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"Yuanyang" exhibition showcases the contemporary ceramic art


Have you ever tasted "Yuanyang", a unique Hong Kong style beverage?

If Yes, you must find it hard to forget the smoothness and the rich flavour of this special drink! To many Hong Kong people, it is such a nice thing to have a sip of "Yuanyang" at a tea break or at a relaxed weekend afternoon when you can feel extremely comfortable with your nerves soothed by such a tasty drink. Of course you will find it especially refreshing to have it gone with those elegantly-made utensils, which will give you extra visual enjoyment doubling the delight offered by the drink.

"Yuanyang" is a species of water birds literally known as mandarin duck. Since "Yuanyang" always appear in pairs during the mating season, it is thus adopted as a symbol of conjugal love or a depiction of things that come in pairs. The term is also applied to a native Hong Kong style beverage invented by "cha canting" (Hong Kong style cafe / restaurant). Typical "Yuanyang" drink mixes black tea (originating from China) with milk (a Western style of tea drinking) and coffee (originating from Africa), which reflects a fusion of Eastern and Western cultures in Hong Kong.

To foster an understanding of the living culture in Hong Kong and the appreciation of ceramic art as well, the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware (Museum of Tea Ware) will in its new exhibition entitled "Yuanyang: An Exhibition of Coffee and Tea Vessels" feature over 100 items of coffee and tea vessels and ceramic sculptures specially designed on the theme by 46 noted Hong Kong artists. This exhibition will run from tomorrow (February 12) to October 13.

Under the influence of over a hundred years' colonial governance by the British, Hong Kong has developed a unique eating and drinking culture which blends the essence of East and the West, and "Yuanyang", a native Hong Kong style beverage, is one of such examples. It was introduced by "cha canting" or "dai paidong" (street-side food stalls) to meet the demand of epicurean fusion of Hong Kong people. The special features of "Yuanyang" lie on its smoothness that comes from the milk tea, and the rich flavour from coffee. And because of that unique flavour, "Yuanyang" becomes a popular drink in Hong Kong.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the exhibition today (February 11), the Acting Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Ms Choi Suk-kuen, noted that: "As early as the 17th century, Chinese tea had reached the West through trades. In Britain, the people liked to drink black tea with milk or lemons and had gradually developed their unique afternoon tea culture. The British style of eating and drinking has exerted considerable influence on the lifestyle of the Hong Kong people until nowadays. When we say "Yuanyang", apart from its original meaning of mandarin duck, it is also a colloquial word which represents a drink mixed with half coffee and half black tea with milk popular in many Hong Kong restaurants. This typical Hong Kong style beverage blending the cultural essence of the East and the West reflects the identity of the cosmopolitan city of Hong Kong - unique yet diversified and traditional yet modernistic."

This exhibition sees the superb creativity of not only potters, but also ceramic artists and artists of other media who explored the possibilities in working with clay as materials to exchange their artistic ideas on the theme of "Yuanyang". Over 100 items of coffee and tea vessels as well as ceramic sculptures ranging from naturalistic, geometric to abstract sculptural or even avant-garde forms are featured. They are further embellished with elements of painting, calligraphy or engraving to enhance their aesthetic values. The artistic originality and diversity of the artists are fully illustrated.

Apart from the fascinating coffee and tea vessels on display, the exhibition also features a wide range of topics pertinent to tea, tea ware, teahouse and coffee, through display boards rich in explanatory texts and pictures. The topics covered are: The Origin of Chinese Teahouses, A Brief History on the Development of Chinese Teahouses and Restaurants in Hong Kong, Modernistic Chinese Teahouses, Essential Tea Vessels, The Enchanting Pu'er, Tea Goes to the West, Tea Book, The Legend of Coffee, Coffee Cups, Vacuum-pot Brewing, Utensils for Coffee Making, What is Yuanyang?, and The Artists' Perspectives of Yuanyang.

The Museum of Tea Ware is located at 10 Cotton Tree Drive, Central, Hong Kong (inside Hong Kong Park). It opens from 10 am to 5 pm daily and closes on Tuesdays. Admission is free. For more information, please visit the Museum of Tea Ware's website at or call 2869 0690.

End/Tuesday, February 11, 2003

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