WILLIAMSBURG — A Williamsburg Chinese tea house that's been used for private art events for years is opening its doors to the public — offering traditional tea ceremonies as a starting point for conversations about art.
A group of Chinese and Japanese artists opened Ran Tea House at 269 Kent Ave. several years ago primarily as a "home base" for their artsy friends and aquaintances who needed exhibit space.
But after a grand opening party this Saturday, the group is using the space for a wider group of people, said Tea House Program Director Jenny Zeng.
Ran will sell iced tea for passersby and locals looking for hot tea can come in for a selection of traditional Chinese drinks, she said.
A tea teacher will always be on hand to perform a traditional ceremony, she said — a slow process involving testing the leaves, brewing and smelling that invites people to reflect.
"We're trying to create a more relaxing and more peaceful experience for people who come in," Zeng said. "They can calm down and get away from busy work and have a cup of tea and relax."
For the Asian artists that started Ran, tea is a symbol of Asian culture and a starting point for conversation with the wider New York community, Zeng added.
The space, which also has room for artist co-working studios and art exhibitions, uses the calming aspects of tea as a tool for dialogue, she said.
They hope that it will help bridge communication between a community of Chinese artists living in New York and more local, homegrown artists.
"We use tea as a starting point to try to communicate," she said.
Saturday's grand opening party, which will be held between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., will offer fine teas as well as Chinese opera music and performances of traditional Chinese dance.
Ran Tea House will be open to the public from Mondays to Fridays between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Events such as film screenings and art exhibits will take place on the weekends.