Often cited as the first region to plant tea leaves, China’s obsessions with steeped drinks goes back millennia, and flourished in the Song Dynasty (960-1279 BC).
At that time, tea was very fashionable, and not only for drinking. From peasants to nobles, people began practicing, and sometimes competing, in tea arts. The practice of making tea art was depicted in many poems and paintings of the era, such was its popularity.
Tea arts involve whisking tea into foam, which then becomes the canvas that the artwork is delicately drawn upon. Ground tea powder is put into a small bowl of hot water, then whisked with a fine bamboo brush until it becomes a rich foam, pale in color. Words and images can then be applied to the foam with a paintbrush.
Even though popularity dwindled after the Song Dynasty, it lived on in Japanese tea ceremonies and is now flourishing again here in China, where schools in Shanghai’s Baoshan district are popularizing it among teenagers with lessons and tea art competitions, as seen in today’s video.
As China continues modernizing, it’s important that the youth learn these aspects of their cultural heritage, lest they be forgotten to time. With tea art, we can pass on a delicate form of expression that is uniquely Chinese.
Editor: Zoey Zou
Camera: Zhang Yuyang