As many forum members have noticed, I have a rather low regard for the quality of tea and teaware generally made available to westerners from mainland China. I also mistrust the majority of vendors selling these items, especially on sites like EBay. However, I also know that China was one of the greatest cultural and arts centers in the world prior to 1947, and that there still remain in China some tea and teaware producers who care about their arts and are not driven strictly by profits. I will support these vendors, artists, manufacturers, and craftsmen on the rare occasion when I am actually able to find them.
Thanks to some postings and comments by Zensuji, I decided to purchase a high-end Jingdezhen gaiwan from Jerry Ma at China Cha Dao. I have always felt that modern Jingdezhen products were over-rated. I have never owned a Jing De gaiwan that had a decent lid fit or that poured properly. I hoped I would have better luck using this vendor. I'm happy to say I did.
Although not perfect as far as lid fit, this is by far the best Jingdezhen gaiwan I have owned. The lid fits better than any other I have tried and the pour into a pitcher is quite good. This product is supposed to be 100% hand-made so I don't expect perfect lid fit. The porcelain appears to be of a very high grade and is quite thin and light for it's 200ml size. It does a fantastic job with Chinese greens and also worked very well with Keemun Gift Grade red tea from Jing Tea Shop.
The painting on the gaiwan is another story. It is so absolutely perfect that I initially thought it was transfer printing with some areas hand-painted. However, closer inspection failed to show anything definite that would prove this was not painted by hand. Some online research led me to a company that distributes Chinese teaware, including items with the same seal. They clearly state that these are hand-made and hand painted. If in fact it isn't, I believe the vendor would have been unaware of this based on the comments from the distributor. If it is 100% hand painted, the artist is a true master of his craft. This gaiwan is absolutely gorgeous, even more so than shown in the vendors pictures. Either way, it's a keeper and will not be returned.
While searching online, I did find the "normal" version of this design on a regular teaset. Although very nice, this gaiwan is a mile ahead in it's execution of the artwork. The vendor had stated this was a special hand-painted version for the Year of the Tiger and it is, indeed, very special when compared to the standard version.
I am extremely particular when purchasing teaware and related cultural products, especially those from China. I will definitely add Jerry Ma and China Cha Dao to my very short list of trusted vendors from the mainland. Everything was exceptional including the packaging and I appreciate those forum members who recommended this vendor.
These comments are based on one purchase, but I will soon be placing a second order and I have no second thoughts about doing so.
Edit: This also came in a very high quality traditional cloth-covered box that was not mentioned in the product description. This was an added bonus I didn't expect.