- Purple-clay Zisha
- Handmade purple-clay teapot
- Yixing artists
- White and white-and-blue porcelain, Color-glazed and painted porcelain
- Black Porcelain
- Ancient kiln
- Iron teaware
- Glass teaware
- Tea Tools
- Tea Books
- The art of mending broken ceramics
Pottery 陶器 [táo qì] an important Neolithis invention. Made from clay burned in kilns at 700-800 ℃, it is hard in texture with or without a glazed surface. Common tea sets include the Zisha 紫砂 pottery (also called boccaro or purple-clay and its firing temperature up to 1050℃～1200℃) and hard pottery.
Zisha 紫砂 [zǐ shā] is famous of high in iron and silicon contents, featuring high plasticity, the glossier surface the more useages of brewing tea. Tea sets made from purple-clay is not normally glazed. A finished product is primarily purple, thus it is named. This pottery can be divided into different colors, such as purple-brown “purple clay” which is in amaranth or light purple; gray-yellow “green clay” in gray or gray-blue; vermeil “red clay” in red-brown. Purple-clay tea set has a long history in China. Su Shi, the great scholar of the Song Dynasty, had designed a pot with handle, called “Dongpo Pot with Loop Handle”. In the Ming Dynasty, making loose tea in a small pot was popular, which led to the development of purple-clay pots.
The purple-clay tea set is produced in Dingshu Township, Yixing, Jiangsu Province. GongChun was the first potter who chiseled his name on the Shuliu Pot (Tree Burl Pot). Following his lead were Dong Han, Zhao Liang, Yuan Chang, Shi Peng, Shi Dabin, Li Zhongfang, Xu Youquan, Hui Mengchen, Chen Mingyuan, Yang Pengnian and Shao Daheng during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
Today there are many famous potters in Yixing with their own unique styles. Purple-clay tea sets may or may not inscribed or painted. Because of high prices of full-handmade teapots, potters also use some moulds to save time and lower prices, so called half-handmade Zisha teapots.
Fan Yueqin is one of Mater Ji Yishun 季益顺 (video) ‘s students, the national senior artist and craftsman and member of China Association of Arts and Crafts. She was born in the Fan Clan pottery family of West Village of Yixing Dingshuzhen in 1968, her childhood suffering from polio caused her physical disability. In her 30 years of Yixing artistic creation, her works are famous for “new texture, deep connotation, lasting appeal, excellent selection of raw materials”, she got the national senior artist and craftsman title lately in 2017.
On behalf of China, she participated the 2016 International Disabled Vocational Skills Competition in Paris, France. Her husband, Ding Junhong is also a super famous purple-clay artist also as one national senior artist and craftsman, his teapots now could be sold over 100-200 thousand RMB (photo).
Porcelain 瓷器 [cí qì] is one of the greatest inventions of ancient China. In the late East Han Dynasty, Chinese has mastered the porcelain burning technique, thus ancient China was named the “Porcelain Country”. Porcelain chould be fired in kilns above 1200’C, and tea sets have varied types, designs and colors. Porcelain tea sets can be divided into the white porcelain, celadon, blue-and-white porcelain, black porcelain, painted porcelain and color-glazed porcelian.
The Chinese porcelain is pure white, translucent and smooth. It is mainly produced in Jingde Town, Jiangxi Province, Dehua, Fujian Province, Chaozhou, Guangdong Province, Liling, Hunan Province and Tangshan, Hebei Province. Porcelain tea wares from the porcelain capital of “Jing De Zhen”, which has been produced porcelain for over 1700 years. Jing De Zhen porcelain has been created its own four special features, those are : “White like jade, bright as a mirror, thin as paper, sound like a chime.” The technique of combining painting and porcelain firing first has started in the Tang and Song dynasties and became popular in the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Since gaoline of Jingdezhen has more mineral substances and firing temperature up to 1340°C, Jingdezhen porcelain belongs to high temperature porcelain (above 1200°C), other places’ porcelains can not compare, for example, cheap Dehua porcelain is low temperature porcelain only around 700-800°C.
White porcelain and blue-and-white porcelain tea sets are the most popular, teapot, appreciation cup, fairness cup, tureen, and coaster have the largest varieties, designs and colors. White porcelain tea set can set off a true tea color and taste, and display its natural beauty.
Celadon 青瓷 [qīng cí] is famous for its exquisite textrure, smooth lines, beautiful shape and glazed layer, the most famous is in Longquan, Zhejiang Province. In the Song Dynasty (960-1279), celadon was fired by brothers Zhang Shengyi and Zhang Sheng’er’s Ge Kiln and Di Kiln, it had reached a high artistic standard.
Today, new breakthroughs have been made to improve the Longquan traditional celadon process, including celadon thin base, underglazed color celadon, and a combination of celadon and white porcelain. Celadon tea set is valuable, as it is rare and very popular in Japan and Korea. Making tea in a celadon tea set sets off a clear green color of green tea liquid. “Cracked surface effect” celadon teawares can absorb and accumulate tea liquid color into teawares’ surfaces after daily usages.
“To set off white foams of tea liquid, a black porcelain tea cup is the best” The black porcelain tea sets were praised highly during the period of the Song Dynasty for the Whisked Tea ceremony 点茶 [diǎn chá], especially Black Cup 黑盏 [hēi zhǎn] also called Heaven Eye Cup 天目盏 [tiān mù zhǎn], which was produced in the Jian Kiln of Fujian Province. It has a thick lighly glazed porcelain body, after firing, porcelain could display many different designs: rabbit hair (photos), oil drops and partridge….
Ancient kiln 古窑 [gǔ yáo], a ceramic kiln fired by wood is called 柴窑 [chái yáo], kilns were developing in Chinese history, Dragon Kiln 龙窑 in Song Dynasty, Steamed Bun Kiln 馒头窑 in Yuan Dynasty and Gourd Kiln 葫芦窑 in Ming Dynasty from their shapes.
This method of preparing Tea, is good for dark teas (fermented Pu’er, Hei Brick and Fu Brick etc.), the water is boiled in an Iron kettle 铁壶 [tiě hú], that makes it taste like spring water and keeps the high temperature to infuse more fragrance, color and flavour of the Tea. Use an Iron Kettle is very healthy for our body, we need lots of iron to stay healthy and build a strong immune system.
Glass tea set started late in China, but developed quickly. Glass tea set normally is colorless with high transparency and high temperature resistant performance. It is perfect for brewing tender shoot teas, such as high-quality green tea, yellow tea and white tea, it is also good for appreciating tea. The drawback of glassware is its quick conductivity and fragility. Glass tea set started late in China, but developed quickly. Glass tea set normally is colorless with high transparency and high temperature resistant performance. It is perfect for brewing tender shoot teas, such as high-quality green tea, yellow tea and white tea, it is also good for appreciating tea. The drawback of glassware is its quick conductivity and fragility.
Tea tool set 茶道组 [chá dào zǔ] includes six tolls for tea ceremony performance: tool holder, tea tongs, tea funnel, tea spoon, tea needle and tea stick, normally made of bamboo or wood. There are also stainless steel tea tongs. Tool holder is used for holding tea tong, tea funnel, tea spoon, tea needle and tea stick; tea tong for holding the hot cups or picking out tea dregs; tea funnel for placing on a pot mouth to widen and prevent tea leaves from spilling; tea spoon for taking out tea from packages to place into a tea holder; tea needle for cleaning teapot spouts; tea stick taking out tea from tea holder.
Yang Dahua 杨大华, the author of <the Golden Dictionary of appraising Chiense Well-known Tea Appraise 中国名茶品鉴金典> and <Tea Enquiries at Wuyi 武夷问茶>.
<Wudang Daoist Tea Culture> China Agriculture Press, the first edition April 2017