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The Education on the Art of Chinese Tea Drinking: 
Exerting a Subtle yet Perceptible Influence on Our Visitors

Grace Kwok
Former Assistant Curator I, Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware

Established in 1984, the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware is the first specialised museum in the world devoted to the collection, study and display of tea ware and relevant information on tea culture. Apart from holding special exhibitions on tea ware, tea demonstrations have been organised weekly since the inauguration of the K.S. Lo Gallery, a new wing added in 1995. By holding regular tea demonstrations and tea classes over the past years, the Museum has successfully nurtured an ever-expanding local group of amateur tea lovers. We believe this is a solid step forward in the promotion of the art of Chinese tea culture.

Our endeavour to establish, popularise and cultivate a deep understanding of tea culture requires continuous effort, as there are no shortcuts on the way towards mastering any specific topic of interest. We have learned from our visitors that most have been inspired to drink tea by the visual impact of the exquisite tea ware collection on display. To satisfy their needs, the Museum has jointly organised two regular programmes with the Lock Cha Tea Shop, namely the "Gallery Tour and Tea Gathering" and the "Wuwo Tea Ceremony". Participants will have a chance to taste different kinds of tea and brew their own cups, which are distinctive from the ordinary tea drinking of Cantonese-style teahouses. We would dearly like to see more young people coming into contact with traditional Chinese tea culture to cultivate a deeper understanding and broaden their horizons. Our experience, however, has shown that this demographic mostly participate in our tea demonstration programmes as an extracurricular activity.

The question, then, is how to arouse the interest of our younger generation as well as to enhance their understanding and appreciation of traditional Chinese tea culture? It is not an easy question to answer. The Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware not only organises special exhibitions on tea ware and relevant topics on tea culture but also presents the "Classic of Tea" as well as a series of historical pictures on tea production by using computer media in creative and innovative ways. We hope to provide an enhanced and fascinating experience for our visitors, especially for groups of youngsters. The Museum invites school groups to make use of our free-guided tours, which are conducted by welltrained docents who not only introduce exhibitions but also serve as a channel of interactive communication with our visitors.

In addition, the Museum regularly organises tea ware competitions and exhibitions targeted towards promoting local ceramics art and stimulating general interest in tea culture among young potters. Recently, the Museum contributed to the production of an educational television programme on the topic of tea by the Education Bureau. This video programme will introduce young audiences to basic tea knowledge and enhance their appreciation for the art of Chinese tea drinking. The Museum will continue to exert a subtle yet noticeable influence on our visitors in the art of Chinese tea culture via various methods and different activities.

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