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Most of us tend to think of tea as being calming, peaceful, quiet. Not Beatrice Hohenegger. For the past 10 years, the author of

Nambang Yeomje Lord of the Southern Quadrant, the Fiery Emperor, Shen Nong, Korean, 18th century ​; Credit: LACMA

Nambang Yeomje Lord of the Southern Quadrant, the Fiery Emperor, Shen Nong, Korean, 18th century ​; Credit: LACMA

Legend has it that about 5,000 years ago, a few tea leaves accidentally fell into a pot of boiling water, and Chinese emporer Shen Nong (pictured) tasted some and liked it. From there, it made its way to Japan (see the gorgeous Japanese tea ceremony set on display), the Netherlands, the States and the U.K. (Yup, early colonial Americans started drinking tea before the Brits.) Today, it's the second-most consumed drink, after water, in the world.

In case you want to brush up on the basics before delving into the art, stop at the handy look-and-sniff table with little bowls of different varieties, including the pancake-like Puer cake and powdery Matcha. Other highlights: depictions of lesser-known tea parties outside of Boston; some of the first manuscripts ever written about tea, coffee and chocolate, borrowed from the Library of Congress; and a handful of tiny, unglazed Yixing teapots, distinctive for their ability to take on the flavor of the tea after prolonged use.

Steeped in History: The Art of Tea,” runs Aug. 16-Nov. 29 (curator lecture Sat., Sept. 12, 4-5 p.m.), Fowler Museum, 308 Charles E. Young Drive North, 310-825-4361.


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