Selection and Evolution of Tea Ware 茶具的选配及变迁

Besides its basic functions, artistic value and craftsmanship are also important standard in selecing tea ware: collectors value the latter over the former.
Teaware and tea should be suited.
All those who love drinking tea value both taste and artistic conception. They believe that if quality tea matches with quality tea ware, the tea drinking experience will be more pleasant and tea ware will appear more artful. Therefore, it is important for them to selec both quality tea and the right tea ware.
For this reason, there have been a great many books about matching tea and tea ware throughout history. Lu Yu, a tea expert of the Tang Dynasty, compared pottery tea ware produced in different parts of China and concluded that tea ware made in Xing (today’s Hebei and Henan Province) is superior to that made in Yue (today’s Zhejiang Province). In the Tang Dynasty, people drank cake tea, which needs to be baked and ground prior to brewing. The tea water is light red and its color will have a different appearance when it is poured into tea ware of different colors. Lu Yu believed that blue tea ware was the best in terms of appreciation of tea leaves.
In the Song Dynasty, people began to pour hot water into teapots instead of brewing tea in a kettle. As a result, the tea water appeared almost white. However, popular blue tea ware could not match this new color. People also replaced tea bowls with small tea cups, believing that small black tea cups are superior.
By the time of the Ming Dynasty, people had begun to prefer loose tea. In the early Ming Dynasty, tea water was a light yellow shade because young tea leaves were used. Accordingly, white replaced black as the most popular color for small tea cups. Tu Long, a tea expert at that time, believed that white cups would make it easier for people to see the real color of tea drink. Since the mid-Ming Dynasty, following the emergence of porcelain and dark-red enameled tea ware there was no need to match the color of the tea water with that of tea ware. People focused more upon the tea water – in specific its color, aroma, taste and form. Among these, aroma and taste were regarded as the most important qualities. Therefore, people shifted their interests from the color of tea ware to its aesthetic value and elegance.
Variety in tea ware increased in the Qing Dynasty. With varying shapes and colors tea ware became more artistic and was integrated with poetry, calligraphy, painting and sculpturing. The development of tea varieties also set new requirements for the color, texture, shape, weight, thickness and size of tea ware. Generally speaking, when you drink scented tea, you should make it in teapot and drink in porcelain cups because the fragrance of flowers and tea is preserved well in teapots. If you drink black tea or green tea and focus on the taste of tea, you should make it using teapots, teacups or tea bowls with a cover. Because sipping is very important in drinking Oolong tea, dark-red enameled tea ware is the right choice. When drinking broken black tea or congou black tea, it is best to make it in a porcelain or dark-red enameled teapot and drink from white porcelain cups. If you drink famous tender teas such as West Lake Longjing Tea, Dongting Biluochun Tea, Junshan Yinzhen Tea and Huangshan Maofeng Tea, it is better to make and drink them in glass. White porcelain cups are also a good alternative choice to glass for other famous tender green teas. However, no matter what kind of quality green tea you drink, the tea cups should not be too big. Large cups hold more water, thus they will also hold much more heat, which will stew the tea. As a result, the ripe tea will lose its green color and shape and become soft. It will also lose some of its fragrance or even gain an unpleasant taste.
Different regions prefer different tea ware.
China is a large country, wher people have different customs in drinking tea and their own preferences for tea ware. In the north of Yangtze River, people usually choose to make scented tea in porcelain cups with a cover to preserve the tea’s fragrance. They also like to make tea in big porcelain teapots and drink in handleless small cups. In big and medium cities in the Yangtze River delta and North China such as Shanghai, Ningbo, Hangzhou, Beijing and Tianjin, people love drinking famous tender teas. They focus on taste, fragrance as well as color and form. Therefore, they prefer to drink in glass or white porcelain cups. In many areas in Zhejiang and Jiangsu Provinces, people pay more attention to taste and fragrance, so they choose dark-red enameled tea ware or porcelain cups with covers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *