I really enjoy visiting museums in Hong Kong – not only are they very affordable (some are completely free of charge, others just cost 10-20 HKD per person) but they also put great exhibitions on display.
This time I visited the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware in the Hong Kong Park. The museum puts on annual displays (here’s my post about the Hong Kong Potter competition in 2010-2011) and currently the exhibition on show is called ‘From Soya Bean Milk to Puer Tea’.
Now you might wonder what soya beans and milk have to do with tea – well there is an easy answer. Dr. K.S. Lo, the founder of the Hong Kong Soya Bean Products Company Limited (which is famous for its milk beverage Vitasoy), saw some old teapots in the window of a building in Central in 1950. The diverse shapes and forms caught his eye and he bought 30 teapots – which all happened to be Yixing purple clay teapots.
Since then he bought several hundred teapots – and he donated about 600 ceramic and purple clay tea vessels and related relics to the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware in 1981. This forms the core of the museum’s collection, which opened in 1984 (and hence this exhibition celebrates the 30th anniversary).
To further promote Chinese tea culture, Dr. Lo suggested to build a tea gallery next door – to hold tea demonstrations and other events. The exhibition hall on the upper level showcases previous ceramic antiques from the Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties, as well as Chinese seals from the Ming dynasty. This is part of the regular museum – but what is new is the exhibition on the first floor.
It showcases not only teapots from Yixing – but also an old shop with old Vitasoy bottles, sweets and snacks. There is some information about the Vitasoy Group (including the changes in packaging) but the majority of the exhibition showcases the start of the famous tea ware collection.
The exhibition runs from October 15, 2014 to November 11, 2015 so there is plenty of time for you to visit it. There are no fees, but make sure to take some money and time with you, to go to the tea house next door and sample some tea and snacks!