“Let’s stay open, wait and drink tea” – this is what the C*SPACE Co-Working and Project Space Team in Berlin set itself as a motto when the first Corona lockdown was announced. During the summer of 2020 regular TEA TIMES in the outdoor yard of C*SPACE – a former furniture factory – started gaining popularity and paved the way for more and more enthusiasm around TEA CULTURE and the concept of TEA HOUSES as “institutions” for social life, culture and the arts (equivalent to the European Cafe House). With a traditional tea house in mind (such as for example the ones in Sichuan China), the “Pop-Up Teahouse Berlin” idea was born: based on the power of drinking tea together, we aspired to create an open and informal space to relax and rest, and at the same time – a social space to rethink and discuss ideas. A place for the Asia Berlin community as much as for anyone else curious about and attracted to this idea. A place with a stage for the performing arts. Surrounded by the context of the former industrial area of the “Gründerviertel Weißensee” with a heritage of lots of yards for craftsmanship, the Teahouse of course had to also offer arts & craft workshops.
Fuelled by the beauty of the vision and thanks to our supporters – The Berlin Town Hall and its International Relations Department, the Asia Berlin Forum Association and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, who all saw the value of fostering a better understanding and building bridges between and with each other in an otherwise increasingly polarised and disconnected world – the Pop-Up Teahouse Berlin idea came to life!
Let us walk you through the 6 Teahouse Saturdays and the different formats we created: the TEA TIME HANGOUTS, the ART WORKSHOPS, the TEAHOUSE TALKS, the TEA LEARNING SESSIONS and the EVENING PERFORMANCES, and offer you a glimpse of what happened during July and October 2021, giving you an overall impression of the Pop-Up Teahouse, which the community co-created together with us.
Community Space: TEA TIME HANGOUTS
Following our idea of TEA TIME HANGOUTS, from morning to evening the green backyard of C*SPACE transformed in a beautiful calm Teahouse with colourful lanterns, little fairy lights and candles, green plants and fresh herbs. The Teahouse tea bar, cosily placed under a tree, offered a free flow of hot water, snacks to share, various types of tea and several options: to take a cup or teapot, choose a tea from our selection or bring your own and share with others, with a little twist of adding a fresh herb, or stop by at the tea bar for a gong fu cha – a Chinese tea ceremony.
The Teahouse yard welcomed different pop-up visitors. Some of them came from the neighbourhood, some from different parts of Berlin, and some even from other towns and countries. There were many friendly encounters, new connections and beginnings of friendships, but also sweet reunions of old friends who had not seen each other for a long time and came together in the Teahouse. Drinking tea, relaxing, laughing and chatting, enjoying each other’s company, it is heart-warming to experience connecting, reconnecting and planting new seeds for future gatherings.
Workshop Space: Art, Design, Cultural Techniques
The rich ART WORKSHOP program of the Pop-Up Teahouse combined hands-on learning of art and cultural techniques from professionals, with experimenting, creating and having fun together. Some of the creatives, offering the workshops, are old friends who have been part of the community for a long time,where others joined us for the first time now – all of them bringing an inspiring creative flow. Briefly speaking, those are the workshops which happened in the frame of the Pop-Up Teahouse:
- AUG 7th Learning the cultural techniques of the ancient traditional Chinese art and the practice of writing calligraphy with Andreas Schmid, artist and lecturer for Chinese calligraphy;
- AUG 14th Social wooden-cloth sculpture with Elan Zsang and Zhang Ruo from Forest Studio, Creating a mini-Book with Chinese characters with Yimeng Wu (Studio Wu);
- AUG 21st Leaning multilingual lettering between Latin and Chinese Scripts with Roman Wilhelm; Making Tangyuan, traditional Chinese dessert making with Hong Mai Dang, Vietnamese tea enthusiast and confiserie apprentice at Café Vienna;
- SEPT 11th Re-thinking and Re-using materials from our daily life with Rubing Zhang, and Clothing Upcycling and Reassembly with Schmidttakahashi;
- SEPT 18th Learning about Kintsugi – upcycling of broken porcelain with Satoko Toyoda, founder of studio Kintsugi-Berlin.
- OCTOBER 9th Indigo Dyeing and coloring with Ayumi Yamamoto, founder of Indigo Studio LEM
Thinking Space: TEA TALKS
Combining informal talks and group discussions in bigger and smaller circles, the Tea Talks provided food for thought: we invited people from various disciplines and walks of life to talk with us about questions that matter, to them, as individuals and to us, as larger society.
Here you find the list of our Tea Talk guests and topics, for more in depths review on contents of the discussions you might also see this article REVIEW: What Mattered at the Pop-Up Teahouse 2021.
- AUG 7th China Berlin Avantgarde 2021 with Carmen Herold, cultural theorist and co-founder of the 招待所 Zhao Dai Club in Beijing, Andreas Schmid, artist and co-initiator of “China Avantgarde”and Adam Langer, founder of Agency & artistic director
- AUG 14th about China with Oliver Radtke and Dr. Jing Bartz
- AUG 21th Global and local COVID-19 impact on personal level, as well as awareness building on COVID-19 diplomacy with Pisen Sou, Sourina Bej, Deepica Sachdeva and Devika Dua, fellows from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation
- SEPT 11th Food, art, climate change and living in between worlds with Li Zhen Hua, artist, curator, former chef, Berlin/Zuerich and Silvan Hagenbrock, editor of Yi magazine, urbanist, filmmaker
- SEPT 18th Tea talk on ‘living between Asia and Berlin”for which we had invited six women to share their experiences, with Lu Mei, founder of Gallery Migrant Birds Space, Kerstin Duell, photographer and researcher, Kika Yang, filmmaker, Keumhwa Kim, art curator, Waltraut Ritter, researcher and Pin-Ji Tang, technical writer.
- OCT 9th Tea talk on “entrepreneurship: from idea to initiative, from culture to community, from social interaction to social innovation” with Naho Iguchi, artist, ecosystem designer, NION Berlin, Mini Kapur, founder of the gallery Under the Mango Tree and Dr. Ines Eben v. Racknitz, professor of sinology and historian.
Tea Learning Space
Central for the teahouse, of course, is the tea – during the Tea Learning Sessions we learned about different teas, how to brew them, how they taste, where they came from and what are the stories of the people growing them. We were lucky to be have great tea experts, independent tea labels and small boutiques, joining us and sharing their knowledge. We also did not miss out to look into the relationship to tea, history, globalization and colonialism. We learned a lot, including how tea was first discovered: it was by Shen Nung back in ancient China, 5,000 years ago when leaves from a tree blew into his cup of boiling water.
- AUG 7th Gongfu Cha for Beginners and Introduction to the spectrum of Oolong teas with Kwok Ying von Beunigen, founder of the tea label “Die Kunst des Tees“;
- AUG 14th “Where the Clouds are Nutrients” – Sichuan Tea Regions in China & High Mountain Tea Testing with Cordula Paetzel, the founder of independent tea label BEIMAKE;
- AUG 21st “What happens if Chinese Gongfu Cha arrives in Berlin?” with Claudia Priemer representing Xian Tea – “Tea is the Answer”;
- SEPT 11th Oolong Tea Tasting with Gabriele Messina, founder of Nannuoshan, accompanied by Maja von dem Bougart who offered her knowledge on the colonial history of tea;
- SEPT 18th Gyokuro workshop and using the spent tea leafs to prepare a gentle vegan tofu dish with Yumi Tanabe.
- OCT 9th Taiwanese tea tasting with Oliver Seifert, founder of KOS TEA-Make tea, not war.
Space for the Arts & Performances
In the evenings, the Teahouse opened a stage for the arts. From intimate vulnerable singer-songwriter performances to astonishing improvisations, the audience enjoyed a beautiful evening program. Differing in style and mood, all of the performances were moving and emotional.
- AUG 7th The very first Pop-Up Teahouse performance was opened by a beautiful concert by Ditty, an independent singer-songwriter from India. Then, we saw an insightful and thought-provoking performance by the filmmaker Popo Fan and the playwright Dora Cheng, moderated by Kai Tuchmann. Dora presented her theatre play “Schattenspiel”, reflecting the feeling of alienation and the lost identity in languages, the play was read by actors Li Yuan and Davide Di Palo. Followed by the screenings of three short films by Popo Fan, who talked about queer foodism and identity.
- AUG 14th Taiwanese DJ BB Deng energised the yard with her music, followed by an exchange from the audience about the impression of Taiwan, moderated by Katelijn Verstraete. As the sky darkened, we screened the documentary film “Let the wind carry me” in the courtyard, a visual poetry of one of Taiwan’s best cinematographers, Mark Lee, in cooperation with Taiwan Film Festival Berlin.
- AUG 21st Dance and music performance”WATER / 水 / WASSER” by Tian Gao and Giorgio de Santis, was breathtakingly beautiful. Tian embraced the space playing with the objects in the yard, flowing like water through the audience and improvising on the words she was given by everybody at the start. Her piece leaves an unforgettable footprint in C*SPACE, embodying the spirit of ‘Common Space, Everything Flows 一切皆流” which was the first in-situ art piece in C*SPACE that emerged here last year by Qian Geng. An impression of this performance can be viewed here.
- SEPT 11th “Colors of Sounds” – live painting by Berlin-based Shanghainese artist Lavia Lin, and live music by Israeli jazz guitarist Tal Arditi. Full of splashing colours and dancing melodies, Lavia painted to the music of Tal, creating a harmonious dialogue between sounds and colours. An impression of this performance can be viewed here.
- SEPT 18th Cozy evening concert by singer-songwriter 龚凯 Kai Gong, 《过哲学的生活》LIVE PHILOSOPHY, accompanied by Michael Tezak, singer-songwriter and guitarist. On this chilly autumn night, we shared a wonderful intimate concert with blankets and hot tea. Kai’s engaging lyrics on his courage to follow his passions, toxic masculinity, being confronted with social and family expectations, studying and living philosophy, were an honest personal reflection. Kai openly shared this with us and gave us the opportunity to take a moment and reflect ourselves on our own experiences with these topics.
- OCT 9th Pop-Up Teahouse Open Mic was an evening full of surprises, relaxing atmosphere as the visitors and regulars joined the stage, reading poetry, performing original songs and covers, and sharing stories of the teahouse events.
What is a Pop-Up Teahouse without Pop-Up surprises?
- Community engagement, knowledge skill exchange.: volunteer and host of the tea bar, filmmaker Amir Steklov shared his passion about Koji, a hobby he developed over the lockdown, by hosting a Workshop: learning about Koji – the funk of Asian fermentation
- Communication designer Roman Wilhelm performed the songs “Moon Cake Song” and “Bus 589” he wrote about his life in China. You can listen to his song here.
- Pop-Up Exhibition “China 1961 – 2021 Traces of Change”: Jakob Becker was presenting a collection of colorful photos taken by his great-grandfather, Dr. Horst Köntopp, in 1961 when he went to China as a doctor. He retraced his great-grandfather’s path and capture the same motifs again from identical points of view. The photo collection showcases 285 historical colour photographs from 1961 of the cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Foshan and Conghua alongside the same images taken 60 years later by Jakob Becker.
- Open Stage: unexpected guests and performances dared to come out at the open stage of the last Pop-Up Teahouse, sharing their secret talents: KAS fellow Deepica Sachdeva sang the Indian song Rupaiya; Shwan, who teaches Yoga regularly at C*SPACE read the poem “My I.Q.” by Ani DiFranco; Veli, our Pop-Up Teahouse core team member, performed several songs with her friends Eli, Denis and Emely. Mina Wang, who supported us at the reception, jumped out of her comfort zone and sang the song “It’s Yesterday Once More”. Jonathan Fischer, who supported us with sound and technique during the Teahouse, performed his original music. Needless to say, the evening was full of laughter, music and warmth.
- Art pieces- illustrations and doodles by visitors were often found at the events, one of our Pop-Up Teahouse volunteers, Mina Wang made little illustrations capturing beautiful moments of the Teahouse. Our designer Yimeng Wu, who created the Pop-Up Teahouse visual identity also made some drawings inspired by the events.
Space for cooking and eating together
We were honoured to have Asian Kitchen in Berlin and Cozymazu as our food partners throughout the teahouse series. The aroma of homemade food was in the air, when Asian Kitchen in Berlin used the kitchen in C*SPACE to prepare some traditional Indian, Thai, Chinese dishes with lots of care and fresh ingredients.
The TEA TALK on 11. Sept was transformed into a communal dumpling-making session. Exchanging ideas and talking about topics such as climate change, ethics and living in between world, while preparing food together, got us thinking: Food is the best reminder that grounds us every day in our real life microcosms, that provides the best common ground for building relations, yet at the same time triggers us to think about some larger macrocosm casualties and last but n0t least, about the origins of “what we live on”.
Pop-Up Teahouse Visual Identity
The beautiful Pop-up Teahouse visual identity is created by Yimeng Wu, our long-term partner and designer. The vibrant and cheerful colours of orange, green, yellow and white can be found all over the visuals and motifs throughout the Pop-up Teahouse events.
Check out the photographic impressions of Wang Keyao and Davide di Santos, who have both captured the unique atmosphere built-up over the course of 6 events!
And enjoy watching the short film “Wasser / 水/ Water” created by Giorgio di Santis with video material from @Randolfe di Camarotto of Tiao Gao’s site-specific dance performance in the C*SPACE yard- making for a most amazing late summer night at the Teahouse Stage.
Behind the Scenes: Pop-Up Teahouse Project Team Members
Thank you, Jan Siefke and Katja Hellkötter, founders of C*SPACE, for initiating the Pop-Up Teahouse project and sharing with us your passion for tea and cultures.
Thank you, our partners and co-funders David Merkle from Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Petra Schwarz from Senate Chancellery of the Governing Major of Berlin and Annette Heimann, from Asia Berlin Forum.
Thank you, team members, Lavia Lin, Veli Karaivanova, Aaron van Blerkom, Jessie Gao, Mina Wang, Jonathan Fischer, Amir Steklov, Gerrit Manke and Samuel Drewes
ABOUT THE INITIATORS AND PARTNERS
The project is an initiative by C*SPACE and its founders Katja Hellkötter and Jan Siefke, in cooperation with Lavia Lin, artist and cultural manager, as well as with Annette Heimann, managing director of Asia Berlin Forum e.V. (ABF).
Partners & Supoprters
The project is co-funded by Senate Chancellery of the Governing Mayor of Berlin, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation , as well as Asia Berlin Forum e.V .