Tea Culture in East Asia
Tea appreciation is a lifestyle, a fashion, an art, and a culture.
Tea originates in China. In ancient times, it was used both for quenching the thirst and for its medical effects. Tea was once prepared by boiling in the Tang dynasty and whisking in the Song dynasty, while later on it was made by steeping tea leaves in hot water from the Ming dynasty to this day. As methods of tea making evolve over centuries, tea set formats and how people enjoy tea have changed as well. In the meantime, through the introduction of envoys and traders, tea consumption became a part of everyday life in Mongolia and Tibet too. Nomads also developed their own tea equipment and culture.
During the Tang and Song dynasties, Japanese diplomats, student monks, and merchants brought tea back to Japan. The integration with local cultural essence and etiquette gave rise to sadō, a meticulous form of tea ceremony. In the late Ming dynasty, monks from Fujian introduced Fujian-style tea brewing 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 during the late Ming and the early Qing dynasties brought tea culture with them. Today, Taiwanese society not only preserves the tradition of the gongfu tea ceremony from Fujian and Guangdong but has elevated it to the realm of art.
In such historical context, this exhibition is divided into four sections: "Chinese Tea Culture," " Japanese Tea Culture," "Milk Tea of Mongolia and Tibet," and "Taiwanese Gongfu Tea," each showcasing related artifacts from the museum collection. Situational displays, such as the rooms for tea drinking in the Ming dynasty and Japanese tea ceremony, or a table of Taiwanese modern tea practice, are intended to convey the artistic atmosphere of tea appreciation and to present the diversity of tea culture in various areas.