I was delighted to come across an interesting article written by Babette Donaldson for the World Tea Expo.
She touches on many points that we’ve danced around for years here at T Ching. I think you’re going to agree:
“There is art in almost every aspect of tea. Growing, harvesting and processing tea is an art. Beauty and spiritual practice are interwoven into worldwide cultures celebrating tea with artistic expression. There is an art to distributing, packaging, and selling tea to the consumer. And tea – the plant, the beverage and the practice of serving it – has inspired artists, writers and performers for thousands of years.
“What is it about tea that lends itself to enduring artistic and spiritual inquiry?
“Ancient teapots have sold at auction for more than a million dollars. Teapots and teacups are collected and handed down through generations as prized possessions. Artists explore the teapot and teacup as sculptural forms. We find the images of tea in paintings by Mary Cassatt and in the lyrics of The Beatles. The silver screen immortalizes cowboy heroes of the Old West balancing dainty teacups on their knees and Jackie Chan’s dialog is infused with tea quips. The smaller screen allows Jean-Luc Picard a moment of nostalgia for Earl Grey and daytime dramas frequently pose their matriarchs in an elegant moment of tea.
“Many beloved writers were devoted tea drinkers who shared their passion for the beverage. In 1946 George Orwell took the time to pen an essay on brewing a perfect cup. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, T.S. Elliot, Samuel Johnson, Henry David Thoreau, Elizabeth Barrett Browning Ezra Pound, W. Somerset Maugham, Dylan Thomas, Charles Dickens Honore De Balzac and Noel Coward are frequently quoted in praise of tea. From nursery rhymes to classic adult literature, tea is used to set a mood and reveal the subtle nuances of fictional characters. Even in our newest art venues tea is finding a voice. A YouTube Video, “A Cup of Brown Joy” by Iammoog was posted on March 17, 2008 and has now been viewed 444,888 times – bringing quirky humor to the tea table.
“Painting, sculpture, literature and music are all based on iconographic themes that evoke something universal, transcending politics and economics. It is what allows them to survive the test of time. Why have the teapot, the teacup, the infusion and the moment of savoring tea been chosen as one of these enduring themes?
“The business of tea is an art form. One of the strengths of the tea industry is the uniquely creative expression in the design of tearooms. The most successful tea businesses artfully create an environment that lifts us out of our day-to-day schedules and appeal to our sense of delight. Almost 3000 tearooms in the US are listed on three different Internet directories: TeaGuide, TeaMap and Great Tearooms of America. Tearoom-inspired travel is made easier by these directories where tea havens can be located by state and city. TeaGuide adds an international component.
“What is it about tea that brought the beverage and the practices of consuming it to this place in our social fabric?”