#CBfriends: Gazgolder tea room


The hero of this interview in the #cbfriends section is tea master Dan Yang. We visited the Gazgolder tea house, famous throughout Russia, where Dan told us about the path of tea, the philosophy and meaning of tea ceremonies.

Tell us a little about yourself. How did your journey in tea culture begin?

I don’t remember, to be honest, it was a long time ago...

In fact, of course, I remember. In general, the topic of the Far East has been interesting to me since childhood. When there was still the Soviet Union, everything was a little different, and it was not so widely open and widespread. Martial arts and other things were banned, but around the end of the 80s, when the thaw happened, I, like most girls and boys, began to practice karate and wushu. At that time I didn’t understand anything - who the Chinese and Japanese were, how they differed, but I was interested, I collected newspaper clippings, pasted them into notebooks - maybe they even survived to this day. This topic was especially mysterious and unusual for me, I always felt it subconsciously. Well, and accordingly, since thoughts are material, after a while, in the year 2003, I met our shifu, the “patriarch” of the tea world - Bronislav Bronislavovich Vinogrodsky, who popularized this topic - and the Chinese themselves remembered about tea, and we somehow what they found out.

Tea Master Dan Yang

I got into his movement on a completely different wavelength - I was (and still am) selling art objects and then selling the works of an interesting artist Valerian Bakharev and met with Bronislav Bronislavovich precisely on this topic. This all happened not far from here (from the Gazgolder building on Arma), in the Razumovsky estate - the Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation, where there was a tea culture club of the ICT - Institute of Social Technologies, which was headed by Bronislav Bronislavovich Vinogrodsky. We became friends, and I realized that I had suddenly found myself in some kind of unusual communication, and all my childhood dreams suddenly began to appear in reality. That's where I tried my first tea. I think it was boiled black pu-erh - now we will drink green pu-erh with you. That’s how I got into the tea topic.


This was just the beginning of the wave of spread of tea culture. By the will of fate, I was brought to Nizhny Novgorod, where I came to “baptize Rus'” - to give people tea and treats. It so happened that a friend of mine opened a restaurant there (now one of the most famous restaurants in the Volga region) and invited me. For some time I educated people there about tea, in general, I created a stir in the tea industry.

This is how my journey began - a journey a thousand miles long, but it seems that I was on it. Therefore, when they ask me “how did you come to this,” I answer, “I never left.” Apparently, this is my destiny, as the Chinese say, “min yun” is destiny - after all, I didn’t even think that I would be associated with tea, it happened like a flash, spontaneously, as everything happens in the world.


How did you get into the Gazgolder teahouse?

In the same way - by the will of fate. I hung out in different teahouses, and I had my own projects, and then, in May 2014, we got to know Bronislav Bronislavovich Vinogrodsky better. He had a base on Sadovaya, in Bulgakov’s apartment, where we met Andrei Zuckerberg, the founder of the Gazgolder teahouse, which has existed since the founding of the creative association (more than 10 years ago), then Vasya Basta appeared... Yes, from the very beginning our family has been constantly in motion - a family, because we have such a team of different creative people - a sect in the good sense of the word. And so it happened that already in October I sat down to make tea, although I had visited a tea shop before - Andrey and I agreed that I could use this site for my work, because tea is my tool. Esotericism in the form of long hair and “Om” remained in childhood; in my views, I am a mystical pragmatist and I use all this magic for practical purposes. And the tea environment is a field of communication.


In my life I capture everything through this “movement”. In the Taoist doctrine of world management, this is called the materialization of real plans. We are talking about tea now, but this topic is very close. The Chinese paradigm is unique precisely in that, like a layer cake, it forms a single whole: if you sit down to be in charge of tea, then medicine, and cuisine, and a book of changes, and control of fate, fortune telling, forecasting, and the art of war, and the art of love.

Then we were still sitting in the old “Gaza”, building 1, now, due to the reconstruction of the entire “Arma”, we moved to a new house, well, like new, it is 150 years old, but we have only lived here for 3 years. In general, Andrei offered me a permanent job, I gradually fit in, and together we coexist. He is currently on an expedition in China and should arrive soont.


So, in terms of tea and tea culture, you are primarily interested in China?

What else can you offer? The tea culture of the nearest Asian countries is already secondary. First, the base is China, the rest is the superstructure. Tea grows in India, Georgia, and Krasnodar - the northernmost tea is somewhere in Sochi - but this is completely different.

History is such a thing, people have already forgotten about everything - everything is constantly twisted. China is the birthplace of not only tea, but also many other things that have been used in our civilization since ancient times. Therefore, naturally, I prefer to drink Chinese tea. The rest all carry different meanings. People in general are often quite confused - and lies are mistaken for truth. As Confucius said in his time, names need to be corrected and corrected periodically, because everyone periodically gets confused, concepts become blurred, and this prevents them from communicating meaningfully. And I rarely meet people capable of such communication, there are very few of them, but this is normal - this is the immutability of change, as they say.

The path of tea is long, dating back thousands of years - they began to drink it before they learned to write, and it is China that can be considered the citadel of tea culture. Well, the Japanese are also more or less on board. They are the second who in ancient times adopted the tea culture through Buddhist monks: they also began to drink tea and grow it. The monks, since they were allowed to drink tea for vigils and complex practices, because tea clears vision, condition, gives clarity of mind, in a word, for healing purposes.

Tea Master Dan Yang

What about one of the most intricate Japanese ceremonies with matcha tea?

This is also a Chinese ceremony of the Song era, if I’m not mistaken, when it was fashionable to drink powdered tea - at that moment tea entered Japan. Chinese tea culture is dynamic - they invented a clay teapot, before that they brewed it, now they are creating new varieties, because the fashion for tea is quite active, the tea movement has begun, trade has begun: tea has become a commodity, and expensive teas have appeared - teapots of countless treasures. Ancient Chinese teaware is currently being auctioned at Sothbey's; I heard that a Ming Dynasty teacup was bought for many millions of dollars. The man is now drinking tea from it, and everyone is waiting for it to break.

In general, this is a Chinese theme, not a Japanese one - whisking tea powder. We sometimes brew tea this way in our tea shop, but I’m more for the classics.


That is, if we talk about the teas that you select for yourself, what are they?

This is Chinese tea. I won’t name a specific one - tea is an adaptogen, it always complements you, it is never the same, because every second, every moment you yourself are different.

I’ve never started with green pu-erh, but today my hand reached out and I decided to brew my first tea - this is shen pu-erh from 2015, from old stocks. Quite a good tea - the weather is sunny and bright, so I wanted this kind of tea, it is closer to summer, when there is more yang. There is yin and yang - there is darkness and light, and when there is more light, these teas are great.

I drink mostly oolongs - Wuyishan reserved teas, various cliff teas, pu-erhs, and, perhaps, Guangxi black tea Liupao - fashionable potato, as we call it - cool vintage tea with beneficial microorganisms. Naturally, we drink, both I and Andrey, our own tea, which we bring. We don’t have cheap teas, and there are no buyers for them. Although people compare and say that it can be more expensive, but the quality is worse - it’s a game of “lucky, unlucky.” But we can afford to drink good tea from normal cups.


So, good tea is expensive tea?

Well, yes, like good wine, like good cars, like good food - it is different. Good tea costs money, and with the current surge of interest in this topic, very expensive teas have appeared. In addition, tea is such a mythogenic product, it is completely shrouded in myth and itself, in fact, is a myth. For example, Chinese jade tea has no price. I can tell you about it, you will buy it and be happy, and I will be happy too. This, and without deception, is like a game. There is still a lot that needs to come together here - you must have money, I must have good tea, you must have a desire to buy it, and I must have a desire to sell it, there are many components here.



How can a person who has not previously enjoyed tea learn how to brew and drink it correctly?

Yes, this is not a problem at all, now the Internet is very developed, there are plenty of all kinds of masters there. Then you can gosome training. I myself once taught at a tea school and issued diplomas - somewhere in nature they exist.


But not everything on the Internet is true.

I don’t really listen to people either, because basically it’s a stream of repeated hypocrisy: “oh how nice it is here, you should make a room like this at home” - I’ve heard this a million times, but those who have actually made such a room at home are literally one in a million, the rest everyone is just chatting. But you know, it will always be opened to the one who knocks if you are really interested. Then they will hear you, you will definitely find all the information: you will find out something, you will come somewhere, you will call me. For example, recently an acquaintance was interested in holding events, I gave him the contacts of my friend, who has his own large tea house in the center, not far from us, and everything grew together, communication began - both the sheep are safe and the wolves are fed.

Desires are material, it’s just that no one talks about it, even though the halls are packed and many people talk about this topic, because this “haishu” is a great secret. At night you go out, look at the sky - stars, the universe is spinning there, this is such a world, this is your time and mine.


Are there any specific rules for brewing tea? Is it possible to mix different varieties?

This is everyone's business - as you wish. Ideally, according to the classics, I think, expensive wine or cognac is not eaten or mixed with anything. In order to capture and reveal the integrity of the organoleptic pattern of the product itself - aroma, taste, aftertaste, condition - it is better to drink pure tea without everything, otherwise the meal will lead you away and there will be no tea effect. There will be sandwiches washed down, and then an afternoon nap for half an hour - that’s the whole tea ceremony.

Well, if you are in the know, you can try experimenting. I made some blends myself, I even have notes of old recipes for some special things. Tea is a state, in fact, it gives its own wave, which you definitely feel if you drink good tea carefully. By the way, drink some good tea - I poured it for you.


They consume tea for health and integrity - it is a sacred drink - you can wash down pies, or you can change your destiny.

How do you feel about the fact that modern bartenders and mixologists are increasingly using tea to create signature alcoholic cocktails?

I don’t care at all, it’s their business - they mix and mix, how can I prohibit it? You have to go through some basics: if you are a bartender, then at least you can distinguish beer from cognac, and it’s the same here. But in general, it all depends on what you want to get.

The way you want to see China is how you will see it: on the negative you will vacuum up all the bad things, on the positive all the bright sides will be revealed to you.


That is, we can’t talk about any mixing rules?

Tea is drunk in the classic style. There are tea additives - flowers, mushrooms, but this is already a medical topic: tea in China is also considered in a medicinal aspect, which people must remember. For example, you should not drink strong tea; it has no benefit. Even seemingly harmless tea with lemon can be overdone. Everything comes from ignorance.

At the same time, white tea is very different from red tea in its effects, black from turquoise, green from yellow. There are 6 tea flowers and all are varieties of Camellia sinensis from different growing areas.


In Korea, for example, ginseng, barley, and buckwheat teas are popular.

It is important not to be confused here. This is not tea. Linden, currants, fireweed tea with thyme, ginseng is a herbal drink, decoction. All corresponding representatives of the flora are completely different plants. Tea is tea and must be considered separately. In our language, this is a common noun, this is what causes all schizophrenia; tea is called something that is not tea. Therefore, I am for meaningful communication - speech is not just a sounding exhalation, with the help of it you can broadcast your thoughts, what is sealed in your skull. And the communication process must be clear and precise so that people understand what we are talking about.


And if we talk about tea utensils, do they pay attention to any specific things? Is its appearance, its shape important?

Tea is generally considered in two aspects. The first, mythological (or spiritual), talks about the energy of qi, yin and yang, man and woman, 5 organs, 5 elements, the subtle sacred essence of tea, which, when used correctly, can change fate. That is, you change it yourself, and he gives you certain prerequisites, opens your eyes to certain things, opens closed doors.

In the second, material (or concrete), we are talking about the process of preparation - the posture, the robe that I am wearing, what I say, how I look, how I pour, how I pour, that is, about a certain mastery of gongfu. In Chinese, the tea ceremony is called gongfu, and ceremony is the American name. Like in martial arts, kung fu is not a style, but a skill.

Tea Master Dan Yang

And ideally, the mastery that you possess while on the path of tea is, naturally, the mastery of life. That is, there is no tea as such here if you use it mindlessly. If you remove a person, the tea will disappear, like everything magical, the entire superstructure will simply collapse. It is we, people, who mythologize it, sell it, buy it, drink it. Some Chinese don’t bother at all, they brew tea in a mug, walk around, drink and that’s it. In our dreams they fly on dragons :) So the skill is conveyed through a series of movements, staging - that whole magic. And of course, the paraphernalia involved in the tea ceremony plays a very important role, because tea is a ritual drink; it was originally consumed by emperors in rituals dedicated to heaven and ancestors. I myself periodically pour tea into the cups of these figurines - this is also a kind of ritual, and I know where it is directed - this is a personal, intimate practice.


There must undoubtedly be a certain order of action, movement. Another point is that sometimes people play too much and, without really imagining anything of themselves, they suddenly begin to believe that having learned a couple of Chinese words and brewed tea three times, they are already tea masters with a medal and a crown on their heads. So everything should be beautiful, but not pretentious, because truly beautiful, when a person has some kind of inner vision, feels something, is immediately noticeable. This is my opinion; of course, there will be people who disagree with it. In general, there are such evil sharks in the tea world, I was surprised since childhood - how this could happen. They seem to be doing a good thing, but they are ready to devour each other. Our tea room is different. We call her concept a “swamp” - people come and immediately drown, level out, turn into one “mass”.

There is a certain toolkit for making tea: this is a tea board - the proscenium on which the tea action takes place. There are different figures, characters, stones from different countries and from different continents on it, but, again, this is how our clearing is built - everyone does it in their own way, because this is a kind of altar space. This is basically human nature. If you look at people who work in offices, many of them also have some kind of altars, although they don’t even realize it: they planted a pupa in a cactus, here a pebble, here a crystal - the place where they are constantly located is organized in a special way.

Tea Master Dan Yang

This is our reality control panel - an expensive tea board made of tropical wood. Cups and brewing vessels are used - teapots, clay and porcelain, gaiwan - special cups with lids, sieves to ensure a clean infusion so that leaves do not fall into the tea. I think that aesthetics is very important - the cups should be beautiful, and the master should be well-groomed, combed, and be able to speak beautifully - this is the host of a tea event, a kind of show. But at the same time it’s not important - because the main thing here is tea. It’s like the story with the gym - now they’ll finish it, and I’ll start playing sports. As a result, no health, no gym. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step - there is such wisdom from Lao Tzu, and it applies to all life situations: it is important to act, not to talk. You can talk about the first step all your life, sitting on your suitcases, without ever going on a voyage, or you can just go, and you’ll see, and you’ll find a suitcase somewhere.

It is still important to drink tea, but the more attentively you drink, and the more beautiful the conditions, the greater the impact - I feel this way myself.

Is it difficult to find suitable cookware?

I think it's not difficult. It was difficult when we just started - there were three tea shops in Moscow, and we carried everything with us in backpacks. Nowadays there are a lot of things, you can easily find and buy even on Ali Express, although this, of course, is like buying a cat in a poke - I ordered cups, but chalk arrived :) If you have the opportunity, of course, it’s better to come, touch, look, and You need to be able to work with the Chinese - the press of money and the phrase “how do you do” are not enough for a successful business.


What is special about your tea room? Why swamp?

We call the concept of our teahouse “swamp”, but “swamp” in a good sense: we don’t talk about who is cooler, we don’t have generals, I can even put you at the board - you can sit down and brew. If you try to approach the kettle, sparks and lightning will fall. To meAll the same, I take this simply, because I have been drinking tea for quite a long time, and I am engaged in theoretical aspects - I have studied fundamental, deep philosophical books. And I haven’t clung to the terms for a long time—it’s harmful to teach.

Everyone probably knows our teahouse; without exaggeration, it is the most legendary. It is known both for the creative association in which it is located (the popularity of the guys, of course, plays a big role), and for its atmosphere.

We have a very cool teahouse: there is a live fire (you can count the number of teahouses with a live fire on your fingers), old antique furniture, good tea, and we ourselves are cool - me and Andrey. But Andrei, of course, is cooler - my sifu, the man of my destiny, as I call him. There are three main characters who rocked my humble boat, and he is one of them.


Thanks to the fact that this is the Gazgolder teahouse, that Basta sang “stronger puerchika”, where he mentioned both Tie Guanyin and Da Hong Pao, this wave began to sway - in 2006 or 2007, I was still on my long business trip in Nizhny Novgorod. These teas, of course, immediately began to be sold, since there are few people in the topic, but there are a lot of people interested.

In general, I always select tea individually - I ask who this person is, what he does, what he is interested in. I have always practiced this approach. And I also really like to pack tea, make my own seals, sign by hand - I don’t like printed text - it’s dead, cold phrases about nothing. Some even collect these bags - I still record everything in time, so it’s like living memories.

So you can even buy personalized tea in your tea shop?

Well, only for our own people. We generally have a closed tearoom. It is possible to get into it theoretically, but for this you need to take some correct actions. Therefore, someone looks like a wolf at our windows, knocks and cannot get in, and someone flies in.

But in general, the tea room is more of a communication field for our guys, musicians, who come to visit the label, our friends. From time to time, guys come from other cities, and I accept them whenever possible.


Can you give advice to your colleagues who are just starting their tea journey?

It’s a very difficult question, I don’t want to talk platitudes.

In general, I advise everyone to drink tea, because it is really a very useful thing, it immediately changes something - 150%. It doesn’t really matter whether you believe it or not, I know for sure that this theme works. For me, as a pragmatist, the result is important, and it is obvious: this is a magic potion, useful for healthy longevity. But it’s not enough to just be healthy, it’s important to live a long life correctly and die correctly—to turn off the light yourself when it’s time. This is beyond the reach of most people, but you have to strive. If you do nothing at all, then nothing will happen at all, but to the one who knocks the door will be opened, and for what seems impossible there will be an opportunity.


I would like to wish people to be more restrained, calm, unperturbed and breathe very carefully, evenly, practice breathing practices and drink tea. To love your neighbors, those around you, to help your elders and take care of your younger ones - I again snatched this from Confucius - in general to follow the principle of goodness: to be kind and understand that only those close to you need you, no one else in this world.

Man in general is a lonely creature: you come alone, you leave alone, and at the same time you cannot be lonely - social interactions are needed. Therefore, you need to figure out why you drink tea and comprehend it. You can play without knowing the rules, like a monkey sorting through colored cards, which are actually jack and queen, and you can do something with them. In a word, you need to try to get the maximum benefit from tea and study not even tea, but yourself on the basis of tea, because it reveals dormant abilities and characteristics, affects the feeling of the world and behavior.

In ordinary life, you don’t see these subtle topics, because you are busy, as it seems to you, with the most important affairs of the “selfish little man.” Careful consumption of good tea cultivates precisely the highest qualities of “a great man who acts with conscience and justice.” The wonderful properties of tea are revealed through the body: when tea gets into you, it changes everything at once.


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