Johanna Tagada introduces her new journal with a story of a chance encounter, and it is stories which continue to convey the graceful world of tea as the pages slip by. Whilst coffee lovers have the likes of DRIFT, Standart and Brygg, it is only right that a tea lover should have Journal du Thé. And there’s a big difference which seems to rely mostly on a state of mind.
Drenched in symbolism, tea has gentler, more mindful connotations than the frantic freneticism of coffee. It even has a certain posture. Tea ceremonies are revered and can be boiled down into the simple act of plopping a teabag in a mug and waiting for its colour to deepen. It’s shared with friends and family, usually in the intimacy of home. It is a quiet drink, feeding those in need of ease and peace.
This peaceful feeling is distilled throughout the journal via whimsical typography and block primary colours, without becoming too cute. The photography is hazy, softening the edges as if glasses in steam. It conveys the eclectic and diverse nature of tea itself, from China to India, to brewers from San Francisco and collectors from Japan. As in most good magazines it is not always explicitly tea but the tenuous links between art, culture and interesting found things which allow the theme to permeate every angle.
Here is a safe place to coo over Mio Kamiya’s collection of teapots, and marvel how its simple design alters from country to country. Tea influences and inspires artistic activity, such as Audrey Fondecave’s experiment with the intense greenery of matcha in her paintings, and Mai Ueda strange art installation involving a tea ceremony, panda costumes and a boxing ring. The addition of book recommendations, an illustrated strip on the tale of Omotenashi and the Kazarimono of Hida (arranging decorative items into a kind of word play) allows Journal du Thé the ability to be educational whilst entertaining. Throughout the magazine the words are sometimes lost in translation and can be a little cumbersome, too overtly fluffy and earnest, but that is only a minor flaw which never hinders its overall enjoyment.
Without ever saying outright, tea has formed our societies, the way we do things, across all cultures. In one particular interview with Anaïs Kerhous, a medicinal plant farmer, it is almost perfectly distilled. She speaks of growing basil, hawthorn and roses over a mug of sage tisane, and lingers on the idea of conviviality. Tea is just about sharing an experience.