Monday, August 27, 2007

Celadon tea cups

Green (Qing si) was Lu Yu's favorite color for tea cups and bowls. I already explained why in an article some 2 years ago. In the meantime, I have added different shapes and sizes of celadon cups to my selection. Here, you can see them all together on one picture:

We can separate them in 2 categories. On the left, the big cups (around 6 cl) and on the right 2 smaller sizes (around 3 cl):

On this picture, I have repeated the tea color experiment. I have used the top grade 'lily flower' Baozhong for this purpose, a very lightly oxidized Oolong.

Again, we can see that the tea will look light yellow in the white cup (top right). In the celadon cups, on the other hand, the tea looks like a fresh green. Size and shape of each cup will also impact the brightness of the tea. The shallow cup make the tea appear more light.

These celadon cups also provide for a different tea experience because they are rather heavy (50 gr to 80 gr) and yet there glazing is extremely smooth. Usually, we strive to drink from a very thin cup in order to forget about the cup. With these cups, though, as you bring it to your mouth, their weight and smooth touch is almost like a kiss!

This kind of feeling works best with sweet teas with a lot of body, like roasted Oolongs or cooked/old puerh, I find.

Interestingly, the color of cooked puerh is also impacted by the celadon. Here, the white cup is in the middle and the tea looks more red. In the celadon cups, the tea has a brownish appearance. And with the shallow (triangular shape) cups (see below) the tea goes through a greater color gradiation. The large rim is very different from the darker color in the center of the cup. This makes the tea appear more mysterious as its color changes depending where you look in the cup.


Michel said...

These cups are actually of a thin body with a thicker glaze, what the chinese call 'chun' or 'jun' which used to be an imperial blue only for the court.if I'm correct?

Some story goes that due to the difficulty in getting them perfect many less good ones 'seconds' got sold on the market and it then became mainstream.

Anonymous said...

Je possede grand modele evasé; ainsi que le petit aux parois arrondies: je ne peux que confirmer ce qu en dit Stéphane; ces tasses procurent vraiement un PLUS lors de la dégustation de thé de bouche comme les Pu Er ou Oolongs torréfiés... elles sont parfaites tant par leur dessin; leur poids; la qualité du revetement et leur couleur... elles enrichissent l'expérience de dégustation; elles la rendent beaucoup plus sensuelle... je possède de nombreux modèles de tasses mais celles-ci sont de loin mes favorites.... j'en ai d'ailleurs recommandé dernièrement.

Mat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mat said...

Ces tasses ont vraiment l'air exceptionnelles, je suis encore plus impatient de recevoir celle que j'ai inclu dans ma prochaine commande!


TeaMasters said...


The glaze is definitely quite thick. Qing Si was also called Mi Si, secret color, when it was invented, as very few potter knew how to produce it. The imperial court always received the best of every product/food in the country. So, for some time, this was indeed reserved for the court.

Merci Thomas de nous faire partager ton expérience.

Steph said...

Wow - this is fascinating! Thank you!

venant tout droit de provence , said...

douce et charnue comme les levres d'une jolie femme la coupe en céladon magnifie ( pour moi ) les thés "lourds" , qui ont du corps , comme certains shû ou des thés torréfiés .... plaisir du soir !
avec leure masse , la profondeur des thés cités n'en sont que prononcée .
les thés verts y gagnent aussi en puisance .
je ne bois plus que d'en celles ci la plupart du temps . merci stephane pour les chefs d'oeuvre que tu nous deniche ;-)

Bret said...

I bought a boxed set of four large size cups which I use daily. While I like these cups they are definitely a manufactured celadon. Nothing wrong with that but there is a big difference between handmade celadon using the traditional red clay base and the white porcelain base. Though these cups do try to give the appearance of red clay by painting the rim with a red color. So these cups have nothing in common with the celadon made by artisan potters using traditional materials. These cups wouldnt have made it past the courts gate. But again, I like these cups and use them daily.