Speaking of tea apparatus, they were inseparable from eating apparatus before Tang Dynasty. With the popularity of drinking tea, tea apparatus were getting more and more delicate. Lu Yu alone has mentioned over 20 kinds of apparatus and tools for tea picking, producing, containing, baking, cooking and drinking. The porcelain industry rapidly developed In Tang and Song dynasties under the fashion of drinking tea.
Take Tang people’s tea bowl for example. There were various with Yue kiln, Wuzhou kiln, Ou kiln and Yaozhou kiln as representatives, white porcelain represented by Xing kiln, and black porcelain famous for Deqing kiln. According to Book of Tea, “celadon is good for tea” while white, yellow and brown porcelain made the tea color red, purple and black respectively, none looking good. Celadon of Yue kiln was the best. The reason why porcelain from Xing kiln was less good than that from Yue kiln were enumerated in these three sentences: “Xing porcelain resembles silver while Yue porcelain is like jade,” “Xing porcelain resembles snow while Yue porcelain is like ice,” and “Xing porcelain is white and makes tea red while Yue porcelain is green and makes tea green”. In the Chinese history of porcelain development, from Eastern Han when celadon was produced to Tang, among celadon kiln, Yue kiln developed fastest, had the most kiln spots, covered the largest area, and topped others in quality.
When it came to Song Dynasty, people preferred ordering tea and liked white tea soup. Also with the influence of tea contest, black-glaze porcelain was uplifted to the highest position. No famous kiln specialized in celadon or white porcelain but co-tempered black porcelain. The most praised in historic literature was “Rabbit Hair” and “Oil Drop” from Jianyang kiln of Fujian. Those two kinds of black-glaze porcelain let mit mi from black, had thick porcelain fetus, and were good at heat preservation. Therefore they were the favorite for tea experts and they even once served in the imperial court, while celadon and white porcelain suffered from indifference.
In Ming Dynasty, with the catching on of drinking tea with loose leases, open apparatus were not only insufficient in giving off fragrance, but were inadequate in heat preservation, either. So teapot appeared with need, Cooking tea with small pots has now a history of 400 years since its introduction at the end of 16th century.
The producing place of purple-grit tea apparatus is Yixing -the famous “capital of porcelain” of China, It is located along Lake Tai, being a famous tea area as early as Tang Dynasty. Purple-grit tea apparatus of Yixing first appeared in late years of Tang. Coining to Ming, experts on making pots succeeded one after another, and purple-grit pot became the most fashionable and most valuable tea apparatus for its conformity with Ming people’s pursuit of natural atmosphere when drinking tea- With good air permeability, purple-grit teapot not only keeps the original fragrance of tea leaves, but prevents it from getting the taste of ripe water. In winter purple-grit teapot keeps the tea warm and in summer it prevents the tea from going sour. After long years of using, there will appear a layer of tea film on the inside wall of the pot, which can add to the sweetness of tea. Purple-grit teapot is delicate and lovely, exquisitely shaped and finely carved. People not only like using it for tea, but like caressing it as well. So the pot will certain a purple sheen in the course of time. Lightly clouted, the pot gives a tiny sound of metals and stones. Purple-grit teapot is glazed in neither the inside nor the outside, so it has an antique look and gives a tinge of primitive and simple beauty. The pot body is decorated with carving and drawings and the pot bottom is inscribed, too, combining calligraphy, painting, and sculpture in tea ceremony. Therefore, purple-grit teapot has far exceeded its practical value.
Qing Dynasty saw the high development of porcelain and the rich variety of tea leaves. With different types of tea leaves, people had more choice of tea apparatus. In addition to the purple-grit pot of Yixing, color-glaze porcelain tea apparatus came up too, such as five-color, pink-color and enamel porcelain, which were graceful in shape and brilliant in color The vast variety of tea apparatus brought people artistic enjoyment and pleasure when serving in tea drinking.