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Rivers & Lakes is a transliteration of the word 江湖 Jiānghú,
a concept alluded to in kung fu fiction describing a liminal territory beyond laws, where the honed individual's skill and integrity may be their only currency
Hello friend, I’m Gus. I created and operate this sourcing project.
For many years now, Rivers & Lakes has been providing specialty leaves to our tea community from small family operations I’ve been fortunate to personally connect with during trips to Asia. It fills me with great purpose to assist people’s appreciation of this ancient tradition by creating unique sourcing channels and providing small batch, highest quality productions that are supportive of each tea family and the continuation of their heritage. These families are all dear friends and it gives me great pleasure to tell their stories, document their tea production methodology, and delight in their outstanding craftsmanship with you.
In 4th century BC, taoist philosopher Zhuangzi  庄子 first conceptualized Jianghu:
泉涸,鱼相与处于陆,相响以湿相濡以沫,不如相忘于江湖
“When the springs dry up and the
fish are left stranded on the ground, they
spew each other with moisture and wet each other down with spit — but it would be much better if they could forget each other in the rivers and lakes.”
This original conception of Jiānghú gave reference to an archetypal liminality where two meet in a necessary exchange of gritty intimacy, only to have this interaction best forgotten if they return to normalcy (within society; 'the rivers and lakes'). This eastern allegory of the liminal has been adopted to not only describe a zone inhabited by traveling kung fu heroes in ancient times, but of aesthetic hermiticism, of counterculture society beyond cities and laws, as well as the unregulated world of trading for an enigmatic authenticity in tea...

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