Place Making at C*SPACE Berlin: Impressions from Pop-Up Teahouse Summer 2021

Author Lavia Lin
Published October 2021
Location Berlin Weißensee

“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 lock-down kicked-in. During the summer of 2020 regular TEA TIMES in the outdoor yard of C*SPACE – a former furniture factory – began to be popular, and paved the way to get more and more enthusiastic about 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 experienced in Sichuan China), the “Pop-Up Teahouse Berlin” idea was born:  Based on the power of drinking tea together, we want to create an open an 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 curious an and attracted. A place with a stage for the performing arts as well.  And being in a context of a former industrial area of the “Gründerviertel Weißensee” with a heritage of lots of yards for craftsmanship, the Teahouse should also not miss out on offering arts & craft workshops.

Fuelled by the beauty of the vision and thanks to 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 better understanding and building bridges between and with each other, in an otherwise increasingly polarised and disconnected world – the Pop-Up Teahouse Berlin idea was brought to live!

Let us walk you through the 5 Teahouse Saturdays and the different formats that we had 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 has 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 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 sinologie 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 is the story of the people growing them. We were lucky to 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. Tea was first discovered 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.
Ditty singing original songs
Davide Di Palo and Li Yuan reading the script “Schattenspiel” by Dora Cheng
Popo Fan presents the topic “queer foodism and identity”
DJ BB Deng
Film Screening “Let the wind carry me”
Live Painting music concert by Lavia Lin and Tal Arditi
Isareli jazz guitarist Tal Arditi
Live Philosophy Concert
Dance Performance Tian Gao
Open Mic

Pop-Up Space

A section about things which have POPPED-UP

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 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.”, Veli, our Pop-Up Teahouse core team member sang with her friends among the others. 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 sounds and techniques, performed his original music. The evening was full of laughters, 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 made the Pop-Up Teahouse visual also made drawings inspired by the events.
Amir presenting on Koji
Roman Wilhelm singing
Jakob Becker introducing his project “China 1961-2021 Traces of Change”
KAS Fellow Deepica Sachdeva singing
Veli and her friends singing
Schwan reading the poem “My I.Q.”
Jonathan Fischer singing original songs
Mina Wang
Yimeng Wu drawing

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 home-made food was in the air, when Asian Kitchen in Berlin used the kitchen in C*Space and carefully prepared the food with fresh ingredients.

The tea talk on 11. Sep was transformed into a communal dumpling-making session. 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” .

Co-Founder of Asian Kitchen in Berlin Jing Li making dumplings
Making dumplings with Tea Talk guest Li Zhen hua

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.

Behind the scene-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 Heiman, from Asia Berlin Forum.

Thank you, team members, Lavia Lin, Veli Karaivanova, Aaron van Blekorm, Jessie Gao, Mina Wang, Jonathan Fischer, Amir Steklov, Gerrit Menkel and Samuel Drewes

Katja Hellkötter, Co-Founder of C*SPACE Berlin, Co-Initiator CITYMAKERS China-Europe Network
Jan Siefke, Co-founder of C*SPACE
David Merkle, China Projects, Asia Department, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Berlin
Petra Schwarz, International Relations Department, Senate Chancellery of the Governing Major of Berlin
Amir Steklov, host of the tea bar
C*SPACE intern Aaron van Blekorm, co-curator Lavia Lin, C*SPACE founders and Pop-Up Teahouse initiators Jan Siefke and Katja Hellkötter
Jessie Gao
Gerrit Manke, C*SPACE external student team, member of CITYMAKERS network
Katja Hellkötter and Samuel Drewes, student helpers team
Jonathan Fischer, Musician, Technical Support Team, and Veli Karaivanova, C*SPACE core team

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 .

For more photo impressions, please browse through our Facebook album and our Instagram page.

Thank you Keyao Wang (Zhijian Workshop), Davide Di Palo and Jan Siefke for the wonderful photos!