Five Element Retreat: Way of Tea and Qi Gong

about this event

MAY 22-28, 2022


Living Tea’s Spring 2022 retreat explores the five elements as a path of self-cultivation, collective cultivation and healing. Drawing from the Taoist tradition, this exploration is facilitated by a deep dive into the Way of Tea, meditation, food, qi-gong, group discussion, and connecting with the elements in ourselves and Nature. Each morning includes guided meditation, tea ceremony, and treks to extraordinary locations in nature for Qi Gong and Way of the Rope practices. Throughout the week we experience the astounding natural beauty of the Telluride valley, including local hot springs, waterfalls, caves, and high-alpine hiking trails. In the late afternoon and evening, we explore practical and philosophical instruction in the Way of Tea, tea brewing methods, further exploration of the daily element, a second practice of 8 Treasures Qi Gong, evening meditation, communal dinner and evening meetings around a fire or under the moonlight.

For Spring 2022, special emphasis is placed on the element of Wood and cultivating true vitality through Taoist medicine. We engage our Wood element when being challenged to change, grow, expand or heal. Wood is the whole movement from where we are to where we need, want, or envision ourselves to be. Wood Energy is best enacted by the Visionary Archetype in us, the one who intuits a possibility and then goes out and does the necessary work to turn that dream into reality. Each element corresponds to a season of the year, and thus by learning the nuances of each element we also learn what it means to align with seasonal changes.

Retreatants can expect to walk away with foundational mindfulness and wellness practices that will enrich and empower their vision for their lives, and provide for an essential foundation in the Way of Tea, Qi Gong, and Taoist Practice. Further, we will develop life-long friendships with like-minded, wonderful people.

“The Five Element Immersion was such a profound foundational exploration of the 5 Elements, Meditation, Cha Dao, Qi Gong and The Way of The Rope all while being immersed in the incredible beauty of the mountains and rivers of Telluride. The facilitators & guides are deeply steeped in these traditions, and the friends you make will be lifelong. Although it’s a fundamental exploration, the dive will be deep and you will leave with wisdom and new practices to incorporate into your life. It will leave you with a new way of looking at yourself and the world around you, and learn ways to live in greater harmony.”– Kristal, August 2021 retreatant

“This retreat is really a week of connection. Connection to self, connection to the one breath breathing all life, connection to the five elements, and connection to all living beings.”– August 2021 retreatant


Each day centers one of the five elements, examining in-depth the psychological, emotional, and physical aspects of the element. We’ll use the Way of Tea, Qi Gong, and movement practices to explore each element, and to learn what it means to integrate this understanding into our daily lives.


  • Check-in between 12 and 2 at Mountain Gate Teahouse (COVID rapid tests will be administered upon check-in as the current climate demands)
  • Introductory Talk, Tea Ceremony, and Outdoor Qi Gong

Monday: The Vision and Movement of Eastern Wood

  • This day will focus on the power of vision and purpose, setting the tone for the rest of the retreat as we explore the Wood Element through the lens of each other element.
  • Includes trip to an ancient Aspen Grove for Qi Gong Practice followed by trek up Bear Creek Nature Preserve for plant identification and nature walk. We will also explore the different genres of tea and introduce many aspects of the wood element.

Tuesday: The Virtue of Fire in the South

  • Includes trip into the mountains to the south, an evening Fire Ceremony, exploration of fire in tea preparation and the appropriate brewing methods related to fire teas.

Wednesday: Nourishing Tradition and Digestion – Earth Element

  • Includes trip to Swing Meadow, overlooking the valley floor, for Rope and Qi Gong Practice. We will examine appropriate teaware for different brewing methods and making your own tea bowl through the practice of centering. Special focus on food to nourish the elements.  

Thursday: The Discerning Method of the Metal Element in the West

  • Includes morning trip to Cornet Waterfall for Qi Gong and movement practice. The afternoon includes a journey deep into the earth through underground caves to connect with the metal element. Discussion on understanding what is essential in a life of tea and cultivation.

Friday: The Watercourse Way of the Northern Springs

  • Includes tea and Qi Gong along the San Miguel River with views of Ingram Falls as well as a trip to local hotsprings to practice Qi Gong and soak. This day focuses on quietude, moving meditation, and brewing methods related to the water element.

Saturday: Integration of the Five Elements

  • The morning will include a 5-Element Tea Ceremony and Qi Gong followed by a talk on living the elements in your daily life. Optional afternoon trek to special spot for final tea ceremony. Saying goodbye and making plans for those who will stay through the weekend.


Dates: Sunday, May 22 (retreat check-in 12-2pm) – Saturday, May 28 (ending 2pm) 

You may wish to book an extra night’s stay before or after the retreat to enjoy Telluride, including the Mountainfilm Festival, running May 26-30. 

Location: Telluride, Colorado (Based out of Mountain Gate Teahouse and Art Gallery

Food: Breakfast and dinner provided daily based on Five-Element seasonal cooking, food as medicine, local harvesting, sustainability, and herbalism 


  • Victorian Inn (check in 22nd; check out 28th)
  • Camping available for reduced rate (see below)

Learn more about accommodations, logistics, and the retreat facilitators at