The Art of Tea - Historical Tea Art
Tea has a history dating nearly 6,000 years ago. While many beverages have a utilitarian function, or even an emotional one, tea seems unique in its ability to inspire epigraphs of art. Throughout history you can find many examples of tea inspired poetry, philosophy, religion, sculptures, and paintings.
What is it about this plant that inspires people to create masterpieces in many of these artistic disciplines?
In this article we will explore the artistic modalities that tea finds itself intertwined within.
In many of our own tea sessions it is natural to develop a poetic way of speech throughout the experience. While some drinks make you more direct and assertive, tea seems to create a vast space for thought to reveal itself in appropriate time. In many ways this is the pursuit of simplicity. Here are a few examples of some famous tea poems.
Lu Tong's Seven Bowls of Tea 七碗诗 卢仝（唐. 790~835）
The first bowl moistens my lips and throat; 一碗喉吻潤，
The second bowl breaks my loneliness; 二碗破孤悶，
The third bowl searches my barren entrails but to find 三碗搜枯腸，
Therein some five thousand scrolls; 惟有文字五千卷，
The fourth bowl raises a slight perspiration 四碗發輕汗，
And all life's inequities pass out through my pores; 平生不平事盡向毛孔散，
The fifth bowl purifies my flesh and bones; 五碗肌骨清，
The sixth bowl calls me to the immortals. 六碗通仙靈，
The seventh bowl could not be drunk, 七碗吃不得也，
only the breath of the cool wind raises in my sleeves. 唯覺兩腋習習清風生。
Here is another tea poem by Gido Shushin (1325 - 1388)
I received a small brick of tea
And sipping it felt cool; I shall do with the wind as I will
Why should I need paradise?
My whole body is floating amidst the white clouds
Tea inspired paintings:
Tea has also inspired many religious practices especially within Buddhism. Tea was seen as a meditative aid that symbolized the 8 fold path, the transiency of time, and became a medium for helping one focus on the moment.
So whether it is Teas philosophical, painting, poetry, or photography there are many ways to appreciate the art of tea.