A friend just visited the Hirshhorn’s Ai Weiwei retrospective and sent me this photo of his “tea house” sculptures made entirely of tea reporting that you could smell the tea as you got closer to the sculptures.
Tea sculptures and art forms are constructed in the tradition of post-processed teas like pu’er which is frequently shaped into tea cakes or tea bricks.
Historically tea, especially pu’er tea, was shaped into forms like tea cakes for ease of transportation on trading routes like the Ancient Tea Horse Road 茶马故道 (cha ma gu dao). Tea trading on this route meant tea traveled on the back of mules on precarious mountain roads for months from point of production to their destination market.
For more context on Ai Weiwei’s current situation as it relates to the Hirshhorn Retrospective read this great Ai Weiwei interview my friend Austin at Time Magazine wrote. You can also read New Yorker’s art critic Peter Schjeldahl’s review of Ai Weiwei’s retrospective.
- Explore the stories behind each of Tranquil Tuesdays teas and teaware
- Travel with Tranquil Tuesdays seeking the best teas and teaware in China
- Learn the historical and cultural elements that make Chinese tea and teaware so unique