Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tea Time



There was a time when tea was elevated to an art form....not sold in nondescript boxes in grocery stores.




Tea was pressed into intricate molds, dried and sold in brick form.



Designs varied, but they were all ornate... and they smelled wonderful!


Some pressed teas were a little more creative and took on other shapes.


This one is in the shape of a coin and could be hung as a decorative object.



 China did not monopolize the market...this is Russian tea.




You can still buy these today, just usually not in your supermarket. I have had this brick of tea for over ten years and decided to treat it as sculptural art and not becoming wet tea leaves in the bottom of a cup. Let me know if you have seen other designs of tea bricks. I am fascinated with their beauty!

18 comments:

Mag said...

I have never seen something like this before..This is truly a remarkable post which reflects your blog so well. Art is the answer. Not industrialision...something along these lines anyway..

Gina said...

Dear Theresa, How can I live to be this old and not have been aware of this wonderful tea brewing tradition? I love these blocks of tea. You always bring the best and the most unusual to us. Thank you.

Theresa Cheek said...

Thank you Mag. That is my mantra! We must support the humanistic side of production when possible.

MyFavoriteFrenchAntiques said...

How fabulous to learn about artisans that combined beauty into providing basic needs...tea!

Do you give tours of your home?;-)

You have the most wonderful collections!

Mark D. Ruffner said...

This is amazing, Theresa! It got me to thinking that it's been a long time since I've eaten anything, other than chocolate, that came from a mold. My mother had copper molds hanging in her kitchen and used them with regularity. This posting is a nice companion piece to the one you did on bread creations ...

Cleta said...

Yes! "Art is the answer. Not industrialization..." this was the basis of the Arts and Crafts Movement as well. Maybe we can return to that sensibility? At least for a bit, anyway, through fabulous blogs like this one by Theresa, as well as Ornamentalist (Lynne Rutter).

Theresa - always a joy to log on and see what's new here!

Cleta

Theresa Cheek said...

Cleta-
You really nailed why I do this blog. Maybe we can return....? Thanks.

La Petite Gallery said...

My gosh I am 73 yrs. old and have never seen this Tea in a brick.
They really are artistic looking.
Very few Americans do the tea thing with loose tea. My Grandmother steeped her tea and read tea leaves to us, What fun.

yvonne

Patrick Gracewood said...

Theresa,
before I read the text I assumed that the relief images were of INK blocks. Sumi-e ink (Japanese) and Chinese ink are also sold in decorative blocks. Perhaps a follow up post on them.
And then scramble us all by using both ink and tea blocks to make very dark liquids and see if we readers can tell the difference....

Theresa Cheek said...

LOL! You are so demented Patrick! That's why I love ya!

Karena said...

Theresa, I never knew this.... I love the artistry in this tea!!

xoxo
Karena
Art by Karena

Francine Gardner said...

I love to learn something new. Thanks to your post i just did. I have never encountered this type of brick tea and am an avid shopper for tea...have been known to spend hours in China, tasting, selecting, looking, smelling teas.Now I will be focusing my search on these particular brick form of tea.
New to your blog, will be checking it regularly.

Theresa Cheek said...

Anyone interested in buying, just google "tea brick" and you will find sources.

home before dark said...

You have the most deliciously curious mind. Thank for you the trip to Well, I Never That Land! Think I'll go make a cup of tea and think about this one!

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

I remember seeing one of these for the first time in Chinatown in nYC and I almost tripped over myself! Why I didn't go in and buy one, I'll never know. Now's the time!
Catherine

teaorwine said...

Tea with architectural interest; I had no idea. Fascinating, for sure.

Brillante Interiors said...

I am stunned, never heard about it, totally in love with your images. A piece of art for sure.

Merisi said...

Your tea brick collection is the most beautiful I have ever seen, such an incredible variety! They are truly works of art.

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