• by vinux

Tea lovers who have come into contact with Gongfu tea must know the cover bowl. Together with the purple sand pot, it bears the two main flags of the teapot world.

However, in the impression of friends who don’t drink tea, the lid is not like this. In TV dramas, it is often performed that hands hold up the lid to the chest, right hand picks up the cover, scrapes a foam, blows a breath of cool tea soup and then directly takes it to the mouth to drink.

Scrape off foam.

In ancient times, the lids of bowls were indeed used as individual tea cups as depicted in TV dramas. When did they become what they are today – vessels for brewing tea?

The emergence of bowl covers:

The predecessor of the bowl cover was called “Tuozi” or “Tuo Zhan”, which is said to be invented in Chengdu during the Tang Dynasty. In the treasure buried in Famen Temple Underground Palace in 875, there was a glazed Tuozi, which is the earliest tangible evidence of time.

The Ru-li Tuo-zhan Cultural Relics are a type of porcelain ware from the Ru Kiln, which was an imperial kiln renowned for its exquisite craftsmanship in the Southern Song Dynasty.

When it came to the Song Dynasty, the development of tea caddies stagnated. People were heavily influenced by the emperor and enthusiastically participated in drinking tea, using black glazed bowl hats to measure out the tea. As a result, tea caddies were rarely ever used.

Once the Ming Dynasty arrived, Zhu Yuanzhang abolished the tea ceremony, thus the past methods of steaming and brewing tea lost favor. Consequently, corresponding teaware such as Yue Ou and Jian Zhan also fell out of use.

Instead of the teapot, two suitable vessels for the tea brewing method arose: covered bowl and zisha pot. The covered bowls at this time were deeper than those of the Tang and Song Dynasties’, suitable for storing tea leaves, adding a lid but without a bottom support.

It was probably late Ming or early Qing dynasty when a saucer was added to the bowl, forming the modern interpretation of a “Three-Virtues Bowl”.

Three-Talented Bowl

Nonetheless, amongst many tea-ware, the cover bowl is the most difficult to use. It requires two hands and must be gently and gracefully handled–it looks grand yet one needs to be cautious so that it does not drop from its stand.

Functional Changes:

During the Ming Dynasty, foreign people came to China to customize porcelain mugs. The Chinese people disliked the shape of the mugs and thought they were ugly, so they never used them.

Later, Chinese people added a lid to the Mark Cup for keeping warm, and renamed it Zhongshan Cup. The benefits of the Zhongshan Cup are great: the volume is at least equivalent to two bowls with lids, and most importantly, it’s easy to drink without burning your hands.

The Zhongshan Cup is a Chinese tournament for various sports. It was founded in 1985 to commemorate the centenary of Sun Yat-sen’s birth, who is considered “the Father of Modern China”. The tournament includes competitions in basketball, volleyball, track and field, swimming, table tennis, badminton, gymnastics and wushu.

Thus, as more of this convenient teaware began to appear, the individual skill of cup-covering weakened.

Afterwards, the tea art performance developed from Chao style purple sand pot brewing to Taiwanese style brewing. In addition, the lid bowl was much cheaper than the purple sand pot, and gradually faded out of the tea art performance. The lid bowl rose rapidly.

Since then, the bowl has changed its role and started to serve as the main steamer.

There are no limitations on the teapot for brewing various kinds of tea, and it can best show the advantages and disadvantages of the tea. It is truly an excellent tool for making tea.

Cover the bowl and pour out the soup.

Compared to teapots, the advantage of a covered bowl is that it is easy to clean, especially for large-leaf tea residues such as oolong. It’s troublesome to get the residue out from a pot. In addition, the wide opening of the bowl facilitates heat dissipation and prevents tea leaves from becoming oversteeped.

Later, the Taiwanese bubble tea brewing method developed even further, and in this process, lids for cups became increasingly used. Nowadays, they occupy half of the landscape of tea brewing vessels.

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