The Father of Tea

The Father of Tea

Parallel to water being the mother of tea, the Chinese regards tea wares as the father of tea. Good tea wares can bring out the colour and clarity of the brew, retain the aroma of the tea, and augment the joy of drinking tea, leading to a spiritual level of enjoyment.

The earliest reference to tea wares can be found in Tong Yue by Wang Bao (unknown-61 A.D.) of the Western Han dynasty, which contained a line "brew tea and wash the containers." This Wang Bao from more than two thousand years ago was not a tea expert. His Tong Yue was not a piece of academic writing of any sort. It is a contract he wrote while purchasing a servant. This contract detailed the daily tasks for the servant, as well as the punishments in case the tasks were not completed promptly. Interestingly, this mundane and somewhat cruel contract is the earliest and most reliable written record of tea wares in the world Wang Bao has unwittingly become the earliest recorder of tea affairs whose name is confirmed.

Wang Bao required his servant to "buy tea from Wuyang." All the other tea-related tasks listed in this contract are about preparing tea and cleaning tea wares, suggesting that preparing tea and cleaning tea wares were already an important part of housework. Modem studies suggest that the "container". Wang Bo mentioned might not be special tea wares; they might be common dishware that were also used for dining.

Shortly after the Western Han dynasty, during the Eastern Han dynasty, special tea wares should already be existent. A complete written on the side of the urn, indicating that it was used to store and preserve tea leaves at the time. Another site near written on the side of the urn, indicating that it was used to store and preserve tea leaves at the time. Another site near Shangyu, Zhejiang unearthed a great variety of porcelain wares from the Eastern Han period, including bowls, cups, and urns. Archaeologists believe that these are the earliest celadon tea wares in the world.

During the Tang dynasty, drinking tea gained considerable popularity. Tea wares also became an important component of drinking tea. The Tea Sage Lu Yu devoted a whole chapter in his The Classic of Tea to present the various aspects of tea wares. He started with a summary of different kinds of tea wares, then listed a total of 28 different kinds of tea wares, with details of their shapes and structures and their purposes.

Since the Song dynasty, more varieties of tea wares emerged as the way people drank tea evolved. The evolution of tea wares was also closely linked to the made in the technology of pottery. The huge varies of colourful containers made in those times are all now valuable works of art.

Tea wares in the modern day exhibit varieties in both their functions and materials. Categorized according to functions, there are storage containers, boiling wares, infusion ware, and other complementary tea utensils. Differentiated in materials, tea wares are made out of metal, porcelain, Yixin clay (also known as purple clay), glass, bamboo and wood, and paper. Yixin clay look austere and modest; they also keep the brew fresh for longer and prevent it from going bad. Glass tea wares allow us to appreciate the tea leaves and the brew from all angles.

Tea wares have also gradually entered into people’s artistic tastes. They have now become a fusion of literature, calligraphy, and artisanship, which can be appreciated both practically and aesthetically. Tea wares have been an object of interest for generations of art collectors. The choice, use, maintenance, appraisal, and collection of tea wares are now a study of itself.

Heping (peace) is the spiritual core of Chinese tea. Pinghe (tranquillity) is the outward shape of the peaceful spirit shown by tea drinkers. Heping and pinghe, peace and tranquillity, are interdependent like teeth and lips. Here, peace is a spirit, and also a shape; tranquillity is a shape, and also a spirit.