Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tea on Thursday 20 : Liquid Jade

Today's tea tantaliser is a book . I am currently reading "Liquid Jade - The Story of Tea from East to West". I am thoroughly enjoying this social history of tea, finding beautiful poetry, funny and fascinating stories, interesting facts and new knowledge about tea and its integral part in the history of  'East meets West' .
Here is an extract from the blurb :
... Liquid Jade's rich narrative history explores tea in all its social and cultural aspects... .  Entertaining yet informative  and extensively researched, Liquid Jade  tells the story of Western greed and Eastern bliss ... also depicts tea's beauty and delights, not only with myths about the beginnings of tea or the lovers' legend in the familiar blue and white porcelain willow pattern, but also with a rich and varied selection of works of art and historical photographs, which form a rare and comprehensive visual tea record... Connecting past and present and spanning five thousand years, Beatrice Hohenegger's captivating and muti-layered account of tea will enhance the experience of a steaming "cuppa" for tea lovers the world over. ....

The chapters have such enticing titles :

And  I leave you with one snippet from  this book - the list is much longer, but I include 5 of the particular"vertues" of tea, outlined by Thomas Garaway, renowned tea merchant in England in the 1660's '
- It maketh the body active and lusty. 
- It helpeth the Head-ach, giddiness and heavyness thereof. 
- It removeth  the obstructions of the Spleen.
- It is very good against stone and gravel, cleansing the Kidneys and Uriters, being drank with Virgin Honey instead of Sugar. 
- It taketh away the difficulty of breathing, opening Obstructions..... 

"Liqud Jade" was first published in 2006, by St Martin's Press. The copy I am currently reading is borrowed  from the Newcastle (NSW)  City Library  and I recommend it to all tea devotees.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tea on Thursday 19 : Felted Tea Pots

hand felted tea pot 
 On the weekend I attended a workshop at Timeless Textiles, with visiting Ohio tutor and master felter, Pam MacGregor. I am  quite happy with my  creation from Finn  and Merino wool supplied by Feltfine, a local wool supplier.  I thought the design I added in merino wool looked quite organic, but I did note with amusement that someone commented that the flat version looked like pastry and jam. For quite some time,  I was doubtful I could make a lid with stopper which would fit, but following Pam's formula it fits perfectly.
teapot ( back) 

flat wet teapot
 Pam MacGregor is an excellent tutor,  talented felt artist and a wonderful and  generous person . When I first saw the photo of her fish teapot ( below) I knew I wanted to do the workshop with her.  Please visit Pam's website and see more of her brilliant felted teapots.
tea pot by Pam MacGregor 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tea on Thursday 18 : Chinese Tea Poetry

"Garden Party" tag inspired by a poem by Wang Wei. 
It would have been  a delight to sip tea in the garden, but ...
Softly closing the chamber door,
 Alone I await you in the empty room. 
You never came. 
Disappointed, I drink solitary tea.       - Wang Wei: An Occasional Poem

During the last year, I have been reading a lot about tea, and especially poetry inspired by tea.
This little verse by Wang Wei is amongst my favourites. However, the most well known tea poem of the same period in Chinese history was written by Lu Tong , a hermit, who was so moved by a gift of tea that he wrote :
The first cup kisses away my thirst,
and my loneliness is quelled by the second, 
The third gives insight worthy of ancient scrolls, 
and the fourth exiles my troubles, 
My body becomes lighter with the fifth,
and the sixth sends word from the immortals,
But the seventh - of the seventh cup - 
If I drink you, a wind will hurry my wings toward the sacred island . 
—Lu Tong (795835 A.D.) (trans. Christopher Nelson*) 

Did he drink the seventh cup? 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tea on Thursday 17 : Tea Bag Stitching

Some experiments of stitching on tea bags ... The one in the middle was  attached to organza and waxed  before stitching, but I don't like the prominent needle marks and I wrecked a needle.  I am happy with the others -left, Lipton black ; right - Cranberry and Apple tea.

Did you know that tea bags were invented  at the turn of the twentieth century by an American tea merchant, Thomas Sullivan who used to send his customers samples of tea in tins, until he started to cut costs by sending single serves of tea in silk pouches. To his amazement, the pouches were very popular when his customers began to drop the whole pouch and contents into a teapot, marvelling at the convenience of making tea with a bag. Soon the accidental invention of the tea bag became popular especially in the USA and in Europe. The first mass produced tea bags were made from fine cotton gauze or muslin, and in the 1950's these were replaced with the paper tea bag. And as they say, the rest is history. Today, Most of the tea consumed is brewed using tea bags. ( Source-  Hohenegger, Beatrice: Liquid Jade)