Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tea Painting: Resign Your Official Post to Seek Mother

Medium: Dahongpao tea (a kind of Oolong tea) soup
Title: Resign Official Post to Seek Mother

The story:
Zhu Shouchang was born in Tianchang in the Song Dynasty.
When he was seven years old, his birth mother Madam Liu, who was a concubine, was envied by Zhu Souchang's father's first wife.
His step-mother arranged and forced madam Liu to another man.
This marriage separated mother and son for 50 years.
During the reign of Emperor Shenzong [1068-1085], Zhu Shouchang became an official in the imperial court.
He looked for his mother, vowing to never give up until he found her.
He wrote a sutra in blood and went around seeking his mother.
One day he got a clue of his mother's whereabouts.
 He resigned from his post and went to Shaanxi to find her.
 He finally met his biological mother and two younger brothers in Tongzhou (in Shanxi).
They had a happy reunion and returned home together. His mother was already over 70 years old at that time. 
Chinese poetry praises his deed:
At seven he was separated from his mother,
And fifty years have passed;
One morning they meet again,
And the joy of it moves Heaven.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tea Painting: Spurting Spring and Jumping Carps

Medium: Oolong tea soup
Title: Spurting Spring and Jumping Carps

The story:
Jiang Shi lived during the Han dynasty in Sichuan. 
His wife's name was Pang. 
They were a pious and filial couple. 
Mrs.Pang often went to fetch water from the Yangtze River that was  several miles away from their home.
 Jiang Shi's mother liked to drink water from this river too. 
She was also very fond of eating fish. 
So, Jiang Shi and his wife often cooked fish for her.  
Jiang Shi's mother did not like to eat by herself and so they invited the old lady who was her neighbour.
One day, Madam Pang went to fetch water and came back late due to strong winds blowing. 
Jiang Shi mistakenly thought that she had neglected his mother.  
He drove his wife out of their home.
Madam Pang lived in her neighbor's home.
 She wove yarn diligently day and night to earn a living.
She would  ask her neighbor to send her earnings to her mother-in-law.
Jiang Shi's mother found out that her son had driven her out.  
She ordered Jiang Shi to invite her back home.
On the day that Madam Pang returned home, spring water spurted in the courtyard suddenly and it tasted the same as the Yangtze River water.
 In addition, two carps jumped out of the water every day. 
Henceforth Madam Pang could offer these to her mother-in-law instead of going a long way to the riverside.

Chinese poetry lauds:

                                          Beside the house a sweet fountain flows, and
                                                  Each morning a pair of fish appears;
                                           The son can constantly be filial to his mother;
                              The daughter-in-law can be filial to her husband's mother.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tea Painting: He Wept until the Bamboo Sprouted

Mèng Zōng lived during the Three Kingdoms period. 
His father died when he was a young child, and his mother was old and in very ill health. 
One winter, the doctor told her to drink soup boiled in fresh bamboo shoots.
It was a very cold winter and there were no fresh bamboo shoots to be found.
Meng Zōng did not know what to do and he had no means to acquire fresh bamboo from the market either. 
He went into the bamboo forest, weary and distraught, seizing a bamboo stalk, he wept bitterly. 
Suddenly there was a loud sound that came out of the earth and there were many tender bamboo shoots that began emerging, growing out of the ground. 
His filial piety  and love for his mother moved heaven and earth. 
He harvested the bamboo shoots and took them home to cook the soup for his ailing mother.
Meng Zong's mother recovered from her illness.

Chinese poetry praises Meng Zong:

Tears drop; the north wind is cold
And moans through a stand of bamboo;
But winter bamboo shoots come forth!
The wish of Heaven is to bring harmony.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tea Cuisine: Marbled Tea Eggs 茶葉蛋


- Eggs (any number, but make sure they cover only one layer in the pot)
- Boiling water
- 100ml light soy sauce/tamari sauce
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce (add more if you prefer a darker colour)
- 1 tsp sugar

(A) Herbs and Spices
- 2 tbsp black, non-floral tea (preferably Chinese tea such as pu-er 普洱, tie guan yin 铁观音 or oolong 乌龙) or 2 black tea leaves bag (if using tea bag, only use the tea filter bag, cut away the string and paper handle)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 2 small pieces of dried tangerine/orange peel
- 3 cloves
- 6 peppercorns, lightly bruised
- 2 small pieces of dang gui aka Angelica sinensis, Chinese Angelica Root, 当归 (optional, for the herbal taste)

For extra herbal taste (optional, for step 4 below)
- 5 pieces of dang gui
- 1 tsp wolfberries, soaked in water for at least 5 minutes

1. Prepare hard boiled eggs till they are 80% cooked. 
Place eggs in saucepan of cold water (enough water to cover eggs). 
Bring to a boil for about 2 minutes, turn off the flame and cover with lid for about 7 minutes (for 100% hard boiled eggs, it’s about 10 minutes). 
Rinse the eggs with cold water till they are cooled.
2. Gently tap the exterior of the eggs with the back of the spoon to form cracks evenly around the egg, careful to leave the entire shell still intact and covering the egg. This will create the beautiful “marbled” look and also allow the flavors to seep through the eggs.

3. In a slow cooker, arrange the eggs to occupy one layer in the pot. 
Then add boiling water (just enough to cover the eggs), soy sauces, sugar, tea and the ingredients in (A). Set the slow cooker on high for about 1-2 hours (starting from the time you see the water boiling in the slow cooker). Thereafter simmer on low for as long as you like till ready to serve.
 If  not using a slow cooker, just bring all the ingredients in a pot to a boil, then simmer for about 2-3 hours.

4. For extra herbal flavor,  add an extra 5 pieces of dang gui to the pot one hour before serving (do not want to leave them in for too long as it will result in bitter taste).
 Five minutes before serving, add the soaked wolfberries. For this herbal version, serve the eggs in a shallow dish with some broth, wolfberries and dang gui pieces poured over it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tea Painting: He Lay on Ice in Search of Carp

Medium: black tea soup
Title: Lie on Ice for Carps

Wáng Xiáng lived during the Jìn dynasty. 
He lost his mother at an early age. His stepmother, Zhū, was unloving and unkind towards him. 
She  unceasingly spoke ill of Wang Xiang to his father.
Wang Xiang's father believed her and as a consequence, Wng Xiang lost the love of his father too. one of his step-mother's favorite food was to eat fresh fish. 
However, during one very cold winter the river froze. 
Wang Xiáng loosened his clothes and lay on the ice. His intention was to melt the ice so he could fish. Suddenly the ice opened up by itself and a pair of carp leaped out. 
He caught the pair of carp.
Wang Xiang returned home  and served them to his stepmother. 

A famous verse immortalizes his deed:

We have seen stepmothers before,
But never a Wáng Xiáng,
Until today upon the river, when
He left us a model by lying on the ice.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tea Painting: She bit her fingers and pained his heart

Medium: Oolong Tea soup
Title: She bit her fingers and pained his heart

The story:
Zeng Shen, who was also known as Ziyu.
 He lived in the State of Lu during the Spring and Autumn Period. 
He was one of Confucius favorite disciples. He was named Zeng Tzu.  
He was born in a poor family and often went into the mountains to gather firewood.
One day a guest came to the house, and his mother had made no arrangements to entertain him.
She hoped for Shen to be there, who had not returned from gathering firewood.
 Then she bit her finger, drawing blood. 
Suddenly Shen felt a pain in his heart. He shouldered the firewood and quickly returned home. Kneeling, he asked his mother what was the matter.
 His mother said: "A guest came unexpectedly. I bit my finger to alert you."
Later, verses praised him, saying:
His mother has just bitten her finger;
When her son's heart aches uncontrollably;
He shoulders his wood to return and is not too late;
The tie between mother and child is so deep.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tea Painting: Her Son Tasted Soups And Medicine

This is a Chabaixi painting. 
A painting done in the medium of black tea soup. 
Title of  painting : Taste the Herbal Decoction in Person

The story:
Liu Heng, Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty was the third son of the First Emperor of the Han Dynasty and Empress Bo. 
In the eighth year of Empress Bo (180 B.C.), he succeeded to the throne. 
He was famous for his benevolence and filial piety.  
He waited upon his mother, who was ill in bed for three years. 
For the duration of her illness he often attended to her without sleep.
Before letting her drink the medicine, he always taste tested the herbal decoctions for his mother's safety.  
During his reign of 24 years, he emphasized virtues that advocated etiquette and paid attention to the development of agriculture. 
This made the Western Han Dynasty stable, the population flourished and the economy recovered. His reign and that of Emperor Jing of the Han Dynasty were reputed together as the "Peaceful Reigns of Emperors Wen and Jing".

Benevolence and piety are rumored through the kingdom;
Lofty and eminent he excels a hundred kings;
The Queen-Mother has been sick for three years,
And he always tastes the medicine first.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tea Painting:The Feeling of Filial Piety Moved Heaven

 Chabaixi is part of Chinese traditional culture.
Tea painting is therefore used to display and render the poetic beauty 
and the traditional merits of the culture.
Due to the temporary nature of tea painting, the renditions are done in an impressionistic style.
 This is one of the twenty four stories of Filial Piety rendered in the medium of tea soup.

Tea Painting

Medium:  Oolong tea soup

Titled: Filial Piety that Moved the Heaven

The story:
Shun was a legendary ancient emperor and one of the Five Emperors in China. 
His family name was Yao. His given name was Chonghua and his courtesy name was Youyushi but he was called and known as Yu Shun in Chinese history. 
According to the legend, his father Gusou (means the blind old-man), stepmother and step-brother Xiang plotted to kill him many times.
 They made Shun revamp the roof of barn and while he was working on the roof, 
they set fire to the barn.
 Shun jumped off the roof of the burning barn and  escaped with two bamboo hats in hand. They also made Shun dig a well, but Gusou and Xiang filled the well up 
with soil while he was in the well digging. 
Shun then dug an underground tunnel to escape.  Shun didn't resent or get angry with his family and was still humble to his father and loved his younger brother. 
His conduct of filial piety moved the heart of the King of Heaven. 
When Shun would cultivate the fields for planting on Mount Li, elephants would help him. They ploughed his fields for him while birds weeded for him. 
One day the Emperor Yao, heard about how Shun was a filial son and was talented in dealing with political affairs and diplomacy. 
Emperor Yao married  his two daughters, Ehuang and Nvying, to Shun. 
Through years of observation and tests, he selected Shun as his successor. 
After Shun ascended the throne, he still called on his father respectfully, and granted him the title of Xiang (Duke).

Verses praise him saying:

Herds of elephants plough in the spring;
Flocks of birds pull the weeds;
He is the heir of Yáo and mounts his throne;
The spirit of filial piety moves the heart of Heaven.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Painting: Tea Time (Orientalism)

Amedeo Simonetti (Italian, 1874-1922)

Title: Teatime  

Medium : pencil and watercolour on paper
Dimensions: 21¼ x 14 in. (54 x 35.6 cm.)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Painting: Tea Time

Tea Time
by Guglielmo Zocchi

Oil on Canvas
20 1/4 inches by 28 1/4 inches

Friday, January 11, 2013

Painting: Tea Party, Volendam

Robert Gemmell Hutchison, British, 1855-1936) 
Tea Party, Volendam 

Dimensions: 25.5 x 36 cm. (10 1/16 x 14 3/16 in.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

France: Le Gouté (To Taste)

Jean-Jacques Lequeu (1757 -1824)  Le gouté

Le gouter is the afternoon snack time for children and adults in the French culture. It is a meal that bridges lunch and dinner. A light dinner usually served between 7.00 and 7.30 pm, le gouter is served anytime between 4.00 pm and 6.00 pm when the children are back from a school day and as a pick-me-up for adults, especially for farming country. This is also known as le quatre heures - the 4 o'clock afternoon snack.
The snack usually consists of saucisson - hard salami, tartine et chocolate - a few squares from a plain tablet of semi-sweet, pain du chocolate or fruits or cheese or yogurt or Tartines (bread-and-butter or open faced sandwiches) and some homemade jam, with the beverage of choice like orange juice or hot chocolate.
However, le gouter is not just for children but adults also enjoy this afternoon interlude. The adult choices usually include a cup of expresso or tea or sparkling water with fruit syrups, along with some light cookies or cakes or whatever can be pulled together from the larder. The resurgence of this tradition in France was introduce by the nostalgia of the baby-boomers but never left the farm country in France as it was a break before the evening milking of the cows.
The entire goal of this interlude is a slowing down in the middle of the day. The gathering together and the enjoyment of the hours gone and what is to come. The entire process is about savoring life and the company of the people you are with, an informal gathering, while enjoying the preparation of the le gouter.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Painting: Afternoon Tea for Three

Charles-Joseph-Frédéric Soulacroix 
(French, 1825-1879)

Afternoon Tea for Three

oil on canvas
32 x 24½ in. (81.2 x 62.2 cm.) 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

History of Tea Painting

Chabaixi  originated in the Tang Dynasty. The first documentation of tea painting was found in a Tang dynasty poem, written by the poet, Liu Yuxi described in his poem, Song of Tea Tasting at Xishan Lanruo Temple, 
“Pot sounds like sudden downpour and pines soughing, 
white clouds filled the bowl, flowers lingering.” 

During  the Song Dynasty,the culture of China was greatly influenced by Emperor Huizong, his court officials and scholars. This is when the art of tea painting Chabaixi was perfected. Emperor Huizong wrote a book named Daguan Chalun - Treatises On Tea written in the year Daguan. here he expounded  his view and knowledge on Diancha and Fencha.the emperor also prepared tea in person for the court officials. 

Many scholars like  Tao Gu, Lu You, Li Qingzhao, Yang Wanli, Su Shi had a pechant for the art of tea painting. They dedicated quite a few poems and articles on Chabaixi - tea painting. The poet and scholar Lu You, described the art of tea painting - fencha in his poem, 
titled Spring Rain Just Stops in Lin’an - 
“Leisurely I write in cursive style on a small paper piece, 
watching the patterns formed in the bubble-filled tea soup beside the window.”
The practice and art of Chabaixi  gradually waned after the Yuan Dynasty. There were no documentation of on Chabaixi after the Qing Dynasty. Zhang Zhifeng, a major of tea science in Wuyishan City, recovered the ancient and precious cultural heritage in 2009 after systematical study and research.
The art of tea painting is getting a resurgence. There are tea painters that are skilled in using a spoon and utilizing special skills to stir in the tea soup to form special patterns like birds, beasts, worms, fish, flowers, grass, and Chinese characters. These are very delicate as painting, they are to be appreciated at the very instant that it is created because they dissipate quickly.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Hundred Tea Show - Cha Bai Xi

Chabaixi - literally means the hundred tea show.It is also known as or called by many other names like  Fencha  (sorting tea), Shui Danqing (water painting), Tangxi  (soup show) or Chaxi (tea show).

 This is an ancient tea ceremony which makes tea soup to form various patterns. One of its remarkable feature is that it can display characters or patterns in the tea soup with no other raw materials but tea and water.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Blessed and Happy New Year 2013!

A  Very Blessed, Happy, Prosperous New Year - 2013 to one and all.
Wishing everyone many hot cups of tea throughout the year.

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