Friday, February 12, 2016

Time for Tea

I've spent much of this past week thinking about tea: its origins in China; its migration to Japan and from there to England via India.  

I've not drunk much tea since I "discovered" coffee on a trip to Italy in my early twenties. Nowadays I generally drink tea only when I have a cold -- because when a cold happens my taste buds reject coffee entirely in favour of tea with honey.  So why is this 'royal' libation, soother of nerves and calmer of coughs, currently on my mind right now, when I am -- to all appearances -- hale and hearty?

Blame it on my 15 x 15 Group!  :-)  Hot on the heels of our latest "Reveal" ("Mono-print"), we have our next theme (deadline: the end of March) -- "East Meets West".

What arose first in my mind was TEA...a beverage believed to have been first developed in the Orient, in China, thousands of years ago, that made its way Westward in the seventeenth century A.D. (or C.E., if you prefer) to the British via Japan (which had imported it from China even earlier -- in the ninth century).  The Brits introduced it to India (we won't go into Imperialism and all that!)...and India is now one of the largest growers and exporters of tea in the world.  (For a long time, India out-stripped China in this; in recent years, China has reportedly regained its supremacy.)  

Tea at the Empress Hotel, Victoria, B.C.
In Canada, due to strong British influence, tea was the hot beverage of choice for a very long time...but after World War II, Canadians as a whole began to drink more coffee...apparently under the growing influence of their neighbour to the south (the U.S.)  There are still, however, many tea-drinkers among us -- whether of British, Chinese, Japanese or Indian heritage and others -- and I suspect that even those Canadians who are avowed coffee-drinkers are hard-pressed to pass up a "true English tea" -- meaning the beverage and all the attendant goodies -- when invited!

In recent years I've witnessed the rise of tea shops in malls in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton.  There one can purchase a hot cuppa (to stay or to go), and/or all the equipment and accoutrements to make one's own perfect pot at home.  My son has developed a taste for Japanese tea (indeed, he has a fondness for all things Japanese), so for his birthday a few years ago I bought him a cast iron Japanese-style pot (similar to the one in the photo at right) and some tea for brewing.  

For years, along "Gasoline Alley" at the southern edge of Red Deer, there's been a shop that's a favourite with tourists:  "Cindy's Tea Room & Gifts".  When I needed to replace my only tea pot  --purchased by a long-ago suitor in Montreal's 'China Town', its top had been broken -- I went there and found my "Blue Betty" (cousin to the traditional "Brown Betty" and, I think, prettier!).  This is a very British-looking pot, eh?!  I may no longer be an avid tea-drinker, but I love this pot's curves and it's classic over-all shape, and its beautiful deep blue colour.

Blue is a colour that, in part, symbolizes peace and healing.  In the stash of fabrics I've been using for the Japanese-style taupe quilt I'm making I have some lovely blues, blue-greys and greys that I don't plan to add to the taupes and browns in that I decided to use them for the background of my 15 x 15 piece, which I wanted to piece.  

As to the type of piecing, I've decided on hexagons -- and English Paper Piecing.  Though the piece is relatively small, I'm using 3" hexies -- in part to make the handwork go more quickly.  In another effort to streamline the process, I decided to use freezer paper as the template material so I could simply fold and press the edges of each hexagon prior to stitching them together.  First, though, I drew out a schematic for the layout:

15" square; 3" hexagons

Then I traced the shape onto freezer paper and ironed it onto the back of each fabric:

Next I reversed the freezer paper to make it shiny side up, and pressed the edges over:

I think they're so pretty -- in a tranquil sort of way...

Finally, I laid them out "in a pleasing composition" on the original schematic:

That was Wednesday.  I've now begun to piece them together, which is equally soothing,  and to ponder exactly what I'm going to place on this background once it's finished.   True to the original inspiration, it will have something to do with tea...

Meanwhile, let's both grab a cuppa (make mine decaf coffee, black, please!) and head on over to see what Nina Marie and friends are doing at Off the Wall Friday, eh?

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Kathie Briggs said...

Love your hexagons. Looking forward to seeing what you do with them. Tea is OK but I LOVE my coffee. I buy a local roast and its my morning indulgence.

Judy Cooper Textile Artist said...

I'm a tea drinker! Your blue teapot is gorgeous. I inherited my brown Betty teapot from my mother who always had it on her stove. Great idea to use freezer paper for the hexagons - I hadn't thought of that DUH!! Look forward to seeing the finished project. Love the blues!

elle said...

A Blue Betty! :) I am a hot, black, full body, coffee drinker. I do not gulp on the run but sit and savour! Great symbolism in your oiece. It has a great start!

Anonymous said...

I'm a tried and true tea drinker. I also adore hexie quilts. Your freezer paper method is a wonderful idea and the colours are definitely calm and soothing.

Peggy said...

Tea is what I am sipping right now and always sipping. Love black-based teas and make mixes. Just last week-end at a mini quilt retreat we were planning on having a tea party with all our beautiful teacup collections. I love the blues of your hexagons. Good idea for 3 inch ones. I am eager to see the end result! Nice meeting you!

Christine Staver said...

Love the colors of your hexes. Anxious to see what you do next.

Maggi said...

You really have taken your tea idea and run with it.