Identi-tea is an experiential art project focused on helping participants develop their capacity for finding greater delight through their sense of taste (aka cultivating gustatory aesthetics) through tea.
It is part of our Taste Series (manifesto here) body of work, where we explore different approaches of accessing our sense of taste and redefining our relationship with our gustatory senses.
I hope through this project/piece of work, people will learn more about themselves: their personal stories, their bodies, their sense of taste and their relationship with their sense of taste. Through this process, I also hope that participants will learn about other people and of course, learn about tea.
I hope people realize that there is more to food than just nutrition and flavor, that behind the different tastes and flavors of food are stories, meanings and connections.
I hope to help people realize that there are joys to be found even in the seemingly banal and mundane things in everyday life, if we just paid a little more attention, or approached these things with a different mindset. To see things from a new angle.
In a post-Covid world, I feel like this ability to do more with less, to discover, cherish and appreciate the little moments of delight in our everyday lives is important in keeping ourselves buoyant during hard times.
But I'd like to emphasize that Identi-tea is not a prescriptive or even an advocative piece. I am not trying to prescribe a way of life.
If you would like to apply these ideas in your daily lives, great. Or if you choose to take this approach to other aspects of your life instead of food, that is also fine too.
In fact, it is okay to still not like tea, to choose not to approach tea in an aesthetic manner or use your taste for deeper engagements.
All if that is totally fine.
I just want you to know that these options, these perspective exists.
What you make of or with this information, is entirely up to you.
Because the intention of Identi-tea and taste series, is about sharing, not changing.
With so many foods and beverages out there in the world, why did we choose to work with tea over everything else?
The obvious answer is, I like tea.
But I love chocolate, so this makes for a poor explanation.
Perhaps a better answer would be, in Asia it is often said that tea is a great way to learn about yourself.
In fact, historically, in Chinese culture tea is held in the same regard as a person, and treated with the same respect as one treats a person.
There are indeed many parallels between people and tea.
Just as how all humans are homo sapiens, all tea come from the family Camellia Sinensis. Yet, depending on where the tea is grown and how it's processed, they take on different flavors and profiles. Even teas of the same varietal can taste different when grown and made differently. Much like how nature and nature affects people.
And like people, tea takes time to open up.
In fact, how you choose to brew a cup of tea can bring out different expressions of flavors. Just like how you get to see different sides of people as you spend more time with them under a multitude of circumstances.
But I suppose if we dug even deeper. On a subconscious level, perhaps I'm drawn to tea because of its philosophical roots.
Afterall, in the center of Teaism is the Zennist notion of "the greatness in the smallest incidents of life". Which is precisely the ideal that drives and informs my practice in art and in life.
It's always the little things in life.