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The Science of Small Utensils: Different Types off Teaware

Purple Clay Teaware

Purple clay teaware first appeared in the Song Dynasty, thrived A in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and have remained popular among tea enthusiasts up until the present day. Purple clay teaware is inspired by and developed from pottery making, so it is often called 'new pottery'. The materials used to make purple clay teaware can be divided into three types: purple clay, green clay and cinnabar clay. These clays are known as the 'clays of wealth', and because they are native to Yixing,a city in Jiangsu Province,the teaware made from these clays is also called Yixing Zisha or 'Yixing purple clay'.

Yixing purple clay teawares are made in a variety of forms and styles. They are attractive in appearance and are often associated with a cultured lifestyle. These cultural connotations behind the teaware itself are the reason purple clay teaware has attracted tea enthusiasts since ancient times. In addition, purple clay teaware is well suited to making different types of tea because when brewing tea in puiple clay teapot, the teapot gives full play to the pleasing aroma of the tea.

Purple clay teaware is fired at a temperature between 1100℃and 1200℃ (degrees Celsius). They are heat and cold resistant, so they can endure high temperatures; they hold water very well, conducting heat relatively slowly so reducing the risk of burning one's hand, and they are effective in preserving the water temperature, and so capable of sustaining the color, aroma and taste of tea during brewing. A saying that describes the value of purple clay teaware is: 'a purple clay teaware weighs only several liangs, while it costs more than ten gold coins, it seems the clay is worth as much as gold.' (liang is the ancient unit of weight, 1 liang equals 50 grams)

Teaware of Other Materials

1.Lacquer Teaware

Lacquer teaware first appeared in the Qing Dynasty. They are mainly made in the areas around Fuzhou in Fujian Province, and are also known as 'bodiless lacquerware'. Lacquerware making is very delicate and complicated. A finished lacquer tea set usually contains one teapot and four teacups, placed on a round or rectangular tea tray. The teapot, teacups and tea tray are often in the same color, such as black, yellowish brown, reddish brown or deep green. They are light and handy, bright and lustrous. You can even see your reflection in the shiny surface, and they are also heat and corrosion resistant. Lacquer teaware is decorated with calligraphy or paintings to enhance its artistic value, ideal for appreciation and collection.

2.Glass Teaware

In modern times, glass teaware has enjoyed rapid development and has become very popular among tea drinkers. It is often made of tempered glass, is impact resistant and thermal stable, and varies in style. The most notable quality of glass is its transparency, making this type of teaware suitable for appreciating the appearance of the brewing tea leaves and tea liquor,especially when making quality green and black teas. The tea drinkers enjoy watching the misty vapor forming on the glass, and the leaves slowly flowing and settling on the bottom of the teaware.

Matching the Teaware with the Tea

For a scented tea, we often choose a porcelain teapot in order to preserve the aroma of the tea.

For Oolong tea, we are particular about sipping the tea, so we often use purple clay teaware.

For shredded black tea or Gongfu black tea, we would like to brew the tea In a porcelain teapot or purple clay teapot, and serve the tea in white porcelain teacups.

For fine and tender green tea, such as Longjing, Bi Luo Chun, Junshao Huangshan or Maofeng, it is ideal to brew the tea in a glass teacup, but the glass teacup should be proper in terms of volume; if is too much freshly boiled water in the teacup, the temperature may be exceedingly high, which can affect the fresh color and the tenderness of the tea leaves when brewing. Once the leaves become soft, they may not be able to stand erect in the water, which reduces the fun of appreciating the tea leaves through the transparent glass. Moreover, the aroma of the tea can be lowered by the large quantity of heat in the teacup.

The covered tea bowl is widely used to brew black tea, green tea, yellow tea, and white tea.

For Pu'er tea, we choose a teapot with a large volume because the tea liquor of Pu'er tea is often very thick and heavy. So a teapot with a large volume avoids the danger of too heavy a flavor in the tea. Pu'er tea can also be brewed in a purple clay teapot, a covered tea bowl or in a Piaoyi cup.