Thinking about Korean tea lately. Remembering all the time I spent in the teahouses in Insadong – a favorite neighborhood in Seoul – on the weekends, lounging over a cup of tea and the Korean alphabet. My three favorites were quince, jujube, and plum tea. Always served in a beautiful, earthy cup with a small wooden spoon.
Although I traveled around much of the country, I never made it to famous green tea fields. However, I did learn how to perform a Korean tea ceremony, an elaborate ritual with specific equipment and certain gestures and moments for each part of the performance. The ritual of drinking tea was always best when served with delicate rice cakes, pictured below.
(image above via, image below via, last image via)
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Tagged cha, Insadong, jujube, Korea, quince, rice cake, Seoul, South Korea, tea, teahouse, Tee
The dark days of winter have almost passed. While I enjoy the yearly chance to hibernate, I love to see the light dawning when I wake and be able to ride home without bike lights when I finish for the day. Thank you to warm-lit lamps and steaming drinks for your coziness during the cold months. Until next year. (image above via, image below via).
Like Okakura, I know that tea is no minor beverage. When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?
This line from The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery keeps coming back to me even though I finished the book weeks ago…
A few years ago, while living in Seoul, I spent many Sunday afternoons in Insadong, an artsy Korean neighborhood filled with teahouses, art boutiques, a green tea ice cream shop, and several book shops. This one was my favorite, filled to the brim with books stacked in every free space. Today, a rainy Sunday in Amsterdam, I’d like to be in Insadong and stroll the streets. I’d get a cup of plum tea then go to this book shop and run my fingers over the books to disturb the inevitable layer of fine dust.