Here is the interview with Alex Lozowski, tied for winner of the First Annual Haiku Contest. Alex is a junior at the University of Oregon, in Eugene.

What kind of tea are you drinking these days?
Honestly… I’ve been neglecting fair Camellia Sinensis for the stronger rush of French-pressed Yerba Mate. On the occasion I do want some tea, I have a bag of fukamushi sencha that I’ve been drinking for some time now.

What is your favorite tea ritual?
Usually I’ve been drinking tea while I do homework or readings, but if I have time, I like to either people watch from my balcony, or sit back, brew an entire pot of tea, and meditate upon Kind of Blue.

Where does one go in Eugene, Oregon, to drink whole leaf tea?
I haven’t gone out for tea for a while, most coffeehouses stock bagged tea; I’ve been getting tea from either the Asian markets in town, or the many natural food markets in town.

How did you come to drink tea instead of Rock Star or Starbuck’s?
I’ve been drinking tea for a long time now.. I am part Japanese, so my mom always had some whole leaf green tea on hand, of all different kinds. I also despise Starbucks, and I’m a cheapskate, so on the occasion that I want some coffee, I have also learned to pour a delicious French Press (Currently, I’m trying different kinds of beans from Café Mám, an importer based in Eugene that brings in delicious Fair Trade organic coffee from Chiapas. ) I try to keep away from most energy drinks, although Viso is pretty delicious.

Besides writing and translating haiku, what are your other passions?
Right now I get really excited by independent hip hop. So many people in the USA and worldwide never give Hip Hop the chance it deserves because of the poor quality (in my opinion) of the Hip Hop music that gets public exposure, radio play, etc.. The diversity of viewpoints and messages in Hip Hop is often overlooked because of the shallow selection offered through public mediums. I’ve been ‘schooling people’ in Hip Hop lately, introducing them to artists like Talib Kweli (Check out his newest album “Ear Drum”, he has a great collaboration with Norah Jones), Jay Dee (a TRUE master of beats, a producer who left FAR too early from a combination of TTB AND lupus), Madlib (who also is a prolific Jazz musician under the Yesterday’s New Quintent moniker), Common (Whose best album, IMHO was produced in collaboration with Jay Dee, “Like Water for Chocolate”), The Roots, Saul Williams (closer to beat poetry/spoken word), and KRS-ONE (A.K.A. The Teacher, from the Bronx, originally a founding member of Boogie Down Productions, who released one of the first Gangster rap albums in 1987; after the shooting of the group’s DJ Scott La Rock only months after their first album, )KRS has changed his viewpoint completely, and now represents a conscious viewpoint within Hip Hop. I got the opportunity to go to a free (!) lecture by Kris about Hip Hop at Lane Community College, and he definitely opened my mind to the possibilities in this sadly underrepresented genre.

What advice do you have for the editors at T Ching, as we try to get the public to drink more tea?
Keep being very outspoken about tea whenever people ask; other than that I’m not sure, all of you seem to be doing a great job so far!

Is there anything else about you that we should know?
I am applying for my Asian Studies major this fall, and hopefully I will go to Japan as part of the JET program after I graduate!