Grant Writing: writing process thoughts and tea

It is often hard to write about my own work, art I mean. For over three years I have been playing with  in my work. Tea and art have been two parts of a whole for me since reading Kakuzo Okakura’s The Book of Tea. He has a whole chapter how one effected the other and in turn effected history itself. The Boston Tea Party in 1846 was due to the rise in taxes on tea, which was effected by the Opium War which was caused by a feud between the Chinese and British. Over Tea, to be specific they were selling Opium for gold, to then buy tea and …Tea ware.
    What I am getting at is that these two should be together in any way they can. These grants I am writing have provoked a mind block, which got resolved after a few sessions of  tea. While drinking my Feng Huang Shan Gan 2007,I was then stuck with the idea to look up gender equality in tea producing countries. They are almost on par, each one views women as lower than men. This got me thinking that I could work with this.
   My original work from OCAD worked with gender, bodies and identity. As I began to add tea I got further and further away from this. Till recently, my self-portrait is a good identification that I am ready to go back. Although not without some new ideas and skills with tea. 
   I mentioned many times over at Split/Gender (my former art only blog, which was all transferred here) I mentioned making notes on the hues achieved with tea. I started this process and it will be useful for my grant work. The “blue” or “indigo” on my self-portrait was made with berry/hibiscus based infusions. It started out purple and turned this colour. I hope to find a way to preserve this colour in the future but for now I need to work with it. Till next time, Keep Steepin’ on!

Spring Teas at Tao Tea Leaf

With thirteen teas in all it took a little over 2 hours to go
through them all.  Tao steeped most of
the teas using a Professional Tea Tasting sets. Each set consists of a cup with
a lid and a small bowl. This set works similarly to a gaiwan when a fair cup is
used with it.  In competitions and for
tea merchants this is the set that is used to pick the teas which win or get
purchased.

Tao brewed the teas for us using these sets in a certain
manner. If you have been part of a Chinese tea ceremony before, you will recall
a part where the leaves are added to a warmed vessel and shaken. This releases
the aroma of the tea. Tao used the Tasting set in this manner during our tasting.
It increased the intensity of the teas aroma for us to determine which teas to
purchase in the end.

            After this step Tao then added more
water to steep the leaves. After sufficient time the cup set was turned into
the bowl to catch the brew. Once all the tea had left the cup some leaves were
placed on top of the overturned lid to display the leaves. We then used a
Chinese soup spoon to spoon the tea into our cups.  This worked especially well for the lighter
teas such as the Silver Needles.

            At this very moment of finishing up
this post I am enjoying a cup of Jun Shan Yin Zhen, a yellow tea.  Yellow tea production is just about one step
further from white tea, because of this additional time most places do not
produce yellow tea. As well the way to create such tea is not being passed down
from lack of interest from current generations.

 To explain the extra
step required to make this tea, white tea is let to ferment covered which
changes the colour of the tea to a “yellow” hue. Te resulting tea when steeped
has a bit of a “fermented taste” which comes across as a little spicy as
well.  For those of you who want a
lighter tea but has a bit more body then certainly try this tea out before this
tea disappears.

            Tao has two big tastings a year,
spring and for the Anniversary of his shop. Look out for the Anniversary
tasting outing in December! Support your local tea shops in your area by
checking out this year’s spring teas.

            Here is the list of teas we sampled:
Silver needle Top grade, Silver needle old bush,  Jun Shan Yin Zhen, Anji Bai Cha, Bi Luo Chun,
Long Jing, Phoenix Dan Cong- Honey Orchid, Tie Guan Yin, Jin Ping, Purple
Puerh, and Shui jing gui.  

赤壁 (Red Cliff) – Tea Media

         Red Cliff became one of my favorite 2 part movie about 2-3 years ago. I was wandering through a few tea blogs and found out that tea is made (what looks like) Lu Yu Style. Quickly I sought out a copy and watched it, many times. Wikipedia’s description is as thus:

Chinese epic war film based on the Battle of Red Cliffs (208-209 AD) and events during the end of the Han Dynasty and immediately prior to the Three Kingdoms period in ancient China. The film was directed by John Woo, and stars Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhang Fengyi, Chang Chen, Hu Jun, Lin Chi-ling and Zhao Wei.

 Xiao Qiao is very skilled tea maker. I was quite taken by her calm description of how to brew tea to Ciao Ciao. Stressing the importance of seeing the stages of boil and knowing when it is ready, and not past its prime. Here are some images of her skills, but be sure to check out the full two part movie.!!

Warming up the tea before scraping needed amount

serving the tea

Ciao Ciao tries the tea
Shallow open cups allow the once boiling water cool.
The brew.