After successful careers, Michael Jay Greenberg and his wife, Hiroko Kurosaki, decided four years ago to leave the hustle and bustle of the Bay Area and move to the peace and quiet of Nevada City.
Greenberg, or MJ, made his mark making world music and had numerous CDs to his credit. Hiroko is a certified traditional Japanese cuisine chef. Now, they had decided, it was time to start a family in small-town America.
But they were destined for a retail experience in their new hometown.
While making music, MJ spent 20 years steeped in the ancient art of tea, which included seven years of formal study with a master in the Bay Area and the opportunity to move his private tea room, which led him to open Jade Summit Fine Tea and Antiques at 236 Commercial St. in downtown Nevada City - a location he later discovered was part of the old Chinese Quarter.
“My training was one-on-one with a tea master who helped me immerse in this ancient culture,” MJ said. “It’s a culture that was developed over 5,000 years ago and involves the understanding of tea cultivation and varieties, history, ceramics, poetry, storytelling, meditation, flower arrangement and incense - all referred to as the tea arts.”
The culture originated when tea was the exclusive medicine of Chinese emperors. From its start in China, the tea culture would spread around the world to include
Japan, Taiwan, Korea, India, Africa,
Russia, Great Britain, Europe and now the United States, according to MJ.
“Tea drinking is skyrocketing in the U.S. because of a real tea culture that exists now, meaning people are realizing that tea is more than just a drink,” he said. “The main tenant of tea is that it is a medicine still prescribed in China by herbal doctors for digestion problems, heart health, blood pressure, circulation and as a blood purifier. Even casual tea drinkers can experience noticeable well-being results with only a couple cups a day, even after the first week.”
Part of the culture is the tea ceremony, which can be anything from light and social to a Zen experience. A common thread in any tea ceremony is the connection between people and the ability to be in the moment or “tea here now.”
“The ceremony acknowledges the equality of all in attendance and treats everyone as an equal. They sometimes refer to it as no host, no guest,” MJ said.
MJ procures his teas while making annual trips to Asia where he tries to meet personally with the producers.
“I go to the actual farms and buy the tea directly from the farmer. If I cannot connect directly with a farmer, I am only one person removed from the producers,” he said.
MJ also is picky while looking for the products he sells in his store in Nevada City.
“All of my teas are cultivated by small-scale farms that don’t employ the use of pesticides or chemicals,” he said. “The teas in my shop are rare and include the original tea genome, Puerh, of which human consumption dates back 5,000 years and the plant itself dates back millions of years.”
Michael Jay Greenberg stands behind the counter of his store Jade Summit Fine Tea and Antiques at 236 Commercial St. in downtown Nevada City.
Jade Summit offers a “CommuniTea Gathering” in the private tea room from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sundays and the teas presented are available for purchase.
Reservations are required for all Tea Sittings (which are private only) by calling 530-264-5444. To learn more about MJ and Jade Summit you can visit the store and tea room from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, visit jadesummit.com.