The cicada is quite a fascinating little creature, appearing as a symbol of longevity or immortality throughout the arts of China and Japan over the past several centuries. The accompanying photographs are of a yixing teaset that we sometimes use for brewing and serving pu-er. The tea pouring down over the pot was the initial rinsing infusion, used in this case to help season the teapot.
“Some anthropologists and archaeologists have known for years that the ancient Chinese regarded cicadas as symbols of rebirth or immortality in much the same way as the early Egyptians thought of the sacred scarab. Unlike the latter case, however, few western entomologists are aware of cicada symbolism used by the early Chinese. It is not mentioned in any English language entomology textbook of which I am aware. It is noted in Lucy Clausen’s remarkable little book, Insect Fact and Folklore.
Writing in Japan, the colorful and prolific Lafcadio Hearn in his charming essay on cicadas (“Sémi”), reported: “In view of many complaints of Japanese poets about the noisiness of sémi, the reader may be surprised to learn that out of sémi-skins there used to be made in both China and Japan-perhaps upon homeopathic principles-a medicine for the cure of ear-ache!”
“Cicadas are fascinating insects. They are large, conspicuous, and attract attention with their interesting “songs.” No wonder the ancient Chinese accorded them such a high position in their folklore and in their art. Watching cicadas can engender awe in the observer. One student remarked that he had always considered cicadas rather magical, and could easily see how they came to have spiritual significance in old China.”
Excerpts are from Cicada in Chinese Folklore on the Cultural Entomology site.
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As someone that has done a fair amount of content on tea, I have a lot of mixed thoughts on the way information is passed. With tea reviews or discussing a specific tea I have struggled with the question: how to talk about an individual tea or tea in general in an interesting or useful way.. Whether you like or dislike TeaDB episodes largely depends on whether you enjoy watching two particular people drink and binter. This is fine enough and it is certainly fun for Denny & I to create, but I’ll also agree with the sentiment that it’s not necessarily the most substantive way to review a tea in depth. There’s some signal but there’s also a lot of noise. Writing about a specific tea also isn’t easy and I think is actually very difficult to execute in a way that is actually consistently interesting or useful for people. Most people just want to know if you liked or didn’t like a specific tea. Making something that piques interest beyond that is a challenge and even if you don’t like them a place like Mei Leaf has succeeded in creating content that really does engage their viewers. You also have to consider that the majority of people have not had the tea or are even unfamiliar with the basic taste profile (i.e. Denny & I describing a traditionally stored pu’erh, when the audience has never had one).. Here are some phrases I dislike and hear frequently enough that I find them unhelpful and sometimes even counter-productive.
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