Permanent Exhibition / S202
The appreciation is a lifestyle, a fashion, an art, and a culture; it is a shared language of tea connoisseurs. The originated in China, and methods of tea making have undergone centuries of change, as have the equipment and the manner in which the tea has been enjoyed.
In ancient times, tea was used both to quench the thirst, and also for its perceived medicinal qualities; during the Tang and Song dynasties, it was brewed by boiling then it was sipped gently. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, tea was brewed by infusing tea leaves in extremely hot water, and appreciated in leisurely surroundings. Following the introduction of tea by Chinese diplomats and traders to Mongolia and Tibet, tea consumption became a part of everyday life there too. As a result of increased demand for tea in these regions, a network of caravan paths known as the Ancient Tea Horse Road developed. These nomadic groups also developed their own tea equipment and culture.
During the Tang and Song dynasties, Japanese diplomatic missions to China, student monks in China, and travelling merchants, introduced the appreciation of tea to Japan where it was integrated into local culture. Japanese tea ceremony etiquette thus developed, giving rise to sadō, a meticulous form of tea ceremony practiced there. In the late Ming dynasty, monks from Fujian introduced Fujian-style tea tradition and Yixing tea ware to Japan. The combination of tea drinking and scholarly conversation soon became popular among intellectuals, and developed into tea ceremony known as senchadō.
Immigrants from China to Taiwan and to Southeast Asia during the late Ming and the early Qing dynasties carried tea culture to those regions. Today, Taiwanese society not only preserves the tradition of the gongfu tea ceremony from Fujian and Guangdong but has also created a new local tea culture which reaches to the realm of art. According to the Zhuluo Xianzhi (Gazetter of Zhuluo County), there were uncultivated tea trees in central and southern Taiwan, suggesting that the climate of Taiwan was suitable for their cultivation. Tea merchants brought tea seeds and production methods from southern Fujian, and continued to improve the methods of cultivation. The 1980s saw the yielding of gaoshan (high mountain) tea, and it was largely planted in central Taiwan’s mountainous areas.
This exhibition follows the course of development outlined above. It is divided into three sections, "The Homeland of Tea: Chinese Tea Culture," "The way of tea: Japanese Tea Culture," and "The Enjoyment of Tea: Taiwanese Gongfu Tea." Selected artifacts from the collection of the National Palace Museum are showcased to illuminate Asia’s many unique tea cultures and approaches to tea appreciation. Through the situational of the Ming teahouse, the Japanese tearoom, and the modern tea presentation table, the visitor is introduced to the atmosphere of tea appreciation in different settings. This exhibition is intended to inform viewers of the dissemination and interchange of tea practices among different Asian regions, and to demonstrate their distinct yet related tea cultures.