“Tea is comprehensive art,” says Kim Eui-jung (’62, Voice), Chairwoman of Myung Won Cultural Foundation and Holder of Intangible Cultural Asset Number 27, Royal Court Tea Ceremony. The windy days of November howl for a gulp of something tingly and warm. So what do you say to a quick cup of steaming art?
According to Kim, tea is not just a healthy drink, but an experience. It refreshes the heart and soul, and beautifies the person’s inner self. It is also a way to have a sip of what is considered as the fundamental core of ’s spiritual and cultural heritage. She calls it a pot rich with history and traditional etiquette. The Myung Won Cultural Foundation, where the name Myung Won translates into “Tea Garden,” believes propriety and respect is a crucial ingredient of a well brewed cup of tea. “My personal love for tea comes from the free, but orderly nature of it,” said Kim, who thrives to restore and preserve traditional Korean tea culture in the face of instant tea products and flimsy tea bags. “It holds a unique softness and flexibility, but also calls for proper procedures.”
A group of students at Ewha also share this love for such traditional tea culture. The members of Da-yun-hui, say they drink tea together regularly because of the warmth it brings into relationships. “The warm steam is dissolved into the people who drink it,” said Lee Su-yun (Business, 2), president of Da-yun-hui. “It’s easier to open-up over a warm cup of tea and become closer to each other.” Though following the proper procedures of brewing tea may be “finicky,” Lee says it is the best way to enjoy its unique scent. “You’ll get to know that tea actually tastes sweet, once it is brewed the proper way.”
Kim gave a few suggestions for the students and exchange students of Ewha to spend a warm fall and winter. “Traditional green tea is a good choice for it is both easy to find and very healthy,” said Kim. Traditional green tea has a vivid color and flavor, and large amounts of minerals and vitamin C. It is easily found on the Internet and tea shops. “It is also a good representative of and will serve as a memorable image to exchange students.”
As another useful tip, Kim strongly recommends dried tea leaves over tea bags. “It generally costs about twenty thousand to thirty thousand won, which is about a month’s worth of coffee or vitamins. But tea is healthier and more effective than either one.”
Lee and Kim both recommend the chrysanthemum flower tea, which is made of yellow, whole-dried flowers that blossom when brewed in hot water. “It’s pretty to look at, and has a fall-like scent to it,” said Lee. Kim also commented that the chrysanthemum flower tea is particularly good for women. “It includes healthy nutrients and provides heat to the body, which is important for women and especially female students,” said Kim. “But the most important thing is to appreciate the traditional value of the tea itself and show efforts to enjoy it to its fullest.”