Little tea museum

Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage. In China, in the eighth century, it entered the realm of poetry as one of the polite amusements. The fifteenth century saw Japan ennoble it into a religion of aestheticism—Teaism. Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.  The Philosophy of Tea is not mere aestheticism in the ordinary acceptance of the term, for it expresses conjointly with ethics and religion our whole point of view about man and nature. It is hygiene, for it enforces cleanliness; it is economics, for it shows comfort in simplicity rather than in the complex and costly; it is moral geometry, inasmuch as it defines our sense of proportion to the universe. It represents the true spirit of Eastern democracy by making all its votaries aristocrats in taste.

I guess I was around 15 when I read, fascinated, those first lines from Okakura Kakuzo’s Book of Tea. Since then, countless cups of tea have been present in different moments of the day, at breakfast, reading or studying in the afternoon, walking among plants in the terrace, eating a tart, at home or, when travelling, high tea in a glamorous hotel, or on a bunk in a train compartment. Now, I realize that during all those years I have assembled enough items related with tea as to think of them as a little museum.

A teapot bought at Vinçon, 25 yars ago. The lid broke.
A modern style tea, coffee set, through ebay. Nice solid metal pieces, wooden handles.
An Imari teacup, around 1920, fine british china.
A beautiful teapot bought  in a street market in Xian in 2005. A cup with a lid (gaiwan) bought in ChengDu. In some parks, people pay for an amount of tea leaves in a gaiwan. Then an assistant  serves every table with boiling water. People spend there hours, chatting and drinking.
The Gongfu way for preparing tea appears in LuYu’s classic book in the 8th century. A small teapot, around 150 ml, out of Yxing clay if possible, filled with lenough leaves so that they occupy of the volume when expanded by the action of hot water. Infusions are short, around 30 secs for the first cup. Oolongs are the preferred teas for this method.
Two delicate celadon cups.
The MingCha tea collection, to initiate in different Oolongs tasting, Tie Guan Yin, Phoenix,  Wuyi yan cha, also a Puer, a white and green teas. Bought in Hong Kong.  F. Amalfi. Todos los tés el mundo.
If you have been in China you will recognise this flask, and the popular jasmine tea.
The gorgeous iron cast teapots, or tetsubin, that here are selled in fancy shops, in Japan can be found in simple hardware stores!
Tools for preparing the matcha, the bamboo scoop or chashaku, and the whisk or chasen.
A modest raku bought in Kyoto after long deliberation. The picture does not make justice to the subtle tones of granate mixing with black. The container box is a beautiful object in itself.
Indian tea, bought in Varanasi, and species used fro preparing, with milk and sugar, this sweet and specied drink so different from the teas we drink normally.
If some time ago, all russian homes had a samovar for tea, now they have been replaced by modern, plastic models with a thermostat. I could not help buying a traditional samovar made in Tula. I guess I wanted to have the feeling of sharing a tradition.
Two exceptional books, the already quoted Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo, and Luyu’s venerable The classic of Tea.