The Art of Tea

Want some tea? Tea undoubtedly holds an irreplaceable appeal in Chinese and Asian culture since ancient times. Tea ceremony, literally translated as the ‘Art of Tea’ in Chinese, is often performed to inspire spontaneous poetry and art in China.

The great Tang dynasty poet Yuan Zhen (779 – 831 AD) wrote a ‘one to seven word’ rhythmic poem in the so-called ‘Pagoda Form’ dedicated to the art of tea.

《一字至七字茶诗》
唐 元稹

茶。
香叶、嫩芽。
慕诗客、爱僧家。
碾雕白玉、罗织红纱。
铫煎黄蕊色、碗转曲尘花。
夜后邀陪明月、晨前命对朝霞。
洗尽古今人不倦、将至醉后岂堪夸。

One-to-Seven-Word Tea Verse, by  Yuan Zhen (Tang dynasty)
Translated by Zhao Yanchun

Tea
Balmy leaves, sprouts wee
Appeal to poets, monks and me
The carved jade white, the sleek silk bright,
Baked the pistil yellow hue, twirled the floral curls slight.
Invited to view the moonlit night, and usher in the dawning light
Bathing all the drinkers coming and gone, toasting to the scent that lingers on

The elements and principles of the art of tea could well be dated back to the Song dynasty (960 -1279 AD). Highly sophisticated and aesthetically appealing serving wares from that era still hold the highest value and prestige today.

Jian Ware, Song
Jian Ware, Song

Tea ceremony was first introduced to Japan from China in the 9th century.  Tea ceremony was practiced to foster harmony with nature, self-cultivation and enlightenment.  The aesthetics of tea ceremony developed and evolved further in latter years, characterized by simplicity, naturalism, humility and imperfections.

A modern classic Chinese tea house here is designed based on the tea ceremony principles and elements.

The dry landscape garden or Zen garden is created to be viewed from the tea house. It is a miniature landscape with rock arrangements symbolizing mountains, pruned trees and raked gravel and sand representing ripples in water.

The focus points of the interior, with subdued tone of the moon and pine forest, emphasizing simplicity, restraint and profundity.