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Tasting Ceylon tea: aesthetic judgment beyond “good taste”


Tsigkas, Alexios (2019). Tasting Ceylon tea: aesthetic judgment beyond “good taste”. Food, Culture, and Society, 22(2):152-167.

Abstract

Tea production comprises concerted acts of discernment—from plucking and processing tealeaves, to tasting, blending, and valuing tea—the outcome of which ranges from the ordinary to the singular. Tracing the tension between the two, this article cast a closer look at how aesthetic judgments are made and shared, and the ways in which they are incorporated into the production of mass market commodities. The aim of this paper is to highlight the nuanced practices of aesthetic judgment, which, no matter how indispensable to the production of an ostensibly ordinary good, are obscured by the widespread association of taste with distinguished consumption—the conflation, in other words, of aesthetic judgment with “good taste.” Based on ethnographic research conducted with producers and professional tea-tasters across the Ceylon Tea industry, it argues for a broader understanding of the judgment of taste as an enactment of sensory labor irreducible to commonly held categories of distinction

Abstract

Tea production comprises concerted acts of discernment—from plucking and processing tealeaves, to tasting, blending, and valuing tea—the outcome of which ranges from the ordinary to the singular. Tracing the tension between the two, this article cast a closer look at how aesthetic judgments are made and shared, and the ways in which they are incorporated into the production of mass market commodities. The aim of this paper is to highlight the nuanced practices of aesthetic judgment, which, no matter how indispensable to the production of an ostensibly ordinary good, are obscured by the widespread association of taste with distinguished consumption—the conflation, in other words, of aesthetic judgment with “good taste.” Based on ethnographic research conducted with producers and professional tea-tasters across the Ceylon Tea industry, it argues for a broader understanding of the judgment of taste as an enactment of sensory labor irreducible to commonly held categories of distinction

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
390 Customs, etiquette & folklore
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Food Science
Social Sciences & Humanities > Social Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Cultural Studies
Uncontrolled Keywords:Taste, aesthetic judgment, Sri Lanka, tea, distinction, discernment, commodities, production, anthropology
Language:English
Date:22 February 2019
Deposited On:23 Jan 2020 14:41
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 11:54
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1552-8014
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/15528014.2019.1573040

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