We have received a number of questions from people asking why design is part of our tagline. “What does design have to do with tea?” We thought we would share our perspective on that.

Tea has over a 4,000 year history infused with art and design. There has been wonderful prose and poetry extolling the Art of Tea. Paintings, depicting the relationship of tea with the good life, have adorned the walls of Emperors and Kings for millennia. The very design of teaware is created to enhance the experience of drinking tea.

Art and design can also be found in the tea itself. The shape and color of the fresh leaf and the beauty found in the way the leaves are carefully handpicked by generations of family members living and working on a 400 year old tea estate. Examine a handcrafted tea like Gung Pin Yu Luo. Put it in a small, shallow white porcelain bowl and look at it closely. Look at how the tea leaves are individually twisted to create a magnificent shape and design. Steep it and look at the color of the liquor. Breath in the heady but light fragrance of the jasmine before and after steeping. Taste it. This is the way art and design manifests in everyday life. We just need to take the time to stop and appreciate it fully.

There is great tradition in tea; but there is also room for new innovations of design and art in the way we interact with tea in our lives. There are some wonderful new designs in teaware and tea accessories that are both beautiful and innovative. Look at the new designs from companies like Bodum and Adagio. More and more companies are embracing design and innovation in helping us to enjoy and appreciate our tea experience more fully.

T Ching will continue to feature the writings and creations of artisans whose hand crafted pots and cups are functional works of art. We believe that these beautiful tea accessories should be used daily, allowing art to enhance our day to day experience. Many people save their special hand made pieces for display or take them out a handful of times for special events and holidays. We believe each day, and each cup of tea is a celebration of life, nature and beauty.

Coming from a health care background, we’ve learned that health and wellness encompasses many things. Beauty is all around us. Appreciating it has the potential to raise our consciousness and help keep us healthy. Dr. Viktor Frankl, a world renowned psychiatrist, told the story of his survival in a Nazi concentration camp. He stated that, in an effort to endure the atrocities that surrounded him, he sought to discover any remnants of beauty that he could find. He was able to appreciate beauty in a floating fish head in a bowl of dirty water, which was meant to be his meal for the day. We are surrounded by beauty everywhere, yet live our lives at such a hurried pace that we don’t take the time to see what is all around us. Design plays an integral role in objects of beauty, be they crafted by Mother Nature or by man/woman.

We welcome and encourage innovation in the tea world, but we also continue to embrace the traditional elements in the Art of Tea. There is great beauty and design in all.