Teaware for Chinese tea ceremony

There are number of Chinese tea ceremonies and usually the main difference between them is type of teaware being used. New ceremonies emerged not because a tea master decided to brew tea in a different way, but because somebody has created a new teaware with some advantages to existing ones. Some teaware were later adopted by other tea masters and schools, some have not become popular and disappeared later. Let's try to make a list of every teaware item which is relevant to our days

Most used teaware in Chinese tea ceremony:

Gaiwan (盖碗 gàiwǎn) - cup with a lid

Gaiwan - is most commonly used teaware in China. You can put a lot of tea in gaiwan and use it to brew tea gongfu cha style, pouring tea in small cups for you and your guests, while you also can put a few grams of tea leaves and drink and drink your tea right from the gaiwan. It is actually the most common way to drink tea in China. People might go to experience tea ceremony on some rare occasions, but people also drink tea on other days.

Chahu (茶壶 cháhú) - teapot

Well, we all know what a teapot is :) First teapot was made long after gaiwan. There are number of different teapot, but usually they are rather small: 100-25 ml made of clay or porcelain. Yixing teapots are valued mostly. Is is hard to find a good yixing teapot, but if you manage to choose the right tea for a good yixing teapot - you will have a perfect cup. Yixing clay has is able to absorb taste of tea, so every next brewing is a bit different and with time your teapot will enrich yours tea flavour. You can hold yixing hot teapot and you won't get skin burns. Also, yixing clay is quite hard and durable, so with care your teapot will serve you and many generations after you, becoming a family treasure.

Chabei (茶杯 chábēi) - cups

Small cup is also nothing new for you. You can find cups of different chapes, made of different materials. While teapots are usually made of yixing clay or porcelain, ceramists have created a large variety of ceramics types and glazes for cups. That's why cups are so appreciated in China. You may use simple teapot and other teaware, but you'd better have a set of good cups.

Chahai (茶海 cháhǎi) - tea ocean, pitcher

Alternative name: "Gongdaobei"(公道杯 gōngdàobēi) - fairness cup and "Cha Zhong" (茶盅 сhá zhōng) - tea pitcher without handle. This is the cup, where tea infusion is poured from gaiwan or teapot before pouring it into cups. Some people life porcelain chahai, but most people today use glass chahi, because one can appreciate the beauty and color of the tea. I can not imagine the tea ceremony without chahai. Technically, it is the only optional item, but in fact - it is crucial part of the idea of tea ceremony. When you use chahai, you make equal tea for every guest. If you pour tea to the cups directly - the tea in the cup of your first guest will be mild, while the last guest will get very strong tea. Neither is going to like it and most importantly - the discussion of tea will be pointless: everybody will experience completely different tea.

Chahai is the most common name, but when chahai doesn't have any handle, it is more correct to call it chazhong. Gongdaobei - is the most explanatory name for this cup, but it is rarely used in real life.

Optional Chinese teaware:

Wenxiangbei (闻香杯 wénxiāngbēi) and pinmingbei (品茗杯 pǐnmíngbēi).

Wenxiangbei is used to appreciate aroma of the tea, while pinmingbei allows one to appreciate tea taste. Usually they have equal volume. Tea is poured in a tall cup, covered with a wide one and than they are flipped. First you pull tall cup, so tea can transfer to a wide one. You can smell tea from wenxiangbei. It will release smell for quite a while. Once wenxiangbei gets cool it stopes releasing the smell. By this time, tea decreases its temperature to a comfortable degree - it is a perfect time to drink it.

Chayeguan (茶叶罐 cháyèguàn) - tea caddy

Tea caddy is being used for carrying tea in the beginning of tea ceremony, while you can also store tea in it. Most caddies are made out of clay, celadon, porcelain, but some are made out of wood, silver, gold and other metals

Chahe (茶荷 cháhé) - tea lotus

Chahe is used for smelling tea leaves. In the beginning of tea ceremony you put some tea leaves from caddy to chahe and you can pass ше to your guests, so they can take a look at the leaves and smell it. During this process, you can warm up your teaware.

Chachong (茶宠 cháchǒng) - tea pet

Different figures that are usually on chaban during tea ceremony. Sometimes they symbolize topic of discussion that master has planned. Most of tea pets symbolize some of Chinese mythical creatures or philosophical/religious concepts. Some people recommend to pur tea over tea pets, so they will bring positive energy to your house. I would rather recommend to focus on educational purpose of tea pet: tell you guest a legend, story of philosophical concept, associated with your tea pet, give them time to think about it, discuss it and then, every time you would poor a tea over your chachong - they would think again about it and at some point - they will think about it in a new, unusual way. That is one way to serve and be useful to your guests

Chaban (茶板 chábǎn) - tea tray

Chaban is a small table, where you put all your teaware on. It has a tray for water and tea leftovers. Sometimes the word "Chapan" (茶盘 chápán) is used. They are very similar, but they hold different meaning. Chapan - is a tea tray, where water and leftovers are stored inside of it during the tea ceremony, while chaban should have a pipe going to some external tray or to the drain.

Shui Yu (水盂 shuǐ yú) - receptacle for water

It is an old alternative to chaban. You can place your teaware on some cloth and use shui yu only to poor out used water. Sometimes it is also used as a tray for teaware in the beginning of the ceremony

Chachi (茶 池 cháchí) - tea pond

It is a type of shuy yu, which uses a lid. You can use it the same way, as you would use small chaban: place teapot and cups on top, inner part will store used water.

Hucheng (壶承 húchéng)

Hucheng is a stand for a teapot. You can put it inside of shuy yu and use it to poor hot water on your teapot. Actually, you don't need any special item, you can use piece of stone or wood

Chaluwang (茶濾网 chálǜwǎng) - strainer

Strainer is used so tea leaves would not fall into your infusion. Some delicate teas like Bi Lo Chun suffer from strainer

Zhushuihu (煮水壶 zhǔshuǐhú)

This is a large teapot, where master boils water. Most zhushuihu are made of clay or glass, but iron ones are also popular. In Japan you would usually find tetsubin which is the same thing as zhushuihu, but it is always made of iron. To make things simpler, people often use simple thermos instead of zhushuihu. I would recommend to try using zhushuihu and heat it with charcoal at least once in order to experience real tea ceremony.


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