Tapestry in Tea

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Pulled tea, poured with a flourish and sweetened to delight Asian tea drinkers, inspired artist Red Hong Yi to create a larger-than-life tapestry depicting “The Tarik Man” using 20,000 stained teabags.


Photo courtesy of Red Hong Yi.

“I wanted to create a piece that reflected an everyday scene in Malaysia that reminds me of home. Teh Tarik (which means ‘pulled-tea’ in Malay) is a drink served in local coffee shops (or kopitiams) that is sweet, frothy and milky, and is frothed up when tea is poured between two containers. Perhaps more important than the drink itself is the underlying culture. Locals gather in kopitiams and mamaks, and here they talk about where to buy the best durians, the traffic, politics, weather, soccer… It is a drink that brings people together and I hope that I get to share a bit of my country through this piece!” she writes.

Hong Yi’s work was on display at the World Economic Forum in Davos. She began by staining the bags into 10 shades of brown by carefully steeping each and then drying the 440 pounds of tea bags. It took two months for the Malaysian artist to attach the tea to a wire frame and perfect the installation.

Photo courtesy of Red Hong Yi.

Photo courtesy of Red Hong Yi.

In this video she assembles the work which has generated 250,000 views on YouTube.

To add dimension she hung her impression of soft drink cans and a kacang (shaved ice) machine in front of the Tarik as props.

Hong Yi works without a paintbrush, creating works of everyday, ordinary materials such as sewn cloth, carnations, coffee cup stains, cabbage leaves, a basketball dipped in paint and flower petals.

“Ironically I think I drank more coffee than tea making this piece to keep myself awake,” she writes.

Learn more at: Facebook or OhISeeRED

Sources: YouTube, TEDxKL, Facebook, Huffington Post

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Dan Bolton

About Dan Bolton

Dan Bolton edits STiR Tea & Coffee Industry International. He was formerly editor and publisher of World Tea News and former editor and publisher of Tea Magazine and former editor-in-chief of Specialty Coffee Retailer. He is a beverage retail consultant and frequent speaker at industry seminars and conferences. His work has appeared in many beverage publications. He was a newspaper reporter and editor for 20 years prior to his career in magazines. Dan is the founding editor of Natural Food magazine and has led six publishing ventures since 1995. He lives in Winnipeg, Canada.