In continuation of my earlier post, here are some pictures taken inside the museum that reflect the tea beauty, culture and history.
One of the main attractions for tea lovers in Hong Kong is the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware. It is located in the island on the Hong Kong Park.
From the museum official website we have the following information: “Built in the 1840s, Flagstaff House originally served as the office and residence of the Commander of the British Forces in Hong Kong. It was converted to the Museum of Tea Ware in 1984, with a new wing, The K.S. Lo Gallery, added in 1995. Alongside its exhibitions, the Museum holds regular demonstrations, tea gatherings and lecture programs to promote ceramic art and Chinese tea drinking culture”.
The best way to get to the museum is through the metro (MTR) Admiralty station stop. On the Admiralty station take the 1C exit, turn right and follow the signs to the Hong Kong Park.
On the entrance of the museum there are small samples of tea to show color, shape and texture; utensils for tea brewing and tea serving. Since the building was a house/office it contains many rooms in two floors.
One of the rooms is for the children play. It has Tea Toys made out of wood. The idea is to start the tea education of the children early, as a play.
What I call Instant Matcha is the fine powdered tea that is ready to be used and can be bought in bulk or in individual packages. The tea mixes very quickly with hot or cold water, milk or other types of foods.
Matcha is made by grinding whole Camellia sinensis tea leaves (except the stems and veins). The tea plants for Matcha are shade grown for at least three weeks before leaves are rharvested. The pure leaves have additional properties, flavor and aroma.
The Instant Matcha is also available in individual packages for convenience. The packages are beautiful, made with aluminum foil to avoid contamination and oxidation.
The Matcha can be enjoyed as cold or hot tea, but also be used with milk, ice cream, candies, chocolate, pastries, cookies, etc. I will post more pictures in the next blogs.
The traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony with Matcha is very complex, artistic and ritualistic.
These teapots for Turkish tea always called my attention during the breakfasts in Istanbul. On the top it contains 11 teapots that are kept hot and has two faucets with hot water on the bottom. Each teapot has about one liter capacity.
The Turkish tea on the teapots is usually very strong and is diluted with hot water from one of the two faucets to each personal taste. It is common to have half tulip with water and half with tea. According to my calculations this machine has the capacity to make about 200 Turkish tulips of black tea. Need more tea? there is a box with at least 10 different types of teabags in a box in front of the machine.
After several Espressos during the day my friend invited me to have a teacup in our favorite coffee shop. Black tea with some dolci...
We got English Breakfast Tea; my surprise was to find a cotton muslin teabag filled with tea inside the package. The teabag was manufactured by La Via Del Tè (The Tea Road) in Firenze (Florence).
The cotton and silk teabags were the original types of teabags that have been used in decades since the 1900’s and now are mostly replaced by paper or thermoplastic teabags.
The tea brews instantly since the cotton muslin is very open and allows excellent tea infusion.
This tea brewing efficiency is one of the best I have experienced. After removing the teabag several pieces of lint from the cotton teabag were floating on the surface of the tea. The lint was removed with a teaspoon.
It was an interesting experience to come back to the origins of the teabags. The tea was very good on taste and made a bright moment on a rainy winter afternoon in Vicenza.
Herbal tea blends are very popular in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The packages are usually transparent to observe the components and may contain ten or more small packages inside. These blends may or not contain tea. Seeds, fruits, leaves, flowers and rock sugar are very common. The packages are very attractive, colorful and are for short term storage; the tea blends must be used freshly for the best flavor and aroma. The teas can be enjoyed hot or cold.
The use of rock sugar (solid sugar) has the advantage of the slow dissolution; on the beginning the tea is not so sweet and will get sweeter as is being enjoyed. When refills of water are made the rock sugar continues to dissolve and tea continues to be sweet for longer time.This eliminates the need of keep adding sugar in each refill. The color of the rock sugar varies from transparent to dark brown, depending on the amount of refining.
When I lived in China was fascinated with the beauty of the tea cups, particularly the Oolong cups. Tiny, elegant and nicely crafted. The typical setup is one tall cup and one small cup in a little tray. I was always asking to my Chinese friend: why the two cups? why the two cups? My friend would not answer me. After going to more tea shops my friend one day said: the tall cup is for the man and the short cup for the woman. OK, interesting story.
Later I was able to go to a tea shop in Macau and had the Oolong Gongfu tea ceremony, where I learned that the tall cup is the scent (or sniffing) cup and the small cup is the drinking cup. With time I understood that my Chinese friend didn’t want to loose face by saying “I don’t know” and used his creativity to give an answer. It is like saying: “a wrong answer is better than no answer”.