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An exquisite Tang dynasty court tea set made of gold, silver, olive green porcelain, and glass from 1,500 years ago was excavated at Famen temple in 1987. The set includes mortar and pestle for grinding tea leaves, pots, trays, bowls, and saucer – proof of the fact that there existed a sophisticated and formal tea drinking tradition among Chinese in ancient time.



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An Introduction to Tea and Ancient Tea Culture

12.30pm Wednesday, 30 August 2017
SMU Administration Building
Function Room 4.1, Level 4
81 Victoria Street
Singapore 188065


SEACS and the Wee Kim Wee Centre is co-oranising a talk on tea and ancient tea culture by Allison Liu.

Tea was initiated in China by Shennong (ca. 3245 BC – 3080 BC), who was respected as the God of Agriculture and Chinese Herbs. The poisoning Shennong suffered from tasting all the herbs for human beings was only detoxified by tea. Here begins the history of Chinese tea. Over the years, tea culture has gone through three stages corresponding to three of the greatest dynasties in Chinese history—the Tang, Song and Ming.

During the Tang (618-906), people boiled tea in a large wok and “ate” the tea after adding pepper, salt and ginger. (You can view some of the Tang ceramics used in this process in “The Belitung Shipwreck” exhibition at the Asian Civilisations Museum.) During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), people boiled water, then used a long spouted ewer to pour the boiled water into a tea bowl while whipping the powdered tea to make durable bubbles for fun. But it was the Ming (1368-1644) court that started to order precious tea leaves as tribute goods. The famous Yixing zisha teapots were created during Emperor Zhengde’s reign (1505 – 1521) to brew tea leaves before pouring the brewed tea into tea cups. This eventually developed into the modern way we drink tea today.


About Allison Liu
Allison Liu is currently writing a book based on her research in tea culture and teapots. Her focus has been on Chinese Yixing masters’ teapots, especially those created in wood-fired kilns and Fujian’s Wuyi rock tea. She is a frequent speaker at conferences and art forums and recently participated in both the Art Forum of Art Basel Hong Kong and the Yale-NUS China Summit. Having completed an MBA in Finance from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, she is currently a PhD candidate in art history at Renmin University, China.

This event will begin at 12.30pm and end at 2.00 pm, and is free and open to the public. Please register here to receive a complimentary lunch box lunch during the talk. Parking is available at a number of city carparks as well as the SMU Administration carpark; the National Library carpark is close by on Victoria Street and the closest MRT station is Bras Basah.