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Sep 27th, '15, 10:19
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Tea cup types

by Ant » Sep 27th, '15, 10:19

Hi All,

Having recently become more interested in my tea, I have have been trying to pick my way around the various types of tea ware and their usage. I have been able to locate information for most of my basic queries however I am am still a little vague on teacups.

I can find fair information in Japanese tea cups which seem to be compartmentalized roughly by usage and finer by style, I am unable to find similar information for Chinese / other regions.

Is there a resource i can be directed to, or is someone here the resource?

I guess my main questions are; are all Chinese teacups regarded as just teacups with only variance in style, Is the style regional or related to the time period?

Thanks

Ant

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Oct 4th, '15, 14:16
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Re: Tea cup types

by chamekke » Oct 4th, '15, 14:16

Plunging in since I see it's been a while since your post, and no one has answered...

I don't know anything about Chinese tea cups (almost all my cups are Japanese). Most of the discussions I've seen on TeaChat around Chinese tea wares have had to do with gaiwan or Chinese teapots.

Just to clarify, are you asking about small, unhandled Chinese cups - the type that would usually be called yunomi in Japan? Or something else? Maybe we can entice someone into posting if we can identify a starting point...

Oct 5th, '15, 01:05
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Re: Tea cup types

by Bok » Oct 5th, '15, 01:05

I guess you will find a lot of information on chinese cups and shapes by simply using google and typing Qing Dynasty tea cup, Song dynasty tea cup, tea ware etc.

Apart from that a lot of Japanese shapes and styles will overlap with Chinese ones, as a lot of these things are inspired by Chinese originals.

A tea cup is a tea cup, what else could it be? Kind of a philosophical question innit? :mrgreen:

Oct 5th, '15, 10:56
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Re: Tea cup types

by thirst » Oct 5th, '15, 10:56

(To the ones with more knowledge, please correct me where I’m wrong.)

Regardless of being tea ware or not, I think a lot of historical pottery in China is regional and related to a time period in that it’s often named after a number of related kilns located at a particular place and in that it often died out in later dynasties.

For this I’d recommend books about Chinese ceramics in general. If you want something free I guess you could start with this out of print book: http://www.metmuseum.org/research/metpu ... e_Ceramics or books in your local library. There are also web guides, I found this one http://archive.artsmia.org/art-of-asia/ ... ramics.cfm once and I remember visiting this blog https://collectionist.wordpress.com which has some pretty pictures if you click on of the topics at the top, but remember it’s a blog and not very authoritative. When you know the terms, you can also search through the online inventories of museums (of which a couple were recommended in a recent thread about tea ware paintings).

Regarding Chinese tea cups and bowls, a main differentiator in tea ware in particular should be the powdered/steeped tea dichotomy: black wares from e.g. the Jian or Jizhou kilns for frothy powdered tea in the Song dynasty and white porcelain for steeped tea in later dynasties.

Anyway, do also check out books specifically on Song dynasty ceramics. I readily admit that I’m a novice on all of these topics…but there’s an older book by Mary Tregear (”Song Ceramics”) that I find particularly interesting because it features shape diagrams, maybe you can find it in your local library.

Lastly…the Chinese produced wine cups as well. Meaning, just because it looks like a tea cup to you or me doesn’t necessarily mean that it was meant to be one. I’d guess that if it looks like a small tea cup but is from the Song or earlier…it’s probably a wine cup? Ask someone who knows more!! :D Of course, nowadays you have studios like Lin’s mimicking Ru ware for steeped tea…but then, I’ve read that the Qing attempted to resurrect some Song styles as well.

(On a side note…I thought yunomi were those big cylindrical cups, like western mugs but slimmer and without a handle. Is “yunomi” used to generally mean tea cup in Japan?)

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Oct 6th, '15, 17:53
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Re: Tea cup types

by Ant » Oct 6th, '15, 17:53

chamekke wrote:Just to clarify, are you asking about small, unhandled Chinese cups - the type that would usually be called yunomi in Japan? Or something else? Maybe we can entice someone into posting if we can identify a starting point...
Hi Chamekke, Yes the little handle-less bowls
Bok wrote:A tea cup is a tea cup, what else could it be? Kind of a philosophical question innit? :mrgreen:

Hi Bok, I guess any cup with tea in it must be a tea cup, but maybe not all are equally suitable, the perfectionist in me doesn't want to find out one day I've been enjoying my tea from a metaphorical sports cup (the meat and veg protecting type).
thirst wrote:(To the ones with more knowledge, please correct me where I’m wrong.)

Regardless of being tea ware or not, I think a lot of historical pottery in China is regional and related to a time period in that it’s often named after a number of related kilns located at a particular place and in that it often died out in later dynasties.

For this I’d recommend books about Chinese ceramics in general. If you want something free I guess you could start with this out of print book: http://www.metmuseum.org/research/metpu ... e_Ceramics or books in your local library. There are also web guides, I found this one http://archive.artsmia.org/art-of-asia/ ... ramics.cfm once and I remember visiting this blog https://collectionist.wordpress.com which has some pretty pictures if you click on of the topics at the top, but remember it’s a blog and not very authoritative. When you know the terms, you can also search through the online inventories of museums (of which a couple were recommended in a recent thread about tea ware paintings).

Regarding Chinese tea cups and bowls, a main differentiator in tea ware in particular should be the powdered/steeped tea dichotomy: black wares from e.g. the Jian or Jizhou kilns for frothy powdered tea in the Song dynasty and white porcelain for steeped tea in later dynasties.

Anyway, do also check out books specifically on Song dynasty ceramics. I readily admit that I’m a novice on all of these topics…but there’s an older book by Mary Tregear (”Song Ceramics”) that I find particularly interesting because it features shape diagrams, maybe you can find it in your local library.

Lastly…the Chinese produced wine cups as well. Meaning, just because it looks like a tea cup to you or me doesn’t necessarily mean that it was meant to be one. I’d guess that if it looks like a small tea cup but is from the Song or earlier…it’s probably a wine cup? Ask someone who knows more!! :D Of course, nowadays you have studios like Lin’s mimicking Ru ware for steeped tea…but then, I’ve read that the Qing attempted to resurrect some Song styles as well.

(On a side note…I thought yunomi were those big cylindrical cups, like western mugs but slimmer and without a handle. Is “yunomi” used to generally mean tea cup in Japan?)
Hi, Thirst, Thanks this is just the kind of jumping off point i was looking for.

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Re: Tea cup types

by Puerlife » Oct 8th, '15, 11:08

There are some important things I have done to improve my gong fu technique recently—a nice glazed ceramic kettle from Taiwan, an infrared hotplate to make my water alive, and better teapots and the knowledge of when to use them and when to stick with a gaiwan—but all of this can be negated by pouring your precious tea into bad cups.
The cups in the second photo are all old. The black one is from the 80s, the white and pink ones the 70s. The black one gives a tea a distinct juice-like aspect and is the best performer nine times out of ten; the white one makes certain teas incredibly smooth; and the pink one brings out the high notes and gives a longer, more complex finish to some puers, but also sometimes brings out an unpleasant sharpness to some puers and decreases the body. These cups are the perfect size to appreciate said attributes of tea—one good swallow or a few small sips is enough, then sit back and experience the tea. When I use a larger cup I tend to drink too fast and by doing so lose the enjoyment of each sip.
The five cups in the first photo are ones I have had for a long time. The one on the far left makes tea taste like chalk. It’s terrible. The next one is obviously bad, too, making the tea dull, flat, and adding a certain something that I don’t like. There two are so bad that even as a novice it was obvious to me and I never used them much. The one in the middle and the pinkish one were my main cups for a long time. I have had them for two years or less and I assume they were manufactured not long before that. They are cheap cups that I found in Chiang Mai. The white one on the right is made of some kind of special porous porcelain or celadon and I bought it to decrease the bitterness and sharpness of some teas and bring out the good aspects. It does this to a certain extent and is better for many of my puers than the other two, but it’s very inconsistent and I can’t put my finger on its personality. But all three are shockingly bad compared the the old cups in the first photo. They make the tea relatively flat and harsh. After using the old cups you’ll never use the new ones again. Why is this? In short, I don’t know. I could guess, and write about the energy that builds up in old stuff, but I don’t really know. For whatever reason, old stuff is good. Cups matter.
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Re: Tea cup types

by hobin » Oct 8th, '15, 12:10

Ant wrote: Hi Bok, I guess any cup with tea in it must be a tea cup, but maybe not all are equally suitable, the perfectionist in me doesn't want to find out one day I've been enjoying my tea from a metaphorical sports cup (the meat and veg protecting type).
I wouldn't mind using a cup not meant for tea as a teacup... Japanese have been using korean rice bowls for matcha since the time of the first tea masters :D
I often drink sencha in old japanese soba choko cups ... they work pretty well as tea cups...
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Re: Tea cup types

by Bok » Oct 9th, '15, 02:40

Puerlife wrote:After using the old cups you’ll never use the new ones again. Why is this? In short, I don’t know. I could guess, and write about the energy that builds up in old stuff, but I don’t really know. For whatever reason, old stuff is good. Cups matter.
I can confirm this from my own experience as well. I have one outstanding cup in which all my tea taste better than in any other cup I have tried. It is an old Qing dynasty export porcelain cup (done for the European market). On ebay in the UK there are tons of those to be found at a relatively cheap price. The walls are almost paper-thin at the edges and have a greenish-translucency. One can tell the material is not as pure as industrial ones and it has small imperfections.

But I would guess the improved taste has something to do with superior craftsmanship at those times and probably the use of slightly different raw materials. So for me I either make my own clay cups or use old ones in porcelain.

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Oct 9th, '15, 04:39
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Re: Tea cup types

by Ant » Oct 9th, '15, 04:39

Reading this commentary has me wondering if one of the basic assumptions behind my original inquiry may be flawed.

I assumed that there is a "right" type of cup for different styles of tea, preparation or drinking ritual, that this would be evident in some branching evolution of cup type and that this would be quantifiable by shape, material, decoration etc.

Now it seems while there is an evolution through various regions and time periods (for which i would still be grateful of additional incite) it seems that maybe I underestimate how much effect of an individual cup would have on the taste of the tea. And since personal taste preference will vary, so will the "right" cup?

Being a new to this I guess I would probably miss a lot of the subtle difference, tho I am happy the solution seems to be to drink more tea.

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Re: Tea cup types

by Tead Off » Oct 9th, '15, 05:56

Parlour games. It's very entertaining and eventually costs you a bundle of money trying to find the 'best' of this and that. Since science and ancient philosophies tells us our brains are creating all the sensory perceptions/interpretations, not our actual experience of anything, I find that way more fascinating than cup explorations. :D In other words, it's all in your heads.

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Re: Tea cup types

by Puerlife » Oct 9th, '15, 09:37

Tead Off wrote:Parlour games. It's very entertaining and eventually costs you a bundle of money trying to find the 'best' of this and that. Since science and ancient philosophies tells us our brains are creating all the sensory perceptions/interpretations, not our actual experience of anything, I find that way more fascinating than cup explorations. :D In other words, it's all in your heads.
And yet you own, what, a hundred teapots or more?

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Re: Tea cup types

by kyarazen » Oct 9th, '15, 10:29

Puerlife wrote:The black one is from the 80s, the white and pink ones the 70s. The black one gives a tea a distinct juice-like aspect and is the best performer nine times out of ten; the white one makes certain teas incredibly smooth; and the pink one brings out the high notes and gives a longer, more complex finish to some puers, but also sometimes brings out an unpleasant sharpness to some puers and decreases the body.
the black cup is well loved and well promoted by ricky of dazizai. there are various sizes and shapes to the black cup, of the same exact material, and similar wall thicknesses, some with a rounder edge, some with fluted edge, which you can get ricky to demonstrate the properties of each of them.

in my own experience with these black cups, and the corresponding pink ones of the exact same design just diff external pattern, the feel of drinking from these cups is very round, full thick, as compared to a zisha cup.

i have to apologize to a certain forum member which i dont remember whom but he had asked about cups a few months ago and i remember promising him a write up which i totally forgot about till now!

our mouths are able to taste temperature gradients, as such food when hot or when cold, drinks when hot or cold, have different texture, shapes and feels to the mouth. the black cups cool the tea liquid touching the walls, leaving the centre of the brew being the hottest, at the same time, the ceramic is not so hydrophillic, the tea liquid slips off easily, giving an impression of an enveloping feel. between the black ones and the red ones, the black ones cool faster, and as such is perceived to perform better in my opinion. the red ones can still be bought for like sixty cents a piece locally, not many people use them for tea anymore, just only for offering tea or wine to gods and deities on altars.. :lol:

in comparison if one uses a zisha cup, due to the tea liquid liking to smear on the ceramic surface, when drinking from it, the tea liquid is "stretched" giving the liquid a thin taste/feel. the wider the cup, the thinner the feel :D

strange, but it is definitely perceivable if one gets down to the tedious testings and experiments.

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Re: Tea cup types

by kuánglóng » Oct 9th, '15, 12:06

Add the sensorial feedback from our densely innervated lips and gums for some extra impressions our brains have to process. Then there are the facial muscles - real resource hogs. Just imagine drinking any tea out of your favorite cup xy while grimacing, or out of something with a one-inch wall or a paper cup or e.g. with a fresh wound to that area or any other factors (noise, ...) that just waste precious neural processing resources. Over here too, the right cup (material, geometry/surface) is one of the key elements and my favorite cups (cameras, ...) are those that need the least amount of attention/adaptation and don't get in the way of the process. YMMV.

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Re: Tea cup types

by Tead Off » Oct 9th, '15, 23:04

Puerlife wrote:
Tead Off wrote:Parlour games. It's very entertaining and eventually costs you a bundle of money trying to find the 'best' of this and that. Since science and ancient philosophies tells us our brains are creating all the sensory perceptions/interpretations, not our actual experience of anything, I find that way more fascinating than cup explorations. :D In other words, it's all in your heads.
And yet you own, what, a hundred teapots or more?
lol. That's why I can say what I said. :D

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Re: Tea cup types

by Puerlife » Oct 10th, '15, 00:31

Well if you are presenting yourself as a cautionary tale I'm not buying it--your collection looks pretty good from here. 8)

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