The Modern Tea Ritual: Tea as Social Expression

“My idea of the modern tea ritual involves a sense of play.” - Art Jeweler, Melody Juthamongkol

What is the modern tea ritual?

Nature X Design has partnered with emerging material artists to answer this question. These emerging artists reach back into their personal tea histories to inform their work, and propel us all forward into the modern era with their new creations.

Melody Juthamongkol is a jewelry artist originally from Phuket, Thailand, and a graduate from Ontario College of Art and Design’s Material Art and Design Program. Juthamongkol is acutely aware of changes to modern rituals, and has used those changes as inspiration.

The culture of the modern era cannot be separated from the rise of social media, impacting every branch of life, including our personal and public rituals. More and more often people are posting their personal rituals online, and in the act of posting a new element of that ritual is formed. The very act of sharing becomes part of the ritual. For her analysis of the modern tea ritual Juthamongkol is creating a tool to enhance the aesthetics of the modern tea experience, while harkening back to traditional tea infusion methods. 

Read on to learn how a young artist is uniting the modern and traditional tea experience.

All photos and images are curtesy of Melody Juthamongkol.

The Idea

“As I currently reside in Taipei, Taiwan, I have noticed the rise in popularity of boba or bubbles, edible pearl beads made from tapioca starch. People want their drinks to be ‘instagrammable’ (aesthetically pleasing enough to post on social media). The act of posting is highly commonplace and in a way, ritualistic.

Cold drinks specifically are an ideal vessel for food aesthetic experimentation. Additional components such as bubbles, puddings, etc. can be added to the drink without melting, and thus shown off easily in photography. Cold drinks, especially shakes and blends, can be layered and mixed to form colourful gradients. Ornamentations such as straws, cocktail umbrellas, sprinkles, and more can be added in without disrupting the drink.

However, hot drinks have more health benefits. My goal is to reintroduce and popularise hot beverages for new generations through “Instagrammable” drinks for aesthetics and social media showcasing.” – Melody 

Inspired by social media tea sharing, and motivated by the health benefits of hot tea, Melody’s project aims to create a visually pleasing hot tea infusion, that is worthy of posting online. Through 3D printing unique tea infusers, which in themselves are a work of art, Melody is visually enhancing the modern hot tea experience.

Realization

Melody made several prototypes of the infuser using 3D printing. Each prototype was tested with a variety of TEALEAVES loose leaf teas and blends, until the optimal shape and material was found.

 
Final prototype

 

“The idea of personalizing one’s tea and being able to have fun through mixing and matching the flavours is enticing. Hopefully, the delightful visuals of the transformative drink via the ‘pearl tea infuser’ will capture the attention of modern generations to get the drink and carry out their ritual online beverage postings. variation contained within.”

Each unit would contain different types of tea that brew in different colours, allowing for personalization of one’s tea through the mixing of tea and colours each tea brews.

 

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Final Infusion

The tea infuser is made up of five petals, giving the drinker opportunity to create their own unique blend of up to five loose leaf teas. The final personal infusion that takes place when using Melody’s infuser reflects the modern eras focus on self expression.

Explore other expressions of the modern tea ritual here.

See more from Melody on her website.