“There is much poetry and much feeling in a box of tea.” Ralf Waldo Emerson – Letters and social objectives.
There is a culture of food, there is a culture of coffee and there is a culture of tea. And they are all part of the art of living. Have you ever observed a passionate chef feel the ingredients and flavours, live his/her métier? We may not perceive eating and drinking coffee and tea as such, especially if we choose to live our lives on fast forward, thinking that this is something for the connoisseurs, something we read or hear about, something we don’t have the time, the patience or the wish to experience. I can easily picture some of my friends raising their eyebrows if they read this. But if we can’t or don’t want to make it part of our lifestyle, we can at least allow us the chance to be open, to learn about it and try it every once in a while. We just have to stop and live it. It would still make a difference.
The Plants Salon is part of the Nature & Distinction concept I have talked to you about before, a concept whose beautiful and noble aim is to initiate and guide us in “the art of being yourself” and in the art of living beautifully. I am glad to say that here, on Classiq, we will try to bring you closer to all the unique Nature & Distinction products, experiences and activities with regular articles.
It was here, in the Plants Salon, where I stopped and felt the plants in the hollow of my hand. That’s how the dialogue begins. You can choose your tea yourself, in case you are looking for a spontaneous experience, or you may let yourself guided by the sensory art consultant if you are interested in a sensorial journey. I, for example, chose the tea I wanted to have – No. 4, a scented floral mixture of white tea, Japanese cherry blossoms, tea blossom, rose petals and cherries, from the collection of 43 melanges only to find out that the owner and founder of Nature & Distinction, Alina Ieva (who never ceases to amaze me), had chosen the same one for me beforehand, based on what she had learned about me from our previous meetings.
I smelled the steam full of spices coming from all over the world, all 100% natural, all carefully curated and all made of plants from distant lands, harvested, dried and prepared after criteria learned from tea masters. And then you taste the tea and you step into the plant’s subtle universe. You feel how it starts its journey to your inner world and you start to believe that it has a purpose and a message. With the second cup, you discover yet another transformation, because the second cup of tea is never like the first one, not better or worse, just different. The plants, which have character and individuality, are in a perpetual transformation and you experience waves of sensations. “Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage.” Catherine Douzel.
“If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are hot, it will cool you. If you are sad, it will cheer you.
If you are filled with emotion, it will calm you”. 1865 – Gladstone.
“Few moments in a man’s life are more agreeable than those dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” – Henry James
The Plants Salon is the space where you will get initiated in the gustatory sensory art, guided by creativity, taste and refinement. The tea collection ranges from green tea and black tea (both appreciated by connoisseurs for their flavour, as well as for their therapeutic effects), to oolong tea (always a symbol of refinement) and white tea – its subtlety was wonderfully described by Master Lam Cam Khuen, specialist in traditional Chinese medicine, in the book The Way of Tea: “However, after a while, you realize a subtle change in breathing and a new sensation goes down your throat. It’s like when, in autumn, you take a deep breath and you can still feel a scent of summer in the air or when you play an instrument, you stop suddenly and you feel, for a long moment, that music still vibrates in the air…”
Just like in the cases of perfume, jewellery and cosmetics, creativity and science work together again. Some of the melanges are rare teas treasured around the world, each cup of tea full of fragrance, flavour and history. Some are scented teas with floral, fruity or spicy bouquets, smooth, delicate, but complex flavour, refined mixture created by molecular and psycho-informational criteria. And each one of them is waiting to be discovered – it only requires your attention, presence, openness and knowledge. “The human beings are permanently connected to everything surrounding us, the human being-plant connection can be reactivated any given moment”, Alina tells me. “This aspect is unknown, or better said, forgotten by some of us. Every human being registers the experiences, processes the information, passes everything through their personal cognitive filter, then comes the representation and the next step is the culture. Tea culture has only one beginning!”
Tea is served from porcelain teapots and in porcelain cups, made-to-order in Romania. Porcelain is considered part of the lifestyle of those who have discovered the art of living beautifully.
Each melange of tea has received a name in the form of a number, depending on the intrinsic symbol of the plants. The numerology is the inspirational source that makes the transition from the sensory world to the cognitive one.
The gustatory sensory art studio is specific to the Plants Salon, but if you are interested in a personalised tea to take home, that can be arranged as well. But I do believe that the sensorial journey you meet here is too unique not to try it and live it. The space, a specially designed visual and acoustic environment, simply and tastefully decorated and inviting to meditation and calmness, is ideal for taking a break from the hustle of the outer world and from the ordinary and having a moment by yourself. But you can also choose to share the experience with someone dear or a friend or two, or you can book a booth (Phoenix or Mandarin) or the entire attic for a special occasion.
Don’t hesitate to read on about the intention of the Plants Salon, about the history of tea and the history of porcelain, and much more on their official website. It’s fascinating!
Address: 17 Dr. Victor Babes Street, Clover Villa’s attic, District 5, Cotroceni, Bucharest
photos by me