• by vinux

Ancient Chinese tea sets! Tea sets were an important part of ancient Chinese tea culture, discussing the rise and fall of the history of tea sets can also provide insight into the historical background of tea culture. Ancient Chinese tea sets also had their own unique development process, from which one can see the artistic creativity of ceramics. Previously there were not many articles that did a systematic study in this area.

Concept and Types of Ancient Tea Utensils

I. Concept and Types of Ancient Tea Utensils
Ancient tea utensils refer to various tea-related items used by people in ancient times, including tea pots, cups, trays, bowls, scoopers and other items used for drinking tea as well as for storing and displaying tea leaves. These items were usually made of pottery or porcelain with exquisite designs and patterns. The types of ancient tea utensils varied from region to region depending on local production techniques and cultural preferences.

Tea sets, also known as tea ware or tea utensils in ancient times, first appeared in the Han Dynasty. According to Wang Bao of the Western Han Dynasty in “Peng You”, there is a saying that “cooking tea with all kinds of utensils and covering them up”. This is the earliest record of “tea set” in our country. In the Tang Dynasty, the word “tea set” can be seen everywhere in Tang poems, such as Lu Guimeng’s “General Journal of Lingling”: “guests are unlimited, holding tea utensils on that day”, Bai Juyi’s “Memories of Yang Tongzhou Poems after Sleeping”: “place a rope bed here and wash tea utensils next to it”, and Pi Rixiu’s poem in Zhu Family Tingting: “Xiao Su Gui Ying moves Tea Sets”. In the Song, Yuan and Ming Dynasties, the word “tea set” can be seen in various books, such as Songshi Li Zhi recorded: “Emperor Zi Ai Hall has six officials living in Beishi… On that day he gave his name to tea utensils.” The Song Emperor gave “tea utensils” as gifts. It can be seen that tea sets were very valuable in the Song Dynasty. Wen Tong, a Northern Song painter, wrote: “take only tea sets to enjoy seclusion”. Weng Juan of Southern Song Dynasty had a famous sentence: “a yellow court not bored to look at it; poem bag and tea utensil always with me”. Wang Mian, a painter of Yuan Dynasty wrote: “wine pot and tea set above the boat”. Xu Ze of Ming Dynasty called “four bests of Wu area” invited friends for tasting wine late at night when he was inspired to write: “the teapot is still set up late at night but no knocking on the cup”. It can be seen that whether it is Tang and Song poets or Yuan and Ming painters often read “tea sets” poems in their works. This shows that tea sets are an indispensable part of tea culture.

Modern people refer to “tea set” mainly referring to teapots and tea cups. In fact, there are only a few types of modern tea sets. But the concept of “tea set” in ancient times seemed to refer to a broader range. According to the types of tea sets listed by Tang literati Pi Rixiu in “Ten Odes of Tea Set”, there are “tea bank, tea person, tea bamboo, tea mat, tea house, tea stove, tea baking, teapot tripod, teapot pot and making tea”. Among them, “tea bank” refers to the depression for planting tea. “Tea person” refers to the picker of tea, as mentioned in the Tea Classic: “The picker carries (the teaset) for picking the leaves.”

“Chaluo” is a type of box or cage. Lu Guimeng wrote a poem “Chaluo Poem” which states: “Golden knife split green jade, weave like ripple diagonal.” It can be seen that Chaluo is a kind of tea set made of bamboo and woven with oblique lines. The term Cha She usually refers to a small thatched cottage inhabited by tea people. Tang Piri vacation’s “Cha She Poem” describes the hard work of making tea such as baking, pounding, frying and tapping in tea houses: “The sun cliff has its own house, playing around for several days; fetching red spring from the shed, frying moss before the fire…afterwards, an old man grinds tea; a middle-aged woman taps it; facing each other to cover the fire door, clear fragrance fills the mountain moon.”

Since ancient times, people used fire stoves (i.e. charcoal stoves) to make tea. Stoves for making tea since the Tang Dynasty are commonly known as “tea stoves”. According to “Lu Guimeng’s Biography in The Book of Tang”, he lived in Songjiang Fu Li, did not like to socialize with commoners and refused to open the door even though he had built one. He neither rode a horse nor sailed a boat, but only “made a straw seat for himself, bundled books and set up a tea stove”. He wandered around the rivers and lakes, calling himself “an outsider”. Yang WANLI from Song dynasty, one of the four great masters after Southern Song Dynasty, wrote in his Fu Yi of Yabaotang: “Pen bed and tea stove, earthenware basin and cane scepter”. Chen TAO from Tang Dynasty wrote in his Poem Inscription on Purple Bamboo: “Fragrant scent enters the tea stove,Silent green straightens out the chessboard”. It can be seen that literati of Tang and Song Dynasties were surrounded by “tea stoves” when they studied or played chess. And so we see that since Tang Dynasty, “tea stoves” have been essential items in our daily lives.

In ancient times, the utensil used to roast tea leaves was called “Cha Pei”. According to the Geographical Records of the Song History, “there is a famous Beiyuan Cha Pei in Jian’an”. It is also recorded in The Tea Records that Cha Pei is made of bamboo and wrapped with bamboo leaves, which can prevent the tea leaves from getting burnt. When placing tea on Cha Pei for low-temperature roasting, it will not damage its color and aroma.

In addition to the tea utensils mentioned above, other ancient tea utensils can be seen in various books, such as teapots, teacups, tea grinders, mortars, tea chests, presses, troughs, trays, baskets, boards and so on. How many kinds of tea utensils are there? According to “Yunxi Youyi”, Lu Yu invented 24 kinds of tea utensils. If we follow the words of “Tea Utensil Ten Songs” and “Yunxi Youyi” written by Tang Dynasty literary scholar, there were at least 24 kinds of ancient tea utensils. The concept of “tea utensils” mentioned in this historical data is quite different from today’s.