by Cassandra Vincent
As I sip a ginseng infused maté I reflect on all of the tea and art I have had the privilege of encountering this week. I love encountering art that incorporates tea whether as paint or as subject. This week I discovered two wonderful pieces. The first also incorporates cats so I love it even more! It is called Teacup Ride by the artist Shanghee Shin, who has a definitive style capturing cats in very human forms of play. A colorful piece inspiring the feeling of fun as cats enjoy a teacup amusement ride while some sip from cups. As much as I appreciate the gothic and dark, I am also drawn to pieces that celebrate fanciful worlds and fun that touches the child in me and I can’t help but smile when I look at this piece. http://www.flower-pepper.com/shop/drawing/teacup-ride-by-shanghee-shin/
The second piece was a wild one to describe: monkeys having tea in the middle of a flower with a human face and mouths growing from it. Trippy! It is called High Tea and is by Edith Waddell. Check out the image – I don’t know what is in that tea but those monkeys look like they are having a serious good time. Give me some of that!
(Note: since first seeing this wonderful piece it has been sold, but by all means appreciate it and the artist anyway!) http://www.flower-pepper.com/shop/original-art/high-tea-by-edith-waddell/
Both of these pieces are on display at the Flower Pepper Gallery (www.flower-pepper.com) for this month’s ‘Here Comes Summer’ show through July 5th. If you want to spice up your walls with some tea centric art joy, Shanghee’s piece may still be available. I see that Edith’s has sold. Someone is going to have a happy wall! Shanghee also has prints available.
Here is one more piece from a previous show. I love the artist’s style blending the real and the imagined with touches that look luminescent. It is called The Pot Of Earl Grey by Leila Ataya. Teacup/pot and a sleeping kitty fairy with horns – I want to enter that world.
Wishing you the ongoing joy of great tea and beautiful art.
All mentions are from my sincere enjoyment of them. I was not paid for this post.
by Cassandra Vincent
Tea can open your ability to savor. Savor the moment. Savor a sensation. Savor a taste. Savor a feeling. As tea prep is a process there are many steps along the way where you can practice the art of the savor. I have been practicing with puerh tea. I think it is a great choice because of how many steepings it can take and how the experience morphs through the steepings.
Here are some questions you can ask throughout the experience of making your tea to deepen your awareness of the tea, of the moment and of yourself.
It begins with the dried leaves
What do they look like?
There is a great joy in learning to differentiate the look of a Chinese green tea in comparison to a Japanese green tea for example. Get friendly with the leaves. Are they broken? Twisted? Rolled? Powdery? Long? Short? Flat? Wide? Do they look like a bunch of bug legs in your cup? (seriously, there are many teas referred to as 'spider leg')
What color are they? Greenish? Teak-colored? Dark brown? Black? Mixed?
Do they remind you of anything? An insect? Another plant? A feeling?
What do they smell like dry? This is one of my favourite things. The differentiating of types of tea by their scent. Like perfume, each tea region and type of tea are so very different.
Are the leaves earthy? Floral? Fruity? Vegetal?
Do the scents cause any memories or feelings for you?
The steeping tea
How does the color develop? Is it green? Yellow? Amber? Red? Dark Brown?
What aroma is released from the time the water hits the leaves through to the end of steeping time? Is there any sense memory from the aroma? (Does it take you back to that time on the beach when...)
Then the steeped leaf
What do the wet leaves look like? Do the leaves unfurl? Expand? How has their color changed? What about their aroma? What scents are there that were not present in the dry leaf?
What is the first flavour when the tea hits your tongue? Does the flavour change as it rolls to the back? How about after? If you slurp to aerate the tea does that change the flavour? Does the experience change with subsequent sips?
If this is a tea you have had before is this experience any different than the previous one? Is your palate sensing a greater array of flavor? Did you eat garlic before having this and it is totally messing with your tongue? (If so I recommend using one of these)
How does the tea make you feel? Energized? Mellow? Both? Did you get a tea high? Is your tongue buzzing? Do you just feel better?
Keep record of your tastings
Keeping a tea journal is a great way to build your knowledge of tea and your preferences. You can do this with a basic notebook, but there are some great tea journals out there designed specifically for the tea lover. I have one from TeaSource that is handy and portable. You could even use multiple, one for each tea type you explore.
Tea is a great tool of focus. A moment to appreciate. To reflect on all the energy that went into the tea's creation. To reflect on the memories over a cup of tea. To feel the comfort of it. To expand your experience.
To savor life, lovelies. Every crazy, beautiful, freakish, roller-coaster step of the way.
by Cassandra Vincent
I found a lovely silver teapot in a unique second hand shop for $10! I was ridiculously excited. [Hey, we all have those things that connect us with the awe and joy of discovery - keeping our child-selves alive, well and creating. I encourage it!] I kept myself in check though & didn’t freak out the purveyor. She had 3 teapots, but 2 had damaged ornaments on the lid. The one I bought was in great condition though in need of a clean of course. This find led me to look into silver teapots more deeply. I have always thought them beautiful but not as practical as other forms. The heat conduction (ouch!) and the tarnishing/polishing cycle. I was curious about when they came about, what they looked like, who used them etc.
The engraving on the base indicates F B Rogers as the make and what I understand to be the pattern number of 1960 (not the year of make). It’s not an antique nor is it pure silver, but interesting enough to feel like I have a cool piece. F B Rogers est. 1883 was a silver smithing company apparently known for their quadruple plate silver plating, which gives me an idea of what I’ve got.
Did you know that the first silver teapot was shaped like an early coffee pot? Wider at the bottom, tapering to the top – this was found to be poor for brewing tea as the water in the wider bottom couldn't mix evenly with the water near the top = inconsistent cup. Thus the move to the ‘ball’ shape most often seen today. But there are pear shapes (like the one I found) and urn shapes, apple shapes...all such interesting incarnations (more on images in the 'Go Deeper Details' below).
Silver ware was originally only in the houses of the very wealthy of course, both in Britain and the States. But as demand grew electroplating was created and silver was discovered in the western part of America. There arose a silver making boom in the mid-1800s with Boston being one of the main locations of silver craft in the US. The plating process made silver items cheaper and easier to create and therefore more accessible to those outside them realm of the rich.
As to cleaning here are a couple of tips I learned – some by making mistakes!:
On my silver wish list is a tipping teapot with stand and warmer, and a creamer. Beautiful tea deserves beautiful vessels!
Go Deeper Details
For more on this subject here are a few fun links. Enjoy!:
Great BBC audio on tea in Britain from “ A History of the World in 100 objects” series:
Silver teapots from the Met Museum collections:
Martha Stewart did a great video on various silver teapot forms through the ages. With guest, Ed Munves of James Robinson, NYC with tea services dating from the 17th century both UK and US
All Classic Tea Flavored And Funky For Love Of Tea Herbs Infusions Lifestyle And Health Recipes And Uses Specialty Tea Brands Spices Tea Accessories Tea Adjacent Tea And... Tea And A Laugh Tea And Art Tea And Holidays Tea And Music Series Tea And TV Tea Around The World Tea Cocktails Tea Events Tea In Film Tea In History Tea Innovations Tea Pros Tea Shops/Shops With Tea Tea Types Teaware