Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Eco Printing with Tea Leaves

A friend taught me a new art/ craft process today:  Eco Printing.  So of course I had to try this process with tea. I used fresh tea leaves that I had clipped from the tea bush in my mother's garden.  (My mother is wonderful with plants, so I  had given her a small live tea plant many years ago.  She has tended the plant all these years and now has it living in her beautiful garden.)

Here is how my eco printing with tea leaves turned out today.  You can enlarge each image by clicking on it.  The reddish-brown blobs are bits of gardenia flower.  You will also see a sassafras leaf tucked in among the tea leaves.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Teacup as Symbol: Miss Everything by Amy Sherald

Print of Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance) by Amy Sherald

I was recently in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and had the good fortune of learning that this painting is on display at the University's Ackland Art Museum.  I will definitely stop in to see it on my next visit to that area.  It will be on display at the Ackland through August 26, 2018.  This painting, Amy Sherald's Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance), won the 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery.  Since 2016, the painting has been on tour as a part of the The Outwin: American Portraiture Today exhibition.

So what does this painting have to do with tea, you ask?  Well, just take a look at it.  The over-sized teacup takes center stage in this portrait.  And the figure wears white gloves to hold this teacup and saucer - bringing to my mind earlier days of well-heeled women "taking tea." But this portrait features a very young black woman - surely too young to be one of those tea-taking, hat-wearing women.

I have been very curious about this image and what role tea as symbol plays in it, so I have done a bit of background research.  I have not found anything written specifically about the tea aspect of this painting.  But online you can find many (non-tea specific) written and recorded interviews with the artist.

There is a short video online HERE in which the Amy Sherald discusses this specific painting.  In this video, the Sherald suggests that the young woman in the painting is playing dress up, engaged in fantasy, (inspired by the tale of Alice in Wonderland) but also perhaps striving to be something other than what she is.  Later In this video the artist says that she wants her artwork to be "relate-able." She wants people to be able to write their own stories about her paintings.  So that is what I will do, since tea is on my mind.

I see the teacup in this painting as a symbol of propriety, conformity to what is socially acceptable in certain circles.  In the case of this over-sized teacup, I see this young woman dreaming of being or becoming a woman who lives comfortably, a woman who has time to socialize and take tea with other women like herself.  Because the figure in this portrait is quite young, and the teacup is quite large, the painting feels dream-like and aspirational to me.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

A Book, Macarons, and Tea

Reading: Design for Tea: Wares from the Dragon Court to Afternoon Tea by Jane Pettigrew

This is a delightful book that I am thoroughly enjoying.  It is helping me in my new endeavor to understand the progression of accoutrements that have been associated with taking tea over these many years that tea has been drunk.

Eating: Macarons by A la Mode Macaron of Asheville, North Carolina

This new business in Asheville, North Carolina is a keeper!  I hope that it will stick around for a long while.  The French-style macarons that they make are melt in your mouth delicious.  Pictured are pistachio, rose, peaches n cream, and s'more.

Sipping: Marco Polo blend by Mariage Freres

I have had the Marco Polo blend before, but had forgotten just how much I enjoy it.   It is a fruity and flowery black tea blend which the Mariage Freres website describes as "a mysterious blend that will take you to distant lands and unforeseen territories."

Enjoying: New-to-me teapot and linens from Upstyled Setting

Kathy of Asheville's Upstyled Setting is selling off a large chunk of her huge inventory of china, silver, linens and party decor.  Contact her for an appointment if you are interested in seeing what she has available.  You can reach her at upstyledplacesetting (at) gmail (dot) com.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Three Basic Teas & How to Enjoy Them

This book is a welcome and much needed addition to my library of books on tea.  It is a slim book, 84 pages long, but full of valuable information.  The author, Virginia Utermohlen Lovelace, MD, is a woman of many talents including an in-depth understanding of how we physiologically taste tea.

She begins this book by identifying what she considers to be the three basic teas: green, oolong, and black.  She discusses the ways that each of these teas is picked and processed.  She discusses the chemistry behind the taste of each tea type.  And she includes tips on how best to enjoy each of these types of tea - including food pairing suggestions!

I must admit that I skimmed over some sections of the book which discuss the chemistry of  tea flavors. But I read with interest all other sections - including her tea and food pairing suggestions.  I drink mostly black tea.  So, I was particularly interested to read her explanation of why raspberries and dark chocolate pair so beautifully with black tea.

This is an excellent book and well worth its modest price.  I recommend adding it to your library of books about tea.
© my tea diary
Maira Gall