Saturday, June 30, 2012

Floral Tisanes

Soaked in hot water, dried herbal flowers restore their beauty they once had, bringing you a touch of nature. You will feel relaxed and comfortable with the herbal flower tisanes... What a good thing it is to enjoy the rare flower tisanes with a favorite book or a couple of bosom friends!
With the boredom that can come from city living, a person will sometimes look for something a little different to spice up an otherwise dull day.
The usual coffee, tea, wine or coco drinks become passé. I want something fresh, something from nature.
It is spring finally, a friend comes and brings me a gift - a caddy of herbal flower tisanes. At night, alone, I make a cup of the tisanes for myself...picking up several tiny flowers and a bit of tea, putting them in a glass pot and adding in some boiling water.
After a brief wait, clear golden tisanes flows from the hand-warming pot. Tender fragrance of the flowers overflows within my throat with every mouthful. Looking at the tiny flowers and leaves floating in the pot, I suddenly have a beautiful feeling.

It is because, I know, that what I have drunk is not only from the flowers and their fragrance but also the sunshine, rain and dew as well as the natural nutritious components in them. With all of them in my body, I feel so warm and comfortable that it seems to me as if the dryness of spring has left me. Just at that moment, I fall in love with the herbal flower tisanes.

There are more and more reasons for the tisanes to be loved since every kind of flower or plant included has its own health care function. For instance, the rose can invigorate blood circulation so as to make one look younger, lavender relaxes nerves; chrysanthemum relieves internal heat or fever, to mention some examples.
Keeping Fit and Beautiful with Herbal Flower Tisanes

What is herbal flower tisanes?
The tisanes is made of the dried parts of all edible plants --- roots, stem, leaves, flowers and skins --- and, with or without tea leaves, it is called herbal flower tisanes.

The history of herbal flower tisanes is long and people have studied it since ancient times in both China and Western countries. A drink which has been popular among people for many years, this tisanes does not contain caffeine, has a low content of tannin and calories but is rich in vitamins and minerals.
It is considered beneficial to the promotion of good health and for hundreds of years people have used it as a mild auxiliary therapy. Most of the time, it has no side effects.
(Source: Women of China English Monthly)
By Explore Cultural China

Friday, June 29, 2012

Cold beverages in ancient China

Cool drinks originated in the Shang Dynasty about 3000 years ago. At that time, rich and powerful families would store blocks of ice in winter for relieving summer heat in the next year. In the Zhou Dynasty, there were special officials in charge of ice affairs. In the late Spring and Autumn period, ice had more applications. The feudal lords liked to drink iced rice wine at feasts. It is mentioned in Chuci that iced rice wine tastes sweet and cool, which shows that the techniques for making cool drinks at that time had reached a very high level.
Ice products started being sold openly from the Tang Dynasty. A story tells of an ice seller who hoarded ice as a rare merchandise and intentionally raised the price. The customers were so angry that they all walked away. Shortly after, all of his ice melted. In late Tang Dynasty, the merchants would add sugar in ice to attract more customers.

Cool drinks developed very fast in the Song Dynasty. There were a great variety of cool drinks, and specialty stores appeared. Ice stores in Bianjing (present Kaifeng) of the Northern Song Dynasty had started selling sweetened and iced balls, and the iced plum juice in particular had a unique flavor. The painters even draw pictures about the scene of selling cool drinks. 
From the Yuan Dynasty, new breakthrough brought about the appearance of ice cream. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, a number of delicious cool drinks appeared one after another. The Dream of Red Mansion has records of plum juice, rose syrup, fragrant flower syrup, herb tea, and thick rose juice, etc.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Herbal Tisanes

Cool herbal tisanes is a drink made from decocted  herbs and flowers that are cool in property or capable of removing internal heat from the human body. The beverage is made to drive away the heat inside the human body in summer or to cure the sore throat caused by dryness in winter and other illnesses. Actually, cool herbal tisanes is not “tisanes” in the general sense, but the decocted Chinese herbal medicine soup. And cool herbal tisanes may not be cold in temperature as it works better when taken hot. The tisanes is for heat-clearing, detoxifying, lung clearing, dryness moistening and relieving heat.
Since ancient times, people in  China have been drinking cool herbal tisanes. For them, the tisanes is an indispensable part of their life, because they think “water is the source of life and cool herbal tisanes is the source of health.” The herbal medicines used in making the cool tisanes are effective in removing the toxic elements of the human body, boosting immunological competence, curbing germs and viruses, regulating the body and softening the skin. The tisanes can serve as a cold drink in summer.

There’s a wide variety of cool herbal tisanes drinks to choose, such as mulberry and chrysanthemum, lotus leaf drink and fresh lotus root drink etc. Each drink has its own effect.
The profound culture and special effect of cool herb tisanes has made it a unique drink.

By Explore Cultural China

Monday, June 25, 2012

The custom of having Chrysanthemums as food

In many places of China, it has been made a custom to have chrysanthemum as food. With sweet scent and soft and refreshing taste, chrysanthemum is a fine choice for dishes. It can be eaten fresh, dry, raw or well-done, and cooked in almost every means. It also tastes good when shredded and stuffed into chrysanthemum cookies and dumplings. Chamomile and white chrysanthemum are usually adopted for making food, especially the latter one. For example, the Hangzhou White Chrysanthemum, Tribute Chrysanthemum of Mount Huang and White Chrysanthemum of Fushan are all of top grade.

By Explore Cultural China

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Chrysanthemum and Chinese Wolberry Tisanes

The tisanes is a mixture of chrysanthemums and Chinese wolfberries.
Add 10 grams of White Chrysanthemum and Chinese wolfberry each into a big teapot, then add some hot water and steep for ten minutes.
Chrysanthemum  heat, resolving toxins and improving eyesight. High-doses of chrysanthemum can lower blood pressure and has great curative effect for chest distress, palpitations, short of breath, dizziness, headache and limb numbness.
Chinese wolfberry serves to nourish  and supplement blood while replenishing vital essence to improve eyesight. Meanwhile, it can lower the blood glucose level as well as cholesterol in blood and avoid artery atherosclerosis, thus preventing the coronary artery disease.

By Explore Cultural China

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wild Chrysanthemum

Also named Shan Juhua, Lubian Ju, Ye Huang Juhua, the Ye Juhua (Wild Chrysanthemum) is found in most provinces of China on wild hillside lawns, in the bushes or by the road. It assumes analogous sphericity in shape with yellow green or brown yellow color, sweet aroma and bitter taste. The best breed are the yellow ones without stalk, but with sweet aroma and intact flowers in half blossom.

By Explore Cultural China

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tribute Chrysanthemum

Also called Tribute Chrysanthemum of Mount Huang, or Huizhou Tribute Chrysanthemum, the Tribute Chrysanthemum is ranked among the Four Famous Chrysanthemums in China together with Hangzhou White Chrysanthemum and Chuzhou Chrysanthemum. It was a tribute to emperors in ancient China, hence the name. Growing in the vast land of Huangshan City, Anhui Province, or the ancient Huizhou, it is endowed with advantaged natural environment which nurtures the quality tisanes integrating fine color, aroma, taste and shape. Rich in both ornamental value and medicinal function, it is thus famed as a fine medicine and drink, as well as a famous specialty of Mount Huang.

By Explore Cultural China

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hangzhou White Chrysanthemum

Also called chamomile, the Hangzhou White Chrysanthemum is a traditional medicinal plant in China, and one of the “Zhe Ba Wei”, or eight famous crude drugs of Zhejiang Province. The modern pharmacology has proven that it can treat dysentery, diminish inflammation, improve eyesight, lower blood pressure as well as reduce fat and strength the body. It can be used to treat icteric damp-heat, stomachache and anorexia as well as edema and oliguria.

By Explore Cultural China

Friday, June 15, 2012

How to drink Chrysanthemum tisane

Chrysanthemum tisanes can be enjoyed in many ways according to different needs.
Chamomile with pleasant faint scent, or especially the White Chrysanthemum produced in Suzhou and Hangzhou, is a good choice for making tisanes. Put four or five granules of tea leaves in a transparent glass, which is a best choice for steeping chrysanthemum tisanes, add some boiled water and you can enjoy it in two or three minutes. The tisanes liquid may gradually become yellowish after a while when the water is cooler. Remember not to drink it up at a time, but to leave 1/3 in the glass and add some new water for drinking after a while.
You can also add some sugar candies into the chrysanthemum tisanes to bring out a sweeter flavor. Actually no other tea is needed when preparing the chrysanthemum tisanes. It is a good drink for both summer (hot beverage) and winter (icy beverage), and all you need to do is to steep or boil the dry chrysanthemums.

By Explore Cultural China

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Chrysanthemum Tisanes

Chrysanthemum is a famous flower found everywhere in China. It is rich in varieties with light and pleasant fragrance and extraordinary functions. Since it is a common flower as well as a medicinal food, the Chinese has kept the practice of watching and tasting chrysanthemum ever since thousands of years ago. Among all breeds, the white chrysanthemum can be made into a drink called chrysanthemum tisanes, while sometimes tea leaves are added so as to blend the flavor.
The most famous breeds shall be the Hangzhou White Chrysanthemum produced in Tongxiang City, Zhejiang and the Tribute Chrysanthemum of Mount Huang (or Huizhou Tribute Chrysanthemum) at the foot of Mount Huang. The Tribute Chrysanthemum of Mount Huang in particular, which grows on the high mountain, is a healthier drink for modern people since it's not contaminated at all. When choosing the flower, those laymen may favor the big white ones among rich varieties, but in fact the small, ugly and yellowish ones are the best choice instead.

The effect of chrysanthemum tisanes is also elaborated in the book Compendium of Materia Medica: it's slightly cold in nature with sweet flavor and the effects of dispelling wind heat, suppressing hyperactive liver and improving eyesight. The modern medicine science have also proved upon research that chrysanthemum can help to lower blood pressure, remove cancer cells, expand the coronary artery and prevent bacterial contamination. Long-time drinking of the tisanes can help increase calcium in human body, regulate myocardial function and reduce cholesterol, which is especially good for people at middle or senior ages or for preventing the epidemic conjunctivitis. It's also good for eye dryness caused by irascibility or excessive use of eye. Meanwhile, the chrysanthemum tisanes is rich in aroma and refreshing, which also helps to relax and relieve headache.

By Explore Cultural China

Monday, June 11, 2012

A unique tea custom among women

Wuyi Mountain in Southeast China is where the famous Oolong Tea is grown. Since ancient times, people who live in Wuyi Mountain have been good at growing, making and appreciating tea. Accordingly, many tea drinking customs evolved with time. A unique custom only observed by women exists in Wutun village in the Wuyi Mountain area.
The women's tea drinking custom here differs a lot from those in other places. Instead of drinking tea out of small teacups, the women use big bowls. The tealeaves they use to make tea are nothing extraordinary, and they boil their tea in a large teapot.
What sets their tea drinking ceremony apart is that only women are allowed to take part in. They take turns to host their tea drinking parties. On such an occasion, the hostess will prepare dishes for others to taste, displaying her talent in cooking.
They made toasts to each other using tea instead of wine while they talk. In the past, they had only dishes with tofu, peanuts and so on. With the development of the economy, their tea banquets have become much more elaborate.
This tea drinking custom not only helps women communicate among themselves, but also promotes peace and harmony in their neighborhood. It functions as a women's committee. It is said that this women-oriented tea custom has been around for more than 1,000 years here in the Wuyi Mountain area.

By Explore Cultural China

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Ideal Zisha Teapot

There is a long history of drinking tea in China. Ancient scholars used to drink tea together and regarded it as a great fun. Drinking tea played an important role in the lives of ancient people.

In the Tang dynasty, there was no difference between tea wares and eating wares. Along with the popularization of drinking tea, the ideal teapot ─ the Zi Sha pot ─ appeared in the late of Tang dynasty. This kind of pot is made of mud named Zi Sha and its color is mauve. It has a simple and unsophisticated form, and was quite popular during the Song dynasty. The well-known poet Ou Yangxiu once wrote poems about the pot. During the period between the Song and Ming, Yi Xing became the production center of Zi Sha pots. Now, the Zi Sha pot made in Yi Xing is the best quality.
Yi Xing is located on the boundary of Suzhou, Zhejiang and Anhui. It was a famous place for tea during the Tang dynasty. It is recorded that Gong Chun, an artist in the Ming dynasty, was the first best maker of Zi Sha pots. His works were named Gong Chun pot. Even then, there were comparisons between Gong Chun pots and treasures. Hence, the production of Zi Sha pot boomed.
In the middle of the Qing dynasty, Cheng Hongshou, a well-known scholar, took part in the production of Zi Sha pots and integrated calligraphy, drawing and arts, which was accepted and affirmed by society and named the Man Sheng pot. This kind of pot was another milestone in the history of Zi Sha pot production. After that, many artists took part in the drawing and calligraphy of Zi Sha pots.

By Explore Cultural China

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Art of Chinese Tea

Chinese Tea Lore
Chinese tea lore is several hundred years, possibly even thousands of years, older than that of Japan. It is said that Chinese tea lore places an emphasis on spirit and makes light of form. Tea lore had different representations at different historical periods. Teas are also various, but all embody the tea spirit of “clearness, respect, joy and truthfulness”.
The highest ambit of tea lore
Philosophy, ethics and morality are blended into tea activity. People cultivate their morality and mind, and savor life through tasting tea, thereby attaining joy of spirit.
Tasting tea
The quality of the tea is judged by the color, fragrance and flavor of the tea, the water quality and even the tea set. When tasting tea, the taster should be able to savor the tea thoroughly.
Tea art
While drinking attention is paid to environment, atmosphere, music, infusing techniques and interpersonal relationships.
Clearness means cleanness, incorruptness, quietness and loneliness. The essense of tea art not only seeks the cleanness of the appearance of things, but also pursues the loneliness, tranquility, incorruptness and shame awareness of the mind. Only through drinking clear and pure tea in a still atmosphere can one appreciate the profoundness of drinking tea.
Respect is the root of everything on earth and the way of having no enemies. People should show respect for others and be cautious of themselves.
The meaning of harmony lies in form and method and that of joy in spirit and affection. Sipping bitterness and swallowing sweetness when drinking tea can enlighten one to the spice of life and cultivate a broad mind and far-sightedness, so that disputes between others and self disappear. The spirit of joy lies in that people are not pretentious and haughty, but dwell in mildness and nurture courteous conduct.
Truthfulness requires truth and genuine knowledge. The supreme good is the whole that is formed by the combination of truth and genunine knowledge. The ambit of supreme good is to retain nature, to remove material desire without being tempted by advantages and disadvantages, to study the physical world to gain knowledge and to continually seek after improvements. In other words, people should use scientific methods to seek the complete sincerity of everything. The essence of drinking tea lies in enlightening capacity and conscience, so that everyone can live a simple life, express their ambitions and handle matters thriftily and virtuously in daily life, thus attaining the ambit of truth, good and beauty.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Indian Vintage Tea Posters/Advertising

Marked Pure Indian & Ceylon Kelley Douglas & Co Limited Vancouver, B.C. 3 lbs Net
Curious India tourism ad from 1960
This is a colorful tin which would have held 8 ounces of Monarch Tea. It measures approximately 5 1/2" tall and 3 1/4" wide. It says "Packed by Reid Murdoch, Chicago, Ill." On the top of the lid is "Highest Award World's Fair Chicago 1893." It also has "Darjeeling" on the side.

INDIA-CIRCA 1965:A stamp printed in INDIA shows image of tea pickers, circa 1965.
India Vintage Tin Sign BROOKE BOND

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wucai porcelain

The wucai porcelain is a kind of overglaze decoration porcelain which is made by firing the already-fired plain base painted with some colorful patterns in the colourful kiln with 770 – 800 degrees Celsius. It features rich colors, with red, yellow, green, blue, purple etc as the basic hue. Because it has clear lines and the firing temperature is slightly higher than that of famille rose, and the colour not so soft, it is also called “yingcai” (literally, hard color).
Wucai is a new variety of the Jingdezhen Kiln during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. As blue paint did not exist in the Ming Dynasty, blue-and-white took the place where blue color should be presented, hence the name “blue-and-white wucai”. It then became a feature peculiar to the age, with wucai in the Jiajing and Wanli Periods as the representatives.
The Wucai fired in Kangxi’s reign is the most well-known among all those in the Qing Dynasty. Other than red, green, yellow, brown and purple paints, overglaze blue was newly made to replace underglaze blue-and-white, and golden and black paints were also extensively applied, which added resplendence and flamboyance to its color.

Ming dynasty, Jiajing mark and period (1522-1566)
Porcelain painted in underglaze blue and overglaze polychrome enamels; H. 9 1/8 in. (23.2 cm)
The ascendancy of polychrome enamel decoration over other ornamental techniques seen in porcelains of the Jiajing period could represent an attempt to compensate for the low quality of potting by making an ambitious display of color. Ceramic painters were adept and imaginative with their palette of enamels and sought to achieve a maximum number of effects.
An important innovation of the Jiajing period, the so-called wucai ("five-color") decoration, was one of the last major additions to the lexicon of ornamental techniques developed during the Ming dynasty, Despite its name, the number of colors in wucai decoration is not strictly limited to five. Wucai, like doucai, is a combination of underglaze blue and overglaze polychrome enamels. However, where the soft underglaze blue of doucai was primarily used for dainty outline that laid the groundwork for elegant little washes of pale enamel colors, the dark blue of wucai was applied in bold washes to complement vigorous splashes of strong overglaze colors, and outlining was mostly done in overglaze red, brown, or black.
Fish in water weeds are a popular Jiajing wucai motif. The fish form a rebus: the Chinese word yu ("fish") is pronounced much like yu ("abundant"), and the pun symbolizes the wish for wealth.
An Imperial Wucai Porcelain Dragon-Phoenix Bowl, China

A fine 'Wucai' 'Immortals' bowl.

By Explore Cultural China

Monday, June 4, 2012

Australian-New Zealand Vintage Tea Brands/Advertising

Magazine advertisement for Amber Tips tea, 1959
Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: 1269781/2
Further information and copies of this image may be obtained from the Library through its 'Timeframes' website,
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

Gold Leaf Tea for J Rattray & Son, Ltd tin dates from the 1930's.
Advertising Agency: Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, Australia
Executive Creative Director: Ant Keogh
Creative Directors: Tom Martin, Julian Schreiber
Art Director: Quenton Miller
Copywriter: Ben Keenan
Illustrator: Craig McGill
Designers: Simon Redwood, Jake Turnbull

Offered is a vintage Melrose's tea tin or canister that has a fired on red color with black lettering and a hinged lid. It's marked Melroses LTD Edinburgh Scotland
Australian Bushland Tea Advertising Tin

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Underglazed red porcelain

The underglaze red porcelain is a variety that emerged in the Yuan Dynasty. It is produced in accordance with the procedures as follows: first draw bronze red veins on the body of the porcelain and then cover a layer of transparent glaze on the body and finally burn it with the reducing flame at the temperature of 1200 centigrade degree. The porcelain processed this way will have the red copper wire beneath the glaze. Therefore the porcelain of such type is called "underglaze red".

The pure underglaze red porcelain is flamboyant and warm in colour. Since the red glaze will display relatively poor stability in the burning process, the porcelain of this type is rare.
The underglaze red porcelain once prevailed during the Ming Dynasty and some masterpieces have been passed down until now. The technique of producing underglaze red porcelain reached its maturity during the Qing Dynasty. 

Three new varieties such as underglaze red, blue and white glaze and bean green glaze were developed then. In particular, blue and white porcelain in copper red colour, the combination of blue and white glaze porcelain and underglaze red porcelain, displays the grand scenery of mountains, rivers and human activity. 

The colour blue contrasts finely with the colour red, thus highlighting the expressiveness of the porcelain by differentiating the primary from the secondary.

Bowl with design of children at play
Wanli period,Ming Dynasty
Height: 10.2cm
Diameter of mouth: 22.4cm
Diameter of foot: 8.8cm

Vat with design of clouds and dragons
Qianlong period,Qing Dynasty
Height: 45cm
Diameter of mouth: 42cm
Diameter of foot: 33cm

Tea pot with peach-shaped knobs
Kangxi period,Qing Dynasty
Overall heignt: 13cm
Diameter of mouth: 8.5cm
Diameter of foot: 7.7cm

By Explore Cultural China

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Chinese and Japanese Vintage Tea Posters

Vintage chinese print reproduction
Kai Fang Tea Trading Company: Tea from the Heart of China
Japanese Tea, 1930s
Tea ads, 1900s-1920s

Tea ads, 1900s-1920s
This rare postcard is one of a set displaying the artistic creations of turn-of-the-century Japanese artist Hiroshige. They were published by the distributors of Japan's "Formosa Oolong Tea" between 1900-1910.

Winter is Coming - Ginger Tisane

 The warmth of summer is slowly fleeing as the September nights and mornings hint at the coming of winter. Ginger tisanes are perfect to pr...