- by vinux
Chinese tea utensils have a long history, dating back to the Tang Dynasty (618–907). During this time, a variety of tea vessels and accessories were developed, including cups, spoons, strainers, teapots, and kettles. As tea culture flourished during the Song Dynasty (960–1279), specific vessels for brewing and drinking tea began to emerge. In the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), these vessels began to take on unique shapes, colors, and styles that reflect Chinese culture.
Today, there is a wide variety of traditional Chinese tea utensils available on the market. From small Gaiwan teacups to elaborate Yixing teapots, there are many options for preparing and enjoying one’s favorite cup of tea.
The history of Chinese tea sets! As the hometown of tea, China has a long history of tea sets. Tea set culture is also an inseparable part of tea culture.
The oldest tea utensils in history are probably pottery jars, similar to the modern Sichuan and Yunnan’s roast tea cans, which can be used to boil tea as well as serve. Although they are simple in shape, they are heavy and rough. Since the Western Han Dynasty, glazed pottery tea utensils have appeared. They look bright and smooth and have colorful colors, showing the artistic quality of tea utensils for the first time. During the Tang Dynasty, pottery teaware was mainly used. At the same time, noble families and wealthy families also had metal teaware such as gold, silver, copper, tin and so on. The teaware used for “doucha” in Song Dynasty was mainly black glazed cups. In Yuan Dynasty, there were more blue-white glazed teawares; in mid-Ming Dynasty came Zisha pots. By Qing Dynasty, Guangzhou Zijin Cai Porcelain and Fuzhou Tuotai Lacquerware Teawares had successively been introduced. In modern times there are glass teawares and enameled teawares. China has a variety of teawares with different forms of artistry.
The relationship between tea sets and the way of drinking tea is quite close.
In the Tang and Song Dynasties, tea was made by steaming fresh leaves and then pounding them into cakes, which were strung together with ropes and dried, called “tea cakes” or “cake tea”. When drinking tea, the tea drinker grinds the cake tea into powder (also called mocha) and puts it in a pot to fry, so that the tea can be fully infiltrated before drinking. Therefore, the tea utensils at that time were very complicated. Lu Yu, the Sage of Tea, listed 28 kinds of tea utensils in his book Tea Scripture · Four Warehouses. In addition to commonly used teapots, drinking cups and storage jars for making tea, there are also two kinds of utensils for grinding tea: Tea Grinder and Tealuo.
The tool used to grind tea is a tea grinder. There are wooden and stone tea grinders. The wooden tea grinder is made of hard, fine, odorless wood. The best ones are orange wood, followed by pear wood, mulberry wood, paulownia wood, etc. This kind of wooden tea grinder consists of a “grinding plate” and a “grinding dropper”. The shape of the grinding plate is square with a round hole in the middle which can just fit the “dropper”. The grinding dropper is a round piece of wood with a wheel in the middle. When grinding tea, the hand holds the shaft to rotate the grinding dropper so that the pressure between the grinding dropper and the grinding plate can crush the tea cake.
Cha Luo, also known as “Sieve”, was referred to as “Luo He” by the Tea Sage Lu Yu. The ring of Luo He was made by baking and curving bamboo or cedar wood, and then painting it with paint. The surface of Luo was made from fine silk gauze. When using Cha Luo to sift tea at the end, you should add a lid to prevent the tea powder from scattering. In Song Dynasty, the rings of Cha Luo were made of gold and silver if they were exquisite ones, while their surfaces were made of fine gauze produced in Exi of Sichuan Province. At that time, people usually used a tea crusher and Cha Luo to grind and sift tea themselves.
Since the Tang and Song Dynasties, tea sets can be divided into pottery tea sets according to their texture. Porcelain tea sets, lacquerware tea sets, metal tea sets, glass tea sets, bamboo and wooden tea sets, etc. In the Song Dynasty, the production of porcelain tea sets was extremely prosperous and various styles of porcelain teapots appeared. At that time, the famous porcelain kilns were: Hangzhou Official Kiln, Longquan Ge Kiln in Zhejiang Province, Ruzhou Ru Kiln in Henan Province, Junzhou Jun Kiln in Henan Province, Dingzhou Ding Kiln in Hebei Province and other five famous kilns. The development of Chinese teapots has always been closely related to the development of pottery wares.
During the Tang and Song Dynasties, due to the adoption of boiled tea juice, there were many metal products used for boiling water, with “gold and silver taken as the superior ones”, while also a “teapot” was used for boiling water, also known as a “boiling water pot”.
With the change in the style of making and drinking tea, from grinding and boiling tea cakes during the Tang and Song Dynasties, to steaming whole tea leaves into “shreds” (also known as “steamed green shreds”) in a pot during the Yuan Dynasty, to further changing it to “stir-fried green shreds” in the Ming Dynasty and drinking tea by infusing it instead of boiling it, tea sets have evolved from having only tea cups and teapots to having special teapots for tasting tea. Thus, cups and pots became the basic tools for drinking tea.
During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Chinese tea ware was of exquisite craftsmanship and decorative value, with increasing cultural atmosphere. In the Qing Dynasty, production of tea ware was unprecedented in terms of color and variety. Mainly made from ceramics and porcelain, it further developed into two well-known series: Jingdezhen porcelain and Yixing purple sand pottery.
Chinese tea wares have developed and innovated in the long history, with its artistic properties constantly enhanced and highly aesthetic value. In the process of enjoying tea, people appreciate various types of teawares, which has then become a natural derivative of tea drinking and a pleasurable aesthetic experience.