A Never Ageing Tradition
According to popular legend, tea was discovered by Chinese Emperor Shennong in 2737 BCE when a leaf from a nearby shrub fell into water the emperor was boiling. Tea is deeply woven into the history and culture of China. The beverage is considered one of the seven necessities of Chinese life, along with firewood, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce and vinegar.
The accepted history of the tea set begins in China during the Han Dynasty (206-220 B.C.). At this time, tea ware was made of porcelain and consisted of two styles: a Northern white porcelain and a southern light blue porcelain. It is important to understand that these ancient tea sets were not the creamer/sugar bowl companions we know today. An archaeological dig turned up an ancient kiln that contained the remnants of a Yixing teapot. They are named for a tiny city located in Jiangsu Province, where a specific compound of iron ore results in the unique colouration of these teapots. They were fired without a glaze and were used to steep specific types of ‘ool ong’ teas. Because of the porous nature of the clay, the teapot would gradually be tempered by using it for brewing one kind of tea. This seasoning was part of the reason to use Yixing teapots. In addition, artisans created fanciful pots incorporating animal shapes.
The Song Dynasty also produced exquisite ceramic teapots and tea bowls in glowing glazes of brown, black and blue. A bamboo whisk was employed to beat the tea into a frothy confection highly prized by the Chinese.
After hundreds of years the Chinese made the most beautiful the tea sets. There are numerous variations of designs of tea sets, it has art mixed with culture.