Sunday, October 15, 2006

Hand painted (?) prune flower cups

Lovely porcelain cups, classic blue and white. Very thin wall. Cups very snuggly in hand.

Since the Ming Dynasty, white porcelain tea wares became popular due to the change of tea drinking preference. Loose leaves became popular, mostly contributed by the first emperor of Ming. He ordered contribution tea in loose leave form instead of the cake form in previous dynasties. Ming was also the period when tea was steeped instead of cooked in Tang period and powdered (Dian Cha - similar to Matcha) in Song. White porcelain can reflect the true color of tea soup.

It's interesting how everyday life was and still is influenced by government in every corner of the earth, ie Boston tea party?!


eugene said...


My name is Eugene and I am a newbie in the tea world. I know you do not post vendor information on this blog but I still would like to know where you got those very cool teacups. I also have a question about oolong teas. I have a Yixing pot, which, as of now, is not yet seasoned with tea. I would like to dedicate it to only one type of oolong, say Tung Ting. However, I do not know whether there are different grades of this oolong, and if mixing them would affect the original flavor. Any tips would be very appreciated

Imen said...

Hi Eugene,

I found those cups at Wing Hop Fung in LA. If you live in the area, the Monterey park store is a fun place to shop.

Dong Ding oolong comes with different grades and degrees of fire roasting. As for seasoning a pot, I'd dedicate it to similar roasting oolongs, say light to medium, but not mixing with high fired, or high fired by itself.

Red clay is less porous than purple clay. Fragrant tea such as light to medium Dong Ding usually goes well with purple (more porous clay) pots, high fired tea such as Tie Guan Ying can go well with red clay (less porous) pots.

It all comes down to how well the pot can enhance the flavor of a particular oolong. It's okay to test all kinds oolong at the beginning, before the pot takes on a flavor. Once you partner the pot with a suitable oolong, then try to stay within something similar. Get to know the tea by using a gaiwan before throwing it in a pot.

In my opinion, it takes a long time, years of daily use of the same type of tea, for a pot to develop its own scent identity.

Hope this helps, and have fun!

eugene said...

Thanks for the tips. I am still confused a little, so I have some more questions. You seem to know quite a bit about teas. Is that from experience or from someone else. As for the oolongs, how do you know which tea will fit the pot? Please give me some tips on what you mean by "getting to know the tea?"

Thanks for your help

Imen said...

I learn from a teamaster to begin with, it was a four 3 hours day classe. From there on, it is experimenting, learning from others and on my own.

Try brewing the same tea in a gaiwan and yixing pot side by side at the same time, compare to find out if a pot can enhance the tea. If tea tasted better in a gaiwan than a yixing pot, then it's not the right tea to pair with that pot.

Getting to know the tea is to find out whether it's a fragrant tea or earthy or bitter or astringent, you would want to brew something similar in the same pot. :)

eugene said...


I have a question for you about Yixing teapots. I am thinking about purchasing a Yixing pot but worried that it will not be authentic. I have read that most of the Yixing zisha clay has been depleted and many teapots on the market are now regular clay or mixes. How can you tell if a teapot is fake? Where can I get an authentic teapot?

Many thanks

Imen said...


Sorry for the delayed response.

It's very difficult to tell in fact. I have some pots from the recent years that makes very good tea although not made with pre-existing clay. It's a process of trial and elimination. If price is not a concern for you, Stephane at has some very nice pots. Hou De also has good selections. Scott at ebay has some modern day clay pots that are quite nice and economical.

Good luck, I hope you'll find a pot that you love for many years to come. :)