“elixir of mortality”

12 May

Tea Time Green by Erin Jane Shop at Etsy.com

I have read* that other culture has celebrated tea “with the diligent fervor of Japan and England.” From that same reading I learnt that Zen monks of Japan cultivated the Chinese tea plants to keep them awake during their moonlight meditation sessions, which later led to a more formal tea ceremony called chanoyu, encouraging guests to savor the moment while sipping. The mood is quiet and every “movement is prescribed, from palming the tea bowl just right to murmuring a few compliments on the decor as the tea master serves his guest.”

Now, if that sentence didn’t run on long enough for you let’s hop continents to Europe. The ceremonial tea service was based more on delicacy rather than Murata Shuko’s (the monk who founded the humbling chanoyu ceremony) destitution. Ann Stanhope, seventh Duchess of Bedford formalized the England’s traditional afternoon tea. She would invite ladies to her boudoir for tea and thin toasts by 5PM each night. Tea was very expensive due to high taxes during the 1600s.

By the 1830s India brought tea prices down to reasonable cost but it was still kept as a precious commodity. The china of a “true Victorian lady was ‘dainty,’ noted one etiquette guide, ‘and the tea-cozy should be pretty and handsomely decorated with embroidery.” The duties of the tea master was set to precise rules from always asking, “Do you take sugar with that?” to instruction on how to brew and how to pour.

Both Japan and England has made tea service a form of art and lucky for Californians we have plenty of venues prepared to serve:

Crown and Crumpet in San Fran

Paddington Tea Room in Los Angeles

Scarlet’s Tea Room in Pasadena

Afternoon Tea in the Living Room in BevHills

Heritage Tea House in Riverside

*Jessica Kerwin Jenkins wrote Encyclopedia of the Exquisite: An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights. Your cup will runneth over with elegance and beautiful illustrations of histories about luxuries to the perfect omelette.

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