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The Art of Asian Tea Drinking @ The British Museum

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by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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2500 Years of Tea Drinking
tea, asia, japan, china, teapot
Stoneware kendi painted with four-clawed dragon. Vietnam, c. 14401480

There is one thing Britain and Asia have in common. We love our tea. Here, in the UK, we are most comfortable and familiar with our builders' brew. If my mum does not get a strong cuppa in the morning, she wouldn't be able to function.

But whereas our tea drinking nation drink gallons of the blends which block all the iron being absorbed into our system, those in Asian countries are much more sensible. They drink the stuff that's good for you.

Herbal medicine has been around since ancient times, and one of the most commonly used remedies are herbal teas. From calming chamomile to libido boosting ginseng, there is a tea for all occasions.

Tea is not just used as a form of medicine though. Since the Bronze Age, tea, alcohol, and other drinks have played an important part in Asian religions and rituals.

The British Museum is currently holding an exhibition called 'Ritual and Revelry', which explores all the different roles certain drinks have played in Chinese and Japanese culture. Paintings and drinking vessels are on display until the 6th of January, during which time there will be scheduled talks and demonstrations. These include:

The Way of Tea

A demonstration being held on the 26th October at 2pm and 3pm. The demonstration will include a brief history of the Japanese Urasenke tea drinking ceremony.

Ritual and Revelry

A gallery talk on the 9th November at 1.15pm.

Drinking in Japan: a historical view through vessels

A 45 minute talk at 1.15pm on the 14th December.

The exhibit and all its events are free.
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Why? Learn about the cultural significance of tea
When: 27th Sept-6th Jan
Phone: 44 (0)20 7323 8299
Where: The British Museum
Cost: Free
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