As a tea drinker I don’t get around much. For the most part, I drink tea at home and at work. I don’t go to teahouses and the like for a number of reasons. The first reason is location, location, location. While there’s one in town that has a good reputation and whose fine tea I’ve actually purchased, they’re too far away to be convenient. Even if they were closer the cost of a cup of tea at a teahouse is many times what it costs me to make one at home and then there’s the fact that I’m not really wired for lounging around over a cup of tea.
If you’re like me and you don’t care to go out for tea but you’d like some of the ambience of a teahouse, you might consider a dedicated space for tea. Of course this will depend on whether you have space you can dedicate for such a use and in its simplest form might just be a dedicated room or even a corner of a room.
If you want to get a little more serious about this sort of thing you could build your own tea house. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported it’ll set you back somewhere between $5,000 and $20,000, so it’s not really an option for casual tea fans. On the plus side, said tea house comes in kit form and thus should be relatively easy to assemble. The idea is the brainstorm of one Kiyoshi Mitsunami, a Japanese carpenter who began selling the kits a few years ago in Japan and eventually expanded to begin selling them abroad.
For an interesting overview of the process of building a Japanese-styled tea house, as well as some interesting background on these structures, check out this site for the Teahouse Project at Cornell University. It focuses on a group of students who pitched in to build such a tea house.
If you’d like to get more ideas for a tea space or tea house or if you’d just like to take part in the armchair tea house experience, there are a number of books that might be of use. There’s The Modern Japanese Tea Room, by Michael Freeman, for starters. The Contemporary Tea House: Japan’s Top Architects Redefine a Tradition was put together by a gang of authors and is described as a “beautiful and fascinating volume [that] takes the traditional tea house and turns it on its head.” For a Chinese take on the topic take a look at Neo-Chinese Style Tea Houses, which is slated to be released in May of 2014.
See a related article on this blog: “A Tea Room of My Own” by Janis Badarau
See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.
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