The Vintage Art of Tea

If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty. ~Japanese Proverb

Tea is the world’s most popular beverage, just behind water. And in the United States, it ranks number five – but in recent years, tea – especially green, rooibos and herbal teashas been rapidly gaining on juice, coffee, and soft drinks. More people seek exotic, hand-blended, loose teas, carefully evaluating everything from the quality of the leaves to the fragrance – and of course, the taste.

But what about the tea service?
If you don’t settle for ordinary tea, why settle for an ordinary teapot and cups? Your tea service can reflect the ancient, serene and beautiful culture of the people who started the whole thing!

A brief history of chanoyu.
The Japanese took the idea of drinking green tea from the Chinese, and by the 8th Century had elevated it to an art form. By the 14th Century the samurai and gekokujou (nobles) were playing “Guess That Tea” games, which involved valuable prizes. But Sen Rikyu gets the credit for refining the etiquette and spirit of the ceremony we read about today.

Tea is drunk to forget the din of the world.  ~T’ien Yiheng

So simple, it’s a lifelong pursuit.
Sen Rikyu said that tea is nothing more than boiling water, making tea and drinking it — it is this simplicity that makes the study of Chanoyu a lifelong pursuit.

A vintage tea set can help you find your own Chanoyu.

Antique Moriage Nippon Tea Set Photo courtesy of BarbsBurntTree, Etsy

Antique Moriage Nippon Tea Set. Photo courtesy of BarbsBurntTree, Etsy

They’re plentiful, and available in a wide range of quality, design and prices. You can choose from dramatic Dragonware, delicate Satsuma or the more affordable and collectible lusterware.

Handpainted Lusterware Japanese Tea Set. Photo courtesy of On Winston Lane, Etsy

Handpainted Lusterware Japanese Tea Set. Photo courtesy of On Winston Lane, Etsy

And you don’t even have to learn the proper chanoyu ceremony, which includes bowing, proper cleansing of the tea service, and actual drinking etiquette.

Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company.  ~Author Unknown

Simply dim the lights, pour that fragrant brew and transport yourself back to a game of “Guess That Tea” – or a moment of serenity that would put a smile on Sen Rikyu’s face.

About sarathurston

I'm a marketing communications writer who also loves antiques and collectibles. You can find my shop on Etsy at
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2 Responses to The Vintage Art of Tea

  1. Pingback: The Vintage Art of Tea | barbsburnttree

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