a Buddhist, it’s extremely difficult if one’s not a member of a sanga. In addition, I’m trained in Tendai Buddhism, a Japanese sect that often uses aesticism and esoteric practices to assist meditation. I had looked into what potential Buddhist retreats I might pilgrimage this summer, but none had overlapped with my vacation time. I’d basically given up on this possibility for a while yet.
Yet, it turns out that attending a Light of Day Organics’ Tea 101 course is fairly aestic. After driving for hours into the crisp atmosphere and sparsely populated hills of Northern Lower Michigan, I was given a shot of pure matcha to awaken the senses and stimulate contemplation; led into a semi-permenant austere Yurt where i was asked to remove my shoes; sat saesa for 90 minutes around a squat table; and did nothing but smell and drink pure, organic, biodynamic tea and listen to the life-story, meditations and health insights of Light of Day Organic’s founder, Angela. By the time I left LODO (10+ minutes after the shop had closed) I felt so revived and rejuvenated that none of my various fears or neuroses could touch me. I was ridiculously happy and content and was so hesitant to return to the mundane world, I actually went out of my way to drive a meandering mountainous hairpin turning Manistee National Forest logging-road tour home (so as to avoid anything like modern civilization). I have to believe that outdoors nature therapy really is effective for Transgender-related mental issues. ;)
All this being said, it’s possible my presence wasn’t quite as freeing for the other tea students. xD The two other students in class with me were retired and knew little about tea (so, you know, legitimately learning); a LODO staff member who was studying to be instructor was also attending the class. As tea is my biggest hobby, i knew a very great deal about the subject and had to try and continually restrain my enthusiasm and bite my tongue when Angela kept introducing us to mind-blowing teas she’d grown and manufactured to perfection. Tea 101 isn’t a forum that allows for brain-picking, but that’s maybe because LODO rarely attracts customers as zealous about tea as I am. Near the end of the class i was handed a bag with some green Sheng Pu-erh to sniff and all-but-collapsed at the table from sensory overload. Light of Day Organics’ composting and aging methods push their rare Pu-erh scent into a heretofore never imagined zone of fermented earthy peat moss bliss. I wasn’t actually allowed to drink it… but my imagination and experience can fill in the gaps on this one. And actually, it’s probably a good thing that i couldn’t taste it, since being aroused during tea class would hardly have been appropriate behavior.
In terms of education, I did learn a very great deal about biodynamic farming and living better in-tune via the mind-body connection. I do believe that drinking matcha as pure as Light of Day Organics’ daily can greatly improve one’s health and longevity (and cleanse the system of misbehaving bowels like mine >.>). I myself had never gotten into matcha because it’s so much more work than preparing regular tea (which, if done correctly, is already a lot of work). But then, I’ve also never had matcha as pure as theirs (and given the holistic care and sheer human effort that goes into their matcha, it’s quite frankly unlikely to exist). Among other LODO teas I found i really enjoyed were Top o’ the Mountain, Enlightened White and Earl Grey (a multi-year World Tea Expo award winner leveraging a secret recipe I’m not at liberty to disclose). I also really enjoyed their Leelanau Licorice tisane, which contains lotus locally harvested via canoe. Wow…
During the short walk back to my car last night, I used my iPhone to Facebook Check-in to Light of Day Organics with the message “Favorite place on Earth”.