; Cwyn's Death By Tea: Royal Doulton or Yixing? ;

Monday, February 23, 2015

Royal Doulton or Yixing?

When you get to my age, the world changes so fast I can't possibly keep up. I've got enough to worry about these days but lo and behold, the Rules of Tea have changed. The BBC has posted a shocking article called "Western Manners: The latest Chinese status symbol," which reports upscale Chinese workers are taking classes on western style Tea sessions. This article is posted on a page advertising other worrying articles like "Why do we have Pubic Hair?" Such placement mitigates the shock somewhat and suggests a certain skepticism, except we have photos that show what's really going on.

Not your gong fu anymore. Photo BBC
To save you the trouble of reading the whole article, the gist of it is that people in China now view certain western style habits as a status symbol. This includes tea, and learning how to brew and consume tea western style with the whole kit of English teapots, cups and saucers. In this way, people appear more cultured, apparently, and hope for more success in business. And they are willing to pay big time for this experience.

"Before, it was about owning a big car," said Hebbert [a white guy charging over $3000 for a couple of hours of teaching western tea sessions], "Now the rich are looking for something else to make the difference."

Photo BBC taken by a guy named Seatton...Seat on?
Not enough any more to just own the Louis Vuitton, it's about the spot on the floor where you choose to stash it during tea. So, before it was the Yixing teapot, and now it's Royal Doulton. Taking a look around, how many Chinese clay teapots do I have? Uh. I'm out of fingers and lose count. How many Royal Doultons with purple periwinkles? Zero. How many no-name cups and saucers? Zero. I comfort myself somewhat with the notion of "well, I'm an American and therefore can't possibly be expected to use cups and saucers," thus shoving the responsibility for Keeping Up Appearances onto my English neighbors across the lake. After all they started it.

But this doesn't address one huge potential problem of how much money the best vintage Yixing costs, and how much many of us may have paid, only to find out we'd have been better off hanging onto grandma's wedding set. And the picnic basket set with cloth napkins too, the kind that have to be starched and ironed. Does anyone even own an ironing board anymore? I do still have Irish linen tea napkins but the bother of ironing them has long gone by the wayside for me. I've found it's much easier to simply wipe my face on my sleeve. I figured I'd get along all right in China when I visit someday, what with my gong fu technique, expert schlurping, eagerness to belch aloud, and "you can't fool me that is not Qing dynasty" shopping finesse. NOW it turns out I can't even lean back in the chair anymore and pick my nose. No sir I have to sit straight up like a lady so my stocking tops don't show, losing any advantage at all I might have over the younger girls.

Next week I won't be able to find a tea set at the local charity shops. I might have to consider dumping my Yixing on EBay before the prices tank. And for sure I will have to cancel the trip to Hong Kong that wilson was hoping (or fearing) that I might join him for. Sorry wilson, I can send you some photos instead, yes ones of me but 30 years younger than I planned. Or maybe I could go after all and we could set up some kind of deal where I can get me $3000 per session teaching American style tea. Like how to put a tea bag in a 2 cup motel drip coffee maker and pour into styrofoam cups without spilling.

Honestly I don't know why I bother. The Year of the Goat might be the year when I will go back to teabags in the stained coffee mug. I just can't absorb any more new trends. My expiration date is coming up anyway, because Blogger just sent me this notice: "On March 23rd, Blogger will no longer allow certain sexually explicit content. Learn more here."

Requiescat in Pace.

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