I recall with delight a scene from ITV’s hugely successful period drama “Downton Abbey” where Lord Grantham was talking to his butler Mr. Carson about the new driver who had replaced the recently resigned Mr Taylor:
Lord Grantham: He seems a bright spark after poor old Taylor. And to think Taylor’s gone off to run a tea shop! I cannot feel it will make for a very restful retirement, can you?
Mr. Carson: I would rather be put to death, my lord!
Lord Grantham: Quite so!
teanamu chaya teahouse opens on 26 February 2011. Come and experience the timeless time of tea with us.
Quite so, indeed!
Running a small teahouse has been a little fantasy of mine for a rather long time. I’ve harboured the dream of a teahouse where I could bake and cook a little something and provide a meditative and serene place for my tea friends to come to have a restorative time or simply to chit chat and while an afternoon away. It would be my way of sharing my love of tea and cooking with my tea friends and an excuse to practise the Way of Tea.
After some years of considering the look and format of the teahouse, and drawing inspiration from “The Book of Tea” by Okakura-Kakuzo, I have decided to base the design on the phrase “refined poverty“. It has been very interesting searching for pieces of furniture and tea utensils that exhibit the aesthetics of asymmetry, simplicity, modesty and intimacy and that subtly suggest the passage of time.
Partly through this process, I’ve realised that today’s technology and industrialism have made true ‘refinement’ in this sense more and more difficult. Still, what’s needed more than ever are warm and welcoming places that afford a little respite from the hurly burly and where we can pause to refresh and re-balance ourselves.
This is where the Chinese tea drinking tradition comes in.
I have long wished to bring this culture and special experience to London. There is nothing more relaxing and pleasurable than to slowly brew tea by performing the traditional gongfu cha Chinese ritual way of tea-making. Hence every table at the Chaya Teahouse will have its own gongfu cha tea set to allow you to have a meditative tea drinking experience – a little time to heal and to restore.
As humble as I can be, I hope Chaya Teahouse will allow my tea friends to visibly enter the timeless time of tea where they can forget their problems and be enveloped in the slow, depthless moments of the Way of Tea.
PS: teanamu Chaya Teahouse is opening this Saturday 26 February from noon-6pm. I hope you will pop by to have a cuppa.