Text:Chai Kun Cheng/Photograph: Pottery Workshop
An Understated Approach To Appreciating Life
During holiday weekends, Yingge town is packed with visitors. Lin's Ceramics Studio's retail outlets on the "Pottery" Old Street and the Cultural Road are no exception. Now, half of the displays at the stores are from a range of mineral-ore teapots, known as the "Purion" range, which the studio is famous for. The pots are made with a mixture of mineral ore and pottery clay.
This category of pots was introduced by the studio in 2006 in tandem with its proposition of going back to Nature. The range was met with overwhelming acclaim. Owing to popular demand, the studio developed quite a comprehensive range of tea wares in the subsequent three years. At a time when pottery and porcelain were the best sellers in the tea-ware market, it was not easy for the new innovative concept of Purion pots to carve a niche in the market. In fact, Lin's has been researching and developing this line of tea-ware since 1999. Looking back at the growth of Lin's, one would notice that innovation has always been characteristic of their production.
It is a building-up process
Tea making methods have seen significant changes over time. In the Tang Dynasty, tea leaves were boiled together with water; in the Song Dynasty, tea fannings were added to boiled water to make tea liquor, in recent years, more emphasis has been placed on Yixing's Zhisha teapots, The founder of Lin's, Mr, Lin Rong Guo, a graduate of the National Taiwan Normal University, was originally engaged in ceramic art and teaching. When he set up Lin's in 1983, he was determined to move away from the prevailing dominance of Zhisha teapots, and proceeded to design different types of teaware meant for different types of teas. He worked from his studio in his living room, the few years before Lin's was established. Beginning with clay, he insisted on the practicality, simplicity in style, earthy glaze and natural texture. Thanks to his persistence and consistency of quality, his venture has evolved from a roadside stall all the way to a total of 14 stores and department store counters now in Taiwan, as well as 15 department store counters in mainland China. In the course of this, his "Easy-steep Pot" has won the Taiwan Lifestyle Selection Award. Besides, he has also bagged the first Taiwan Ceramics Gold Award via his Kettle VI in 2002; was invited to participate in Japan's Takashimaya department store sales exhibition; and clinched the 2003 Original Creation Award for Haili Gold Cup tea ware category in China with his Traditional Charcoal Kettle. Lin's was named in 2004 as a well-known trademark by the Cultural and Creative Art Association. From sidewalk stall to the flagship store in the iconic Taipei 101, from the living room to a well-known trademark of the cultural and creative art industry, Lin's has been working hard on creative innovation for two decades, during which the studio has had its share of hardship - a typhoon almost wiped out Lin s effort and his studio, He has been hewing a path of innovation long before the emergence of the cultural and creative art industry. Innovation is more than creativity and technique; determination and accumulation of experience may be the two more important factors.
The earthenware created by Lin s after two decades of deviation from Yixing teapots has established their own style and identity in the market, and won customers recognition. It Is not surprising that Lin's has committed to a decade of developing the Purion pots and teaware.
The classic Strainer Cup
The evergreen bestseller of Lin's Ceramics Studio would have to be the strainer cup. The simple tea-making ware was redesigned, to improve the tea making and drinking experience. The patented design of the strainer prevents tea liquor from dripping onto the table-top. Design of the lid, the strainer, and the cup takes into consideration the difference in diameter, enabling brewing to be done in one go without the inconvenience of a stuck lid caused by steam pressure. Practicality for usage plus the earthy glaze and natural tactile feel unique to the works of Lin's make these cups a winner among tea drinkers. Some of the cups have been accompanying their owners in the office or their study for more than ten years!
The Easy-steep Teapots
The sales of the easy-steep pots are far higher than any types of teapots. The innovative concept of Lin's has simplified the process, and yet retained the spirit of tea making. This two-in-one version of the pitcher and teapot makes it ideal for modern day lifestyle. In order to prevent hands from burning, a ring of seaweed was cleverly added, giving it a fine finishing touch. A small filter is placed inside the spout of the teapot to avoid tea leaves from blocking the outlet, while filtering the tea liquor. The seaweed ring and the filter are patented. Consideration for the users has helped designers come up with this simple yet practical tea ware.
Water boiled with Lin's kettle pot is particularly pleasant-tasting and smooth. This, together with the stout body and earthy appearance, has gotten tea drinkers to spread the words about this unique kettle. In general, teapot makers give their attention to creating the teapots as they are; whereas, Lin's also attends to the taste of boiled water for tea making. That is why they have designed a clay mixture for the kettle that is different from normal teapots, in order to activate and soften water in the heating process. Among them, Kettle III has a capacity of 1300 milliliters, which is almost the same as the standard tea ware.
Bring out the quality in tea with the right teaware
Lin's has always adhered to its original intention of creating different types of teaware for different types of tea to bring out the characteristics and taste. The concept of culture and products required in-depth communication and interaction with customers over an extended period of time. Over more than two decades, the quality works of Lin's have built up a certain brand image. The overwhelming success of the Purion range is the result of trust the studio has secured from major customers, together with the prevalence of Puerh and aged tea.
As a result of the difference in the mass of tea ware, Lin's recommends using porcelain teaware for light and medium fermented tea leaves to let out the aroma; Purion teaware for medium or heavily fermented tea for deepen the flavour, and pottery tea ware is more to medium fermented to get the both in aroma and flavor. The general public does not normally differentiate between the teaware and the properties of tea leaves, hence it is not easy to promote the concept of bringing out the quality of tea with the right teaware, but Lin's still believes in the power of commitment and perseverance.
Reminiscing the past, Pondering the present
In 2009, Lin's launched the first batch of Sunflower tea cups under the Huai-Ru series.Ru were the most precious and eye-catching type of work produced from the official kilns of the Song Dynasty. Lin's adds the Huai-Ru series to its line-up of products, at a time when the idea of having the right tea were for the right tea has been established. The studio seeks to promote ancient wisdom, technique and art, and turn this into practical designs for today's world. Each piece from Lin's Ceramics Studio is hallmarked with the studio's name and year of production. The marks of Huai-Ru Sunflower cups are the results of more than two decades of hard work; it is also the renewed presentation of the culture of official kilns of the Song Dynasty.