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Tea in China

Tea is drunk to quench thirst. It is also drunk when taking a break, over conversations and to welcome guests. On the side of a street, at family gatherings – in some countries, tea is more than just a beverage and carries deep insight into its culture.

For this edition, Found MUJI explores the topic of tea in China. Tea drinking is believed to have originated in China, so tea cultivation and the evolution of pottery made for different teas could also be traced back to ancient times. Tea is integral to the lives of the Chinese people – look anywhere in this vast country, there is bound to be someone enjoying a sip of tea nearby.


Jingdezhen Porcelain

Porcelain, often referred to as “china” in English, is possibly China’s most ancient and well-known export. The process for making porcelain is a demanding one and had first evolved in China.

Jingdezhen is a small town north east of Jiangsu province, located closed to Gaoling Mountain, which has an abundant supply of the raw material kaolin, a key ingredient used in porcelain. The area was also surrounded by pine forests that supplied firewood for the kilns, which naturally allowed Jingdezhen to become one of the first mass porcelain production hubs in the world. Being an industrial town also meant a constant need for techniques to be developed and refined over the centuries, and this results in high quality pieces – be it a small cup as thin as eggshells or mass produced tableware for export. Jingdezhen ceramics is a household name and remains as common and also highly regarded in China and abroad today.



Yixing Ware (Zisha)

Made from an iron-rich clay that can be sourced from just one area in China, Yixing ware is referred to as “zisha”, which literally means “purple sand”. Yixing ware have characteristic rich earthy tones, with the most well known being the deep purples and reddish browns.

Used almost exclusively for black, oolong and pu’er teas, Yixing teapots are typically small and perfect for the shorter steeping times of these stronger tasting teas. The tea is, served and drunk relatively quickly, and the same leaves are steeped for several rounds to draw out slightly different flavours each time.



Longquan Celadon

Just as the jade stone has always been seen as a symbol for good virtues in Chinese culture, the delicate green glazes of Longquan celadon has been highly regarded since ancient times. First known to exist in the times of the Three Kingdoms (from around the year 220 to 280), techniques and styles have been extensively developed since then.

The distinctive glazes range from jade greens to soft blues, even yellows and browns. Locally sourced rocks are wood fired at high temperatures, which are then powdered and mixed with water to create these glazes. Even when many layers of glazes are applied, the end piece would not appear thick but retains its delicate colour and appearance thanks to the highly refined techniques developed over the centuries.

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