Belgium Chinese Tea Centre

Chinese Tea Academy & Chinese Tea Culture Exchange Centre

Category: About Us (Page 1 of 5)

My Journey with Tea

What a coincidence, two days after the self-reflection about my life journey with tea the other day, Marcus in Canada caught me early this morning and asked if he could have an interview with me about my story with tea:

Q: I was born in …..

When I shared my migration story with the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp many years ago, I started the migration and love story of my parents. My father was from Hunan and my mother was from ShanDong where there are more than 1,200km distance, if it wasn’t because my Dad’s troops were sent to Shandong to take over the territory after the surrender of Japan after the War when my Dad’s troops stationed at my Mom’s home property, the sparkle of romance of this couple won’t happened; in their romantic story there are love, laugh, sadness, tears and families. If it wasn’t because my parents followed the Chiang KaiShek to Taiwan in 1949, if it wasn’t because my biological parents gave me away for adoption to General Hsiao, then I don’t know how to ink my story from Taiwan to Europe in 1991 till today.

My father was a retired General and my mother was a full time Mom, my family basically have nothing to do with tea, but as the eldest daughter I enjoyed to prepare tea for my parents when I was about 8-9 years old. Due to the special health conditions of my Mom, so my first lessons about tea were about:

  • Tea has many health benefits, but must consider the who, what, when and how, otherwise the damages from tea could be worse than benefits
  • Be careful not to drink too much very strong tea
  • Health sustainability actually is not that difficult, the basic principle begins with “eating less, drinking mild”
  • Tea is not just about offering a cup of tea, but appropriate serving manners are very important in Chinese culture

Q: My medicine is …..

Instead of thinking of ‘medicine’, I thought about the what, which and how have supported me to survive from physical pains and psychological stress that I have been through in life.

Even though tea does provide me a lot of nutrient in daily diet with great flavors and tastes, but the medicine to sustain balance in body, mind and energy is more than tea but the combination of :

  • the traditional Confucius moral teachings that my father taught me in my childhood, that gives me a very pragmatic process to reach the inner self through reflection & problem solving
  • The purity, authenticity, honesty and respect to the Nature, respectful social behaviours and collective energy elaborated me when enjoying a complete tea moment
  • The practice of Daoyin Qigong since 1985 has not only helped me to ease physical pains through relaxation and zen philosophy through moving meditation, but also helped me to realise the importance of ‘alignment” in body, Qi and Spirit for health in life.

These three seem all separately, but actually can connect perfectly together to enhance the lifetime learning attitude and practices in actions.

Q: But it was not always this way…….

Well, I can basically divide my journey with tea in different phases:

If you asked me what was my relationship with tea before 1985, I would introduce myself as a “Tea Likers” as my parents:

  • As normal, if it’s not tea, then we drink boiled hot water
  • I liked the fine flavors and tastes when I made tea for my parents
  • I always ended up in tea fields when went for hiking with friends in the student time
  • Always like to have a cup of tea after heavy meal with friends and colleagues

If you asked me this question before 1991 after 1985, I would introduce myself as a ‘Qualified Tea Lover’, because I was truly attracted to tea when I found my ‘healing corner’ in the tea mountain near Taipei where

  • I learn how to brew the ‘Laoren Cha’ (the grandfather style of old traditional Caozhou brewing manner, which laid the base for ‘gongfu cha’ afterwards)
  • Through the brewing and tasting, I discovered more about tea; the more I know about tea, the more I was eager to learn more
  • When enjoy the calm and peaceful moment in the Nature with tea, I was able to set the stress aside, no planning, no desires for achievement, just me with tea while surrounding by the Nature.
  • By knowing more about the tea picking and making processes, I was entreated by those hard working people and priceless values behind each tea leaf in the cup

I moved to Belgium in 1991 because of marriage, it was sad that I left the most important people who truly loved me (my parents) behind. I tried my best to integrate in local society, meanwhile have to find my own inner peace and strength when facing racism and discrimination. The way I cope with home sick was to invite friends for Chinese dinner, afterwards served them a cup of tea. At that time till 1995, tea became my ‘secret lover’ who I knew it wouldn’t hurt or disappoint me as long as long as I stick to the principle of pure and authentic quality.

A Belgian friend, Yves, who regularly came to visit me and enjoyed tea at my home, requested me in 1994 to give Chinese tea workshop when his Taiji Centre was ready at end of 1995.

Living in Belgium allows me to contact China directly. The trust from Yves became my responsibilities and motivations to learn more about tea through tasting. During that time, I spent nearly 14-18 hours a day to taste, to find out more information about tea and Chinese tea culture. That learning process opened the door for me to have better 360 degree learning about tea without commercial interference, and I am freed from any political or relationship constraints。

The first group of ladies who came for the tea workshop helped me to realise: they knew nothing about tea, don’t know what and how to distinguish quality and don’t know how to brew tea. The mission that I need to commit was crystal clear immediately that unless more people know about tea, appreciate pure & authentic quality, then there is no chance for Chinese Speciality teas; European appreciate culture, so the best way is through the promotion of Chinese tea culture. During 1995 to 2001, I did my best to participate all kind of cultural activities in Belgium. I became a ”Crazy Investor” to tea and Chinese tea culture, gradually received recognition as Chinese tea ambassador.

Unexpectedly I was forced into family drama situation started in 2001, when the Pandora box was opened in 2002, I have to make every adjustment that I could do to take care two young children meanwhile handled the legal fights against my ex-. Even though I lost my company to my ex- that I couldn’t make any financial investment on tea, but it did not stop me to invest my time and passion to tea. As matter of fact, promoting Chinese tea culture and speaking for tea gave me a lot of strength to cope with the stress & pain from physical violence threats, unspeakable psychological and emotional stress during 2002-2005. Devotion to tea and Chinese tea culture became my rescuer, and we need each others.

Later, with supports and encouragement from my husband, Ivo, Belgium Chinese Tea Association was born.

The tea market was growing since 1995, but the pure tea growing was still facing the bottleneck due to the following reasons:

  • The priority for many tea shop owners is $$$ but not quality of tea
  • The market growing has actually enlarged the knowledge gap because most consumers still did not have sufficient knowledge about tea to health, tea selection and tea brewing
  • Numbers of tea sommeliers were (still are) increasing, but knowledge level was (still is) not increasing as the way the market was growing. Reasons? Simple, egoism, profit gaining and lack of collectivism are more important than the commitment to tea learning.
  • Conclusion: Those who would like to become more qualified tea sommelier require more serious education program and coaching for tea.

Mei Lan received the recognition from China Teaman Friendship Association as the ‘best tea teacher and promoter’ award in 2018 and the Association is being appointed as China Teaman Friendship Association Belgium Center.

The mission to promote correct and authentic knowledge about tea and to stimulate the growth of tea culture in Europe, it requires collective efforts from European tea seeds, therefore in the last few years, Mei Lan is devoting more efforts in Tea Sommelier Certification Programs to those who would like to upgrade their capability to provide better quality tea, services and coaching.

Belgium Chinese Tea Academy provides the following training programs:

  1. Tea Sommelier Certification Program
  2. Tea to health workshops for health coach
  3. Chinese tea ceremony – basic
  4. Tea meditation
  5. Cha Jing Study
  6. Chinese Cha Dao

Life Learning

Today I though about my conversations with my sons Cedric (萧光義) and Alexander (萧光仁) when they were teens. As mother, it is my duty to pass on my family values to my children based on what my father taught me to examine own actions based on morals, respect, obligations and duties since I have memories in life.

My father always reminds me even after he passed away for long time but he and his teaching are forever fresh in my heart:

Don’t ask what others do to you, but examine own deeds and actions to others, everyday!

My father taught me about respect, meantime emphasis law and order. He taught me the essence of tolerance, understanding and pragmatism, but he never taught me to surrender without moral and legal reason.

GuangYi 光義(Cedric) and GuangRen 光仁(Alexander)never have the chance to meet their grandfather, I do, however, hope they will remember the meaning of their Chinese names. and do their best to live based on moral teachings of Hsiao (Xiao 萧)family, Being able to be named by Hsiao family tree tradition is an exceptional recognition and explicits the family duty expectation that my father had on me before he passed away. It is more than moral duty but honor to me.

The world is facing a serious problem because lack of moral education for respect in our schooling system and social education in our society. Religion lessons =/= morals lessons because God can only help those who help themselves. Everyone like to talk about freedom and think they can claim unlimited rights to act whatever they like. They are wrong, there are Law and Order #lawandorder they have to follow. It is not like they could forgiven by confessing to priest in the church, even that, as a Buddhist I truly believe we all will be judged and received rightful punishment when we face God one day, In real life people who intentionally violate rights of others should be punished according to laws.

Laws and regulations set the legal boundary to build the peace and order in our society; only when being able to build can think and talk about growing. In life the #oposite of #freedom is #obligations; from #rights are #duties . One only has rights to claim freedom if s/he can first show respect to others and can act based on morals, obligations & duties.

When I read nonsense insults to Dr. Marc Van Ranst on twitter today, I sighed.  I do hope the Belgian schooling system can emphasis more moral and good social behaviors, but not emphasis on rights by ignore obligations and duties in education, which should start from the early as possible.

I do hope Belgian police can catch those who abusive their preconceived freedom and rights by insulting others on social media and let them receive the rightful punishments, regardless their age or social status.

Tea learning in COVID-19 Pandemic period

The spike of COVID-19 pandemic rage the world by surprise; the announcement for lock-down took us by surprise; we have been hoping for reopening, but the announcement for gradually reopening gave us some joyful news, in the meantime, start to question ourselves “What and How should I do to cope with the new way of living”.

When we are in the process of preparing ourselves for the reopening, we probably also need to prepare ourselves to accept that most people are facing a same challenge that we will not able to have old life back so easily, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to change our social behaviors and the way of living for an unknow period of time ahead.

Actually the more I practice the Chinese tea ceremony, it is more clear why it’s helpful for everyone to manage the isolation and stress in the lock down period:

  • With tea, we learn to engage with ourselves through silence and simple focus
  • With the simple way of tea serving and sharing, we connect with other person who share the tea with in much calmer and peaceful manners.
  • With the practice of simple Chinese tea ceremony, even as short as one minute is a complete 60 seconds
  • When enjoy a cup of tea, there is no desire, no fear, no judgement, but simply pure concentration and appreciation

The nasty COVID-19 Coronavirus urged us to rethink what and how we should take actions for our future starting from today: Environment, Disinfection, and Unity. Public Health is no longer a government’s responsibility, but we have to take our part of responsibilities seriously.

Priceless values in tea

How do you judge tea before making decision for your selection? What are you fancy desires from tea?

The foundation for fine flavours and tastes from authentic fine quality tea requires basic 3 factors 

  • Healthy balance in the #Nature ,
  • Hardworking people who we don’t know their names
  • Accumulated of wisdom from the inherited tea culture

When buying tea next time, perhaps can ask yourself a question, especially if you think you deserve better quality but on the other hand still hunt tea based on cheap price :

How can anyone judge the authentic quality from these basic 3 factors, the balance of Heaven, Earth and People, based on price and think it should be cheap?

The most critical 3 poles for the foundation, Heaven, Earth and People, never judge anyone, but simply growing, offering and sharing.

Masks War Update

International political driven pressure to China has never seized even with the worsen situation of #COVID19 #Coronavirus worldwide pandemic. Recent unfaired and racist attacks from #mouthmasks eventually have touched the bottom line and are now facing counter reactions from China government.

China strictens the quality standards fir export

Starting from 1/4/2020 not only #mouthmasks but all medical supplies and equipments must have the quality testing certificate/report that product quality have been tested and approved according to China standards in order to receive a quality testing certificate/report issued by any from 48 approved quality verification organizations. Right now there are 48 companies are verified and approved by #CNAS can provide the quality checking and approval certificate; such testing report is issued in Chinese and CNAS logo should be appeared on the testing report. Cargoes will only be allowed for export shipment with such testing certificate/report and requires an written acceptance agreement from oversea buyers.

International quality testing community should work with CNAS to establish an universal quality testing standards in terms of testing methods and acceptance of the testing result. Otherwise no medical supplies can be shipped out. Also transhipment is not allowed.

The international quality testing community shouldn’t downgrade the CNAS quality standards without consulting. Also back fight to deny quality testing report issued by other European countries won’t help the problem situation that we are facing collaterally.

The China government point of view is very clear “

Those recent unfair accusations and complaints about the mask quality forced the China government to set stricter guidelines for the mouth masks export.  I hope the linked information are useful for you.

The point of view from China government is clear : “We do care about the quality of medical supplies for live saving; they don’t have to buy if they don’t accept our standards and testing certificate/report we approved.

China has suffered a lot from the outbreak of #COVID19 #Coronavirus in #WuHan. They have established very strict quality standards that shouldn’t missed up the international business tractions if importers or buyers did mot pay attention to make clear with specifications and required quality standards.

That’s why for weeks I tried to urge your attention that customers should know what they are buying and should give very clear specifications and quality standards before hands.

Complaints and put the blames to China is not fair to handle the situation, certainly it is not able to ease the pandemic situations that our medical personnel are facing right now.

When virus outbreak happened in WuHan, there were many international donated masks did not meet the surgical masks (N95, FFP3)standards, so they sent medical quality experts from hospitals and Red Cross to classify masks. Those unqualified masks were distributed to community for civilian protection masks use.China and Chinese people did not make any complaints, even though many masks did not meet the medical mask standards, China and Chinese people still showed gratitude to the humanitarian generosity and friendship.

copyrighted by Mei Lan Hsiao, 2/4/2020

Song for Coronavirus Fight

The news of Corona virus outbreak happened in WuHan, we were shocked as billions of Chinese in China on how fast it was quickly spreading and deadly threats from this unknown virus. It rages the world by its powerful speed and deadly threats that we never though it can spread so fast and cause so much fear and panic with the jumping numbers of infection and fatalities in the world.

Today international medias also recognized the early announcement of “lockdown” guidelines that our government issued effective on 13/03/2020 helped to save thousands of live. In the past, when we talk about globalization, we talk about impacts from the world changes, however, we have never thought about one day we will face for what are happening right now that we can’t shake hands, no hugging or kissing as basic social greeting; the normal retail market operations and live styles will be setting onto a paused status.

Earth shaking news and rumors constantly mentioned on TV, radio and internet, but the bottom line questions we face are: What is that all about? What should I do? How should I face and handle the new way of living?

Filip Bauters, Belgian music composer
Filip Bauters, Belgian music composer

A 55 years old Belgian music composer, Filip Bauters, a father of three great children and four happy grandchildren, who studied music at the Ghent conservatory and has been busy with music all his life everyday shares the same stressful worries as many people that we all try to process the current Coronavirus situation in our own way, decided to compose a music and to share the song for the Coronavirus fight with the world.

When Alice asked me would I be interesting to cooperate with Filip who composed a melody which he would like to have in different language, of course includes Chinese, so people around the world could share the message of solidarity through a song. Without hesitation, I immediately said ‘Yes” to this meaningful project.

It is not so easy to translate the original Dutch text to Chinese, I can only do my best to grasp the essence messages for unity that Filip would like to express by considering the melody flow. This is such fun and meaningful project that I look forwards to other language version on the #youtube soon.

Hope the monster will yield soon

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFUuDsoWluE

Here I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. Filip Bauters again for giving me this opportunity to participate this beautiful and meaningful project .

Drinking tea correctly

We still don’t know the original source of #Coronavirus, but we do start to have more information about this tiny evil monster that it targets people whose immunity is not top regardless age and this deadly virus can cause live threatening complex problems.

Before medical and medicine research scientists can develop effective medicines and vaccines, the only things we can do are

  • Following the guidelines for #socialdistancing,
  • Maintaining balanced and healthy diets,
  • Paying extra attention on hygienic care
  • Learning and adapting new social behaviors,
  • Remaining calm and positive energy
  • Every detail helps to strengthen the immunity system.

Here under is my response to a marketing email from a tea supplier today:

Yes, there are plenty health benefits from tea. The medical effects on immunity system in this COVID-19 pandemic situation becomes more interesting and important. However, as a responsible tea person, I choose to be more cautious to give bold suggestions without solid facts and research data. 

People who want to profit health benefits from teas, must consider the basic 5W1H: Who, Which, What, When, Where, and How. 

Tea Research Scientists of University in Zhejiang and Yunnan started the further research in tea since the virus outbreak happened in WuHan, so far the result from testings of EGCG is very encouraging. 

Hopefully we will soon will have more concrete research facts and results.  Till then enjoy a cup of pure quality specialty tea that matches with your health conditions and requirements. 

©copyrighted by Mei Lan Hsiao, 31/03/2020

The Future Is Not a Dream

The future is not a dream, as long as

We work hard when we must

We are doing our best to fulfil our responsibilities and obligations to self, to family and to society;

When we are willing to appreciate for what we have and able to keep our heads up when we can.

Then dreams that we have for the future will eventually realized, step by step.

我們的未來不是一個夢, 衹要我們能夠持續的努力,盡好自己應盡的責任,只耍我們能夠及時的表達我們對生命,對家庭,對社會應有的尊重以及責任,那麽未來的夢一定能夠逐步的實現。

Sharing a lovely Chinese song with my family and all friends

“My Future is not a dream”
sang by Zhang YuSheng

Inspiration from the song:

Are you alike me, keeping head down under the heating sun, working hard silently and sweat?

Are you alike me, busy with searching around, searching for a kind of unexpected gentleness the wholeday long?

Are you alike me, even though have been ignored and mistreated, yet don’t want to give up hopes for what I have hoped for?

Are you alike me, have trapped in the mist alone, feel helpless, feel like standing on the crossroads repeatedly when don’t know where to go?

But,

I don’t care what other people think or say, I consistently hold on the stronge beliefs for love that I have promised to myself.

Because I know my future is not a dream. I manage every minute in life as the best way that I can do.

My future is not a dream when my heart vibrates with hopes.

My life continuously vibrates with hopes because my life is not a dream.

Time won’t Wait

When you are young, beautiful, handsome, strong and healthy, you don’t think or worry about time;the self confidence and desires for having fun in life can drive your hormone crazy that you think you have plenty of time and you can master the game in life.

A perfect and romantic gift to re-validate the wedding vows for love
from Rose D’Avers

Probably you think you have plenty of time to mandate relationship damages later in the future. Or, you don’t realize what kind of impacts from your decisions and action are actually doing to yourself or to others around you? Or you simply don’t care?

“The circle of cause and result never ends, it sometimes is not happening instantly but eventually will happen (因果循环,疏而不漏)”

But what does future really mean? Will time stands still and wait for you? Do you really think you can abuse time because you are young and beautiful now? You really believe no matter what you do, time will show mercy by standing still or you can fulfill your beautiful dreams without consequence in the future? That is the puzzled question to all relationships in life.

Are you still waiting, dreaming and hoping for what you want to have by throwing what you already have now away?

Time won’t wait.

The time is fair and the clock is ticking without stopping. Without knowing the number of wedding invitations in the mailbox are replaced by divorce announcements or funeral invitations.

Just hope it is not too late to realize what is the most important in life is having someone to share a peaceful moment when hairs turn to grey, someone is still sharing the simple loving days even when the face is covered with wrinkles, the back is no longer straight and eyelids are getting heavy.

One who takes time lightly will lose time without knowing; one who takes love for granted won’t find peace in love.

The Moment

Photo shared by @bertjanssens_photography

Just keep #inhale and #exhale, number is not the issue, but how do we manage each breath is.

Life is not limited by numbers of breathing, but how do we #accept, #adapt and #keeptrying.

I am the captain of my soul. Don’t ask the #why, #justdo with a clear #consciousness. Good people never walk alone.

Don’t ask why I am here, because I am already here;

Don’t ask where I am going because I walk on the path I choose;

Don’t ask when my journey will end because I am trying my best everyday without counting.

Moment only last a moment that we can’t redo, just do my best to make best from every moment because it is my duty, my choice, my life.

@

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