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Positive Thoughts Teahouse: Practicing Tea Rituals with Zen Spirit

Photo by Cindy Lee
Photo by Cindy Lee

【◎Written by Li Siao-ping ◎Translation by Lin Yu-ciao ◎Photos by Cindy Lee】

 When Positive Thoughts Teahouse (正思惟齋製茶) was established in a double-level corrugated metal building in an alley near the back of Kaohsiung Main Station, a previously abandoned house was transformed into an example of Japanese Zen-style architecture set against the backdrop of a bustling city. The classic design, which blends architectural craftsmanship with art, has received prestigious awards including the 2022 Architecture MasterPrize (AMP) (美國建築大師獎) and the 2023 German ICONIC Awards: Innovative Architecture (德國標誌性建築設計獎).

Photo by Cindy Lee
Photo by Cindy Lee
 Regarding the design concept, Lin Dong-sian (林東献), the person in charge of Positive Thoughts Teahouse, says: “Artist Liu Keng-I's (劉耿一) private art museum in the Tainan countryside is a windowless concrete building. Skylights bring in natural light, regulating airflow and temperature. I really liked it and hoped that one day we could build a tea art museum like that.”

 The central inspiration for the design, inside and out, is “tea.” The new exterior walls alter the original flow, creating an entrance which faces both north and south. Bamboo fences, basalt stepping stones, and a floor paved with Han white jade stones serve as a pathway for guests. Elegantly curving Penghu-sand walls incorporate the character “入” (entrance). “This is the entrance for people and also the entrance for tea,” Lin adds.

 The building's exterior walls depart from the common modern architectural practice of using fair-faced concrete. Instead, the wall is painted with a mixture of white cement and Penghu white sand. The use of Penghu sand as a building material provides insulation against heat and softens noise, while the material's porous properties absorb moisture from the air, allowing the structure to regulate humidity and temperature. Lin expresses satisfaction, saying, “After moving in, I feel it is warm in winter, cool in summer, and dry with good ventilation.”

Photo by Cindy Lee
Photo by Cindy Lee
 Such inventive architecture embraces the rich cultural heritage of Taiwanese tea. Lin, who has dedicated nearly 40 years to tea making, has responded to market demands by introducing lightly fermented high-mountain tea and innovative teas such as a fruit-scented black tea that has a rich caramel sweetness and a honey fragrance. Despite the intricate and time-consuming use of longan-wood charcoal for tea roasting, which requires several days of continuous attention without sleep, Lin persists in applying this traditional method to prepare oolong and Dongding oolong tea.

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