Time for tea
Would you like to come for tea at the Princessehof this autumn? From 6 September 2014 the Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics in Leeuwarden lays on a spread with the exhibition Time For Tea. The exhibition explores various tea cultures and includes nearly 1000 objects that reveal the diversity of ceramic objects used for serving and drinking tea. Complete tea sets, exquisite bowls and cups, unique teapots and beautiful tea caddies convey the history of tea in China, Japan, England and the Netherlands.
Tea has a unique history. Time For Tea transports visitors through different countries, periods and tea cultures in China, Japan, and the Netherlands during the 17th and 18th centuries, England in the 18th and 19th centuries, and again in the Netherlands during the 20th and 21st centuries.
The journey begins in China, where tea drinking originated. Tea was initially regarded as a medicine and an entheogen, but a rich tradition surrounding social tea drinking soon arose. Buddhist monks introduced tea to Japan, eventually giving rise to the Japanese tea ceremony; even today, serving tea correctly in Japan is considered as something of an art. In the early 17th century, the Dutch East India Company brought tea and associated ceramic wares to the Netherlands. At first, the hot drink was a luxury beverage enjoyed by high society, but before long tea became a social event for people from all walks of life. Tea was enormously popular in Great Britain. Afternoon tea was – and still is – a great British tradition. Over the years, tea became interwoven with daily life: nowadays it is served and drunk everywhere, and the culture of tea shows no signs of abating. Chatting with friends over high tea, with trendy teahouses popping up everywhere and deliveries of fresh mint struggling to meet demand: tea is hot!
The exhibition Time For Tea includes an enormous diversity of ceramics made for serving and drinking tea. The museum’s sizeable collection is complemented with objects loaned from other museums and private collections. From China, we have the austere pottery of the Chinese Buddhists and the famous blue-and-white porcelain used by the Ming Dynasty elite. The refined Japanese style is characterised by its simplicity. The Netherlands also has a grand and very varied range of tea wares, ranging from industrial to artisan, from bold design to the well-known ‘boerenbont’.
The Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics has compiled a comprehensive and appealing programme of activities to accompany the exhibition Time For Tea. Adults can enjoy tea ceremonies, tastings and guided tours. There are also lectures about tea, tea culture and ceramics, opportunities to consult with antiques specialists, and a valuation day. During the holidays in autumn, at Christmas and at New Year, children can participate in creative workshops such as making and painting Chinese, Japanese, Dutch and English teacups. In short, there are plenty of activities for young and old during Time For Tea. The programme of activities will be available later this year at www.princessehof.nl.