I have always loved a good book as I sip my tea. The books I would love to introduce you all to are all Japanese Tea themed in nature. Japanese tea and literature has always given me the feeling of a meditation, calmness and serenity. I hope these books give you the same peace as it does for me.
The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura- Written in 1906, I found Okakura enlightening and gave a unique perspective of the time. He was brought up in Japan then was given a thorough Western education as opposed to the traditions of his own culture. He then connects with the traditions and allows us to see and understand the traditions and his opinion of the changes in Japan at the time. Western education had become a priority households and traditions were left behind, this reminds me of the many cultures around us. I am a big history fan, especially with tea and Japan, this book was very moving when he connects the development of tea to the development of art. Two of my favourite things in life together. Tea Life , Tea Mind is written by the former Iemoto of Urasenke. Iemoto is like a father or head teacher of the tea school. He inspired me through his words in this book. He urges us to not only learn about tea but to live it through our daily life. By recalling memories from his life and tales from the life of Sen Rikyu’s Grandson, Sen Soutan. With these stories he breaks them down from their Zen parable like wording to make the reader feel on the same level as him. This book inspired me to focus on the four virtues of Sen Rikyu. Wa (Harmony), Ka(Respect), Sei (Purty) and Jaku (Tranquility). I plan to get each character written down my back as I understand them through tea. The Simplest way of Japanese Tea Ceremony- Japanese Tea Ceremony can seem overwhelming but it does not need to be. This book comes with a DVD video to help you see the steps to making matcha in a very simple way. It takes the bare bones and allows anyone to prepare matcha in no time. I added this one to my collection as it is written in both Japanese and English for all text, it helps me recognize which kanji are for tea and learn Japanese from a unique angle. The One Taste of Truth caught my eye while looking through the Philosophy section at Chapters. One could say that it should have been in the religion section as it deconstructs Dao and Zen proverbs throughout history. As both followings are very philosophical and dense, I will admit it is hard for me to follow the most of the stories with in the book. Although I hope that returning to it again after gaining some wisdom through life will allow me to read it with a new perspective in the future.
Most books can be purchased through Chapters or Amazon, with exception of The Simplest Way of Japanese Tea Ceremony. This one I obtained from Karen Hartwick of Stratford Tea Leaves.
All books are my own and were purchased to further my education of Tea and the traditions behind it.
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Since Teavana acquired Teaopia there was talk about this Great Neighborhood store. I learned some ideas at head office in April, but kept quiet till now for legal reasons.
Now I can talk! It opens tomorrow in the East end of Manhattan. Crested with gold and it combines the ideas of not only Teavana and Starbucks, but the concept of the Tazo tea shop.
I learned a few weeks ago that the Tazo stores were closing down to become this. Originally I had thought that all the Teavana stores were to become Tazo, I was wrong. In the end they came up with this beautiful concept which melds them all together. It is a great work of art.
The store combines the Teavana Mall concept with the cafe or bistro like concept. The foods are beyond what I expected, the colours and ingredients are fantastic. It also looks like Starbucks changed the colour of the cups for Teavana. Design wise it works better for their whole family, the white with the logo. Classic Starbucks design.
In time I can see this fusion of Tea store and cafe popping up more in the tea world. While the smaller stores are possibly in panic, I feel that this addition to the tea world will do everyone some good. The concept is fantastic, I have pointed out how in awe I am of the shop. My question is can Teavana still give provide the essence of tea? For myself the essence is the history, culture and the almost religions aspect that comes with it. What am I getting at?
The staff are given a condensed version of information on tea, in the form of a thick almost two inch handbook, but only on the first few centimeters.. or millimeters of that. Tea is more than just a leisure drink. There is a connection between history, arts and culture that stems from tea itself.
The book written by Kakuzo Okakura, even points out this connection throughout his book. One main line that sticks is ” When will the West understand, or try to understand, the East?”. If we continue to try to find a Western way to enjoy tea, can we really understand it in the end?
One part of this new store that was on the idea list was to have a High End Cast Iron pot. It would be for purchase but would it be enamel lined? The original use for cast iron pots was to use it as a kettle, this can be seen in Japanese Tea Ceremony today.
I feel that the one thing that Teavana and Starbucks can do right now, is offer special classes or even properly educate their staff on tea this would get them on the right track. As, Gyokuro is NOT used to make Matcha (Here is a post on how it IS made).
All images from http://news.starbucks.com/news/teavana-fine-teas-tea-bar-debuts-in-new-york-citys-upper-east-side
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!