What did ancient Chinese people drink tea with?

After the Han Dynasty, until the Tang Dynasty, there was no strict boundary between tableware and drinking utensils. In most cases, they were shared. However, as a ceramic tea set, after the development of the Western Jin Dynasty and the southern and Northern Dynasties, to the Tang Dynasty, Lu Yu’s <tea classic 茶经> contains 20 kinds of tea sets, which shows that the Tang Dynasty tea set has complete shape, complete supporting facilities, and special tea sets have been established. Book Workshops

There are two representative methods of tea cooking in Tang Dynasty: one is the method of fried tea represented by Lu Yu, and the other is the method of whisked tea elaborated by Su Lin in <sixteen soup>. In addition, there are some other methods between tea fried and tea whisked. With the different methods of cooking tea, the required utensils are not the same. Generally speaking, the tea sets of Tang Dynasty can be roughly divided into two categories: one is the 28 kinds of tea drinking utensils listed by Lu Yu in the book of tea, which are folk tea drinking utensils including those used by local officials and scholars; the other is the gold and silver, secret color porcelain and glazed tea utensils of Tang Dynasty unearthed from the underground palace of Famen Temple in Shaanxi, which are royal tea drinking utensils.


In Tang Dynasty, tea was generally green, and celadon bowls and white bowls were equally important. But in Song Dynasty, tea color was white, and tea fighting became popular. Whether the tea foam sticks to the wall of the bowl is the sign of the victory or defeat of the tea fight. The loser is the one who first forms tea marks on the bowl. This has something to do with the quality of the tea and the technique of whisking it. In order to meet the needs of tea fighting, the Song Dynasty put white tea in a dark bowl, with clear contrast and easy inspection. Cai Xiang pointed out in his <tea record> that “the color of tea is white, and tea bowl should be black.” “green and white tea bowls, but it’s not necessary for a tea fighter.” Therefore, the Song Dynasty paid special attention to black glazed tea bowls. Because this kind of tea set was popular all over at that time, the northern kilns where white porcelain was used to produce to in the Tang Dynasty also made some black porcelain, and other tea sets were handed down from generation to generation. However, because their products do not fully meet the special requirements of tea fighting, the tea drinking art of Song Dynasty is not as representative as that of black glazed porcelain.

People in Song Dynasty still drank cake tea, and there was no great change in tea processing methods, so the tea drinking methods and utensils were almost the same as those in Tang Dynasty. When people drank tea, they had to crush the cake tea, sift it into powder, and then fry it or whisk it. It is just that the tea roasting before tea milling was not as emphasized as that in the Tang Dynasty. Only the aged tea can be roasted, if it is new, it will not be roasted any more. Later, the method of frying tea was gradually abandoned by the people of Song Dynasty.

In Yuan Dynasty, there were new changes from tea processing to tea drinking methods. After steaming, the cake tea, which was made by pounding, patting, baking, wearing and sealing, gradually declined. The strip loose tea (bud tea and leaf tea) which was made by kneading, frying and baking began to rise. The method of directly brewing loose tea with boiling water gradually replaced the method of whisking tea and frying tea which were made by grinding and drinking cake tea. At the same time, some tea sets began to die out, and others began to appear. In a sense, whether it is tea processing, tea drinking methods, or tea sets, Yuan Dynasty is a transitional period from Tang Dynasty and Song Dynasty to Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty.

Archaeological excavation data show that with the less development of Whisked tea method, the number of black glazed tea cups in porcelain tea sets of Yuan Dynasty decreased significantly, while the number of celadon and green white glazed tea bowls and high foot cups made in famous kilns increased significantly. In the north, a large number of white porcelain and blue and white porcelain tea sets of famous kilns of Song Dynasty’s Ding, Jun, Ru and Xiangzhou continued to be imitated. In the south, there are Jingdezhen, Longquan and Dehua kilns for making tea sets. Among them, the blue and white porcelain of the Yuan Dynasty fired in Jingdezhen kiln is known as another masterpiece of Chinese porcelain for its huge, simple, beautiful modeling and decoration technology.

Because people in Ming Dynasty drank loose tea in strips, tea storage and baking utensils were more important than those in Tang and Song dynasties. Before drinking tea, washing tea sets with water was unique to the people of Ming Dynasty, these new tea sets were finalized in Ming Dynasty. From Ming Dynasty to modern times, the varieties of tea sets used by people had not changed much. Only changes in the style or texture of the tea set. Tea bowls in Ming Dynasty were still made of porcelain, but due to the change of tea types, the prevailing tea fighting in Song Dynasty began to decline, and the way of drinking tea changed. At this time, the tea bowls used had changed from black glazed ones (bowls) to white ones or blue and white ones. The white porcelain of Ming Dynasty has high artistic value, which is called “sweet white” in history. White porcelain tea cup has beautiful shape, well proportioned, refined materials and elegant style, which occupies an important position in the history of tea set development. Compared with the previous dynasties, the innovative tea sets in the Ming Dynasty were small teapots and tea washes, and the improved ones were tea cups, which were made of pottery or porcelain. During this period, the white porcelain tea set and blue and white porcelain tea set in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province, and the Zisha tea set in Yixing, Jiangsu Province were greatly developed. No matter in color and shape, variety and style, they entered a new era of extremely exquisite.

The tea sets of Qing Dynasty did not break through the norms of Ming people in terms of types and forms. For example, bamboo stoves are still highly recommended for making a fire. In Beijing, a small triangle tea stove with wooden frame and lime inside and outside is also popular. Its surface is painted with birds, animals, fish, insects, flowers, figures and landscapes, which is also very elegant. Tea bottles for boiling water, also known as Cha Yao at that time, were still used to porcelain or copper tin tea bottles of Ming people. On the one hand, the tea bottles used to boil water in Qing Dynasty (i.e. Cha Diao and Cha Yao) were impacted by the copper Diao from abroad; on the other hand, the Cha Yao made of copper, tin and tile used in ancient China were still preserved. However, compared with the Ming Dynasty, the manufacturing technology of tea sets in the Qing Dynasty has made great progress, which is most fully reflected in the most basic tea sets used by the Qing people, that is, tea cups and teapots. Gai Wan in the Qing Dynasty, and covered bowls in the Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong periods, are most famous. The covered bowl is composed of a cover, a bowl and a support.

It is a tea set specially used for export to Europe in Qianlong period of Qing Dynasty. The tea set returned from overseas back to China, which is composed of teapot, tea canister, teacup and cup holder…

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