The world in a teacup: Paris show digs into brew’s roots

PARIS, Oct 20, 2012 (AFP) – It can be green, black, white or red and, after water, is the most widely consumed drink on the planet. Like a wine sommelier, she speaks of “the spirit of tea”, its tastes, its odours — up to 600 in a single tea. She conducts a meticulous ritual to smell and taste it.

The exhibition also includes sections displaying utensils, manuscripts, calligraphy, paintings and rare books. The history of tea is explained, from the “boiled tea” of medieval China, Tibet and Mongolia, to the “beaten tea” of classical China and Japan, and the “infused tea” of modern China, Europe and the rest of the world.

It emerges that in China, wine and tea were forever at odds, their conflict inspiring literature and arts.

“Ancient China revolved around wine, tea came in with Buddhism,” Desroches said.

“From that was born the confrontation between the world of scholars who liked drunkenness and that which sought serenity.”

Espionage

In the eighth century, the first specialist work on tea appeared, the “Chajing”, or “Classical Book of Tea” of Lu Yu. Tea leaves, made into bric