Tie Guan Yin  by Michelle Samerjan
(Iron Goddess)

21.375" (w) x 27.5" (h) unframed
54 cm (w) x 70 cm (h)

30" (w) x 36" (h) with custom frame
76.2 cm (w) x 91.45 cm (h)

Acrylic and gold paint on hand-made French watercolor paper mounted onto museum board, veiled over with hand-made Japanese rice lace, then bathed in melted archival beeswax and UV-resistant polymers, bordered by insets of contemporary Indian gold-threaded fabric, all mounted onto embossed leaf paper, rubbed in cinnabar, and adorned at the upper right corner with an 18th-century Chinese “good fortune” charm accented with contemporary Chinese tassels.

"Whenever I go into a store or meet with a dealer, I always dream of discovering the unexpected and unusual, or as I prefer to look at it, “garage sale syndrome.” My problem is everyone I deal with seems to know the fair price of what they are selling. One day, Jan, an eccentric world traveler from the Netherlands, invited me to his shop to view something very special. On arriving, he sat me down and brewed a cup of TIE GUAN YIN or “iron goddess tea” in his favorite Japanese tetsubin teapot decorated with raised maple leaves. After my first sip, he unwrapped out of a velvet bag a 17th-century belt and belt buckle from a Chinese prince. The workmanship was unbelievable, the price staggering. And to this day the taste of that fantastic tea comes back when I see something I crave, but cannot have.

TIE GUAN YIN is a tea craved by many, and the rarest varieties are prized by those lucky enough to have a properly brewed cup. Local legend in the Fujian province of China has it that centuries ago, monks would train monkeys to climb the steep hillsides and harvest the leaves from the wild tea trees that grew there. And today “monkey-picked” has come to mean the finest quality.

So when buying this delicious tea from the Fujian province, it is always good to see the claim of “monkey-picked” denoting the highest quality.

While I have found I cannot always afford the rare antiquities I crave, I found premium teas to be far more accessible and in my price range. The moral of this story, enjoy what you can attain, and remember fondly what you cannot."

Michelle Samerjan

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