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Mar 13 2024 In Tea Journal By

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!

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