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Wednesday, 13 March 2024 18:40

Discover Teas and the virtual Wu Wo Ceremony

The Taiwanese 無我 (Wū Wǒ) tea ceremony has always been close to the heart of Discover Teas, ever since our founder Chris Farishon first attended a Wū Wǒ ceremony at the World Tea Expo over 10 years ago. It's become an indispensable expression of the mission of Discover Teas: Tea with love. In fact, one of my core memories about becoming part of Discover Teas was attending my first Wū Wǒ ceremony, months before I ever applied or was hired onto Discover Teas staff. The experience was so moving for me that it cemented my desire to join the Discover Teas family, and it's a tradition that has meant a lot for me to continue now that I am the business owner.

There are 2 reasons Discover Teas translated the Wū Wǒ ceremony into a virtual format: accessibility and safety. In continuing this, my goal is to be able to share this bonding experience with as many people as possible, while keeping the most vulnerable among us safe. The literal meaning of 無我 is "without myself," and the ceremony serves not only to bring our tea family together, but as a reminder to infuse this spirit of giving and sharing into our daily lives.

If you've never experienced an in-person or virtual Wū Wǒ ceremony before, here are the 7 principles of Wū Wǒ, as translated by the Northwest Wu Wo Tea Association:

  1. Seating is determined by random drawing. There is no distinction by rank or social status.
  2. Tea is served in one direction but received from the other. No reward is expected from those you have served.
  3. Keep an open mind and reserve judgment in order to accept and appreciate different teas and brewing styles.
  4. Check and review constantly while keeping a positive and tolerant attitude in order to brew the best tea you can.
  5. Brewing is not restricted to any particular school or regional style.
  6. Everyone follows the rules and prearranged schedule so no director is needed.
  7. Silence is maintained while brewing to allow the cultivation of group rhythm and harmony and a spirit of cooperation and thoughtfulness toward others.


To develop Discover Teas' virtual version of the Wū Wǒ ceremony, I tried to keep to the principles of 無我 while making certain accommodations for accessibility:

  • Of course, we have not yet reached the part where virtual steepers can pour tea for everyone, so for now, we will continue with preparing individual servings unless others are present with you and would like to have tea. (I've considered an option to include sharing different teas before, but the amount of logistical demands and restrictions it would require of steepers has always felt too high for me to be comfortable.)
  • I don’t consider myself a “director” in this, but in the virtual format, a facilitator is helpful to reduce confusion and increase peoples’ comfort with participating, whether as steepers or as observers.
  • To add the spirit of sharing into the virtual ceremony, each steeper brings a tea that evokes that ceremony's theme, and we share these connections among us when introducing ourselves and our teas. This gives everyone different stories to savor while we sip our tea. With the in-person ceremony, the same tea can be steeped by different people and still taste different because their experiences and preferences touch the way the tea is made. In the same way, with this format everyone experiences the theme differently, and their takes on it can also change the way we interpret it ourselves.


So, what’s the theme for this year? Community!

Community (or communi-tea) has always been at the heart of Discover Teas, and at this pivotal time when the most marginalized among us continue to be at risk here and around the world, building and maintaining community is more important than ever. So this year, the theme for the Discover Teas virtual Wū Wǒ ceremony is Community. If you are interested in participating as a steeper, please prepare a tea to steep that celebrates community for you, however you define it.

Interested in steeping or observing this year's event on Saturday, March 23rd, 2024 at 2:30pm? Preregister here! Early birds who register to steep before 11:59pm Eastern on Friday, March 15th, can also receive a gift package. More details at the link!

Hi tea lovers! It's Mai-Anh. 2021 brought a lot of change to the world, to our communities, and to Discover Teas. As I move forward as a 1-woman show, I know that there are changes I need to make in order to keep Discover Teas running smoothly and safely. In addition to that, I hope to be able to introduce the new soon for a more stable shopping experience.

As I make these decisions, it's truly important to me not to lose sight of what matters most to you, the Discover Teas tea family. Without your support, Discover Teas wouldn't be here today and could not continue, and I am always grateful for the opportunity to continue bringing you tea with love.

So, as I plan for what's next, I want to reach out to YOU and gather your opinions on what you'd like to see as we move forward together with Discover Teas. I've put together a list of questions to help you tell me what you'd like me to focus on most (or first) as I come up with new ideas to improve the Discover Teas experience.

At their core, these questions are meant for me to learn 2 things:

• What do you want Discover Teas to KEEP doing? What do you appreciate about our goals and values and how do they align with yours?


• What do you want Discover Teas to START doing? What new things would you like to see from Discover Teas that I can, realistically, provide for you?

I've split these questions into different polls below because while I value your input, I also value your time, and I want to accommodate those for whom it's easier to answer each question individually than all at once. Each individual question should take about 5 minutes to answer.

However, if it's easier for you to answer everything all in one sitting, I've also consolidated the questions here, where they may take about 10–15 minutes to complete in one sitting.

Please feel free to use whichever method works best for you—and thank you so much for sharing your input with me!

What's most important to you about shopping Discover Teas?

(Answers to this question will be used to see which values you most appreciate supporting in your Discover Teas ordering and content experience)

What is your favorite part of the ordering experience at Discover Teas?

(Answers to this question will be used to help me decide what to prioritize, particularly during high-volume times)

What features would you most like to see on the new

(Answers to this question will be used to prioritize features and content creation for our new website)

Which new products would you like to see from Discover Teas?

(Answers to this question will be used to help me determine what new products to research to add value to your Discover Teas purchases)

What kind of information would you like to see about tea?

(Answers to this question will be used to guide Discover Teas' social media strategy, newsletter content, and potential online workshops)

Aside from tea, what other things do you enjoy?

(Answers to this question will be used to guide me when deciding on, approaching, or creating potential partnerships or crossover products)

To answer all of the questions in ONE survey, click here!

Again, thank you so much for your input! Now that I'm a solopreneur, and with recent increases in our overhead at Discover Teas, there is a limited amount of things I can do while still providing a quality Discover Teas experience, and your response will help me build a better Discover Teas for everyone. I may not be able to make everyone happy, but I will take each survey response into account as I plan for the future.

—Mai-Anh ♥

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