Brian Kirbis

Brian Kirbis

Brian S. Kirbis is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz.  Since 2006, he has conducted fieldwork on Pu’er tea in Xishuangbanna, southwest China.  He has presented his research in venues throughout the U.S. and China, including UC Berkeley and Yunnan University.  Brian is the founder of Theasophie, a collaborative research organization comprised of tea farmers, producers, and scholars committed to the tea agroforestry complex of Xishuangbanna and upland Southeast Asia. 

Abstract

Medicinal, Dietary, and Cultural Uses of Tea from Origins to Modernity 

Tea has botanical and cultural origins in the forests and upland villages of southwest China and Southeast Asia, where the earliest cultivators of tea have been referred to as “tea-eating ethnicities.” Historically, edible tea was traded into Southeast Asia, while tea produced for drinking was traded into China. From early origins to global distribution, tea evolves from medicinal substance to food, from beverage to elixir, carrying significant health, social, and spiritual connotations.