Holly introduced me to Japanese green tea ten years ago, almost to this day. It was a sencha, and such was the uniqueness of the mouthfeel and sequence of flavours that I have been intrigued by it ever since.
Being a graphic designer by trade, I was just as struck by the aesthetics.
Here, I am not talking about the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, involving tatami mats, matcha, and a whole catalogue of choreographed gestures passed down the generations. (Although that too is impressive enough.)
I am referring to the simple kyusu, the tea pot with its spout 90º to the handle, and the yunomi, the handle-less vessel to drink from.
The combination of these simple elements along with the bright colours of sencha or kabusecha provide the whole package for a mini Japanese green tea experience whenever it is required (most often in the morning before heading to work).
The act of pouring tea from a kyusu into a yunomi feels special, ritualistic. The process of drinking from the yunomi seems to enhance my focus on the flavours. It is similar to paying attention to the breath during meditation: a cue to be present with the tea (and not to let emails or YouTube videos distract me).
At Chiki Tea, we want to draw people’s attention to the visual beauty of the tea as much as the taste of it. This is why we work with Lera, who runs her own tea blog and company, but also has a keen eye for photography. Lera creates the images for our website and marketing. She constructs “teascapes”, sometimes using props to accentuate the essence of the tea she’s photographing.
Working with Lera has taken my appreciation of the aesthetics of tea to a new level. By creating art out of tea she draws out moments in time. It makes it harder to carelessly throw back the liquid without giving it attention, respect even.
Granted, we might not always be able create a piece of art out of our kitchen table every time we need a cup of tea, especially when in a hurry, but to at least occasionally present it in such a compelling manner creates unquantifiable value as an experience and pays tribute to this fascinating, deep and complex elixir!