Chinese artist forms elaborate images using whisked tea foam in revival of Song Dynasty’s cultural splendor

(People's Daily Online) 11:09, March 10, 2022

A man who has developed a personal obsession with the tea culture of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) has impressed many with his abilities to make whisked tea, applying his techniques to create vivid images with the tea foam produced in the process. Viewers of his works have relayed their sentiments, saying that the creations represent the distinctive artistic tastes of the Chinese people.

Photo shows Han Zheming making a cup of tea. (Photo/yangtse.com)

Han Zheming, 40, graduated from the China Academy of Art. While collecting porcelain products that date back to the Song Dynasty, and tea wares in particular, Han gradually developed an interest in the tea culture of the Song Dynasty, especially the magical craft of whisking tea.

Han tried seven different types of tea powder until he finally decided on white tea as the raw material to create his whisked tea, with white tea being slightly sweet to the taste, and which is capable of producing a white and delicate foam upon being whisked, providing ideal conditions for forming the foam into pictures.

“I learned the craft by myself, having practiced multiple times before finally mastering the skills. To successfully make a cup of whisked tea, hand-wrist coordination is of vital importance,” Han explained, adding that it takes between 180 to 200 times of repeated whisking of the tea before a thick layer of foam appears on its surface.

Photo shows an artistic work created by Han Zheming. (Photo/yangtse.com)

“Whisking tea was a tea culture that spread widely among dignitaries and in the literary and art circles during the Song Dynasty,” introduced Han, saying that he is now more or less able to make a cup of whisked tea that fits the descriptions of a specific tea artwork found in historical records about the Song Dynasty.

Inspired by the craft of creating images made of tea foam, a unique kind of tea culture originating from the Song Dynasty, Han embarked on a journey of forming creative images with tea foam. Although he is a painter by trade, Han admitted that drawing images with tea foam is not an easy craft and even a person who knows how to paint will have to learn the craft from scratch.

“Unlike using a brush to draw a picture on paper, using a teaspoon to draw a picture with tea foam, which is very soft, is a completely different thing,” said Han. To improve his skills, Han always went to museums to observe paintings that dated back to the Song Dynasty in an attempt to understand more about the painting techniques that people in ancient times had adopted for their use.

When creating his own artistic works, Han Zheming has drawn inspiration from Chinese masterpieces and paintings that date back to the Song Dynasty. (Photo/yangtse.com)

Han said that he has to be careful and fast when drawing pictures with tea foam, adding that he must finish a work within three to five minutes, which is how long it takes before the foam begins to dissipate and disappear. He also explained that the images made of tea foam remain on the surface of the tea for somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour. As a beginner, he often failed multiple times and had to start over again and again.

Han created most of his artistic works by drawing inspiration from paintings that date back to the Song Dynasty, while according to the man, the images he created with tea foam also convey the beauty of Chinese ink wash paintings.

Over the past six years, Han has created nearly 200 images with tea foam by imitating masterpieces that date back to the Song Dynasty.

Photo shows Han Zheming forming an image with tea foam. (Photo/yangtse.com)

The man also promotes his works on a short-video platform in an attempt to popularize and carry forward the craft. The videos garnered much attention and recognition from their viewers, with some people saying that Han’s works show the distinctive artistic tastes of the Chinese people, while others expressed that Han has inherited a marvelous craft of ancient China. 

Han Zheming’s craft of whisking tea, which dates back to the Song Dynasty, has reached a wider audience after the man used a short-video sharing platform to showcase his creative works. (Photo/yangtse.com)

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


Related Stories