19 January 2009

How refined porcelain can enhance your brew

In a past post, I wrote about how my tea friend Daniel of Arts de Chine and I believed that old porcelain brewing vessels did not significantly affect the taste of tea. 

Although I knew that different types of tasting cups would also affect the taste of tea, I didn't know to what extent until I recently tried tea in a custom, hand-made porcelain tasting cup made from Dehua clay.  I am not quite sure why this particular type of clay can enhance the tea, but the clay itself and the shape of the cup do significantly affect and can improve the taste of tea.  I tried several types of astringent oolongs using different cups, and the taste in the Dehua porcelain made the tea rounder, softer and more aromatic.

Dong Ding cups - pricey one on top Dehua cups on top and left - same tea in all 3 cups

These cups aren't cheap, roughly 10 times more expensive than a good-grade of a regular cup, or about 25-30 times more expensive than a mass-produced one you can find at a regular store.  I bought a few from the only proprietor that carries this specific cup, Wistaria Tea in Taipei.  I have been told that there are brewing vessels that can be made with this clay that would further enhance the tea. 

Good tea, good clay, good water, good company...drink good tea and enrich your life.


  1. w/r/t this post and the other one like it a while back, I wonder if it's possible to distinguish between genuine antique cups and modern ones.

    I think porcelain is a /little/ easier to authenticate than (say) Yixing, but still, the Chinese have a lot of years of experience making reproductions. Assuming you either use an older style of production, or approximate it somehow, and get the same thickness porcelain and a similar glaze, I wonder whether the differences would be as pronounced.

  2. Hey Will, I think you're right. If you could find the same type of clay to make the porcelain and make the products with the same thickness and glazing, I don't think the differences would be pronounced like with a clay pot. The cups I have are modern "interpretations" of older cups made with the Dehua clay. I have been told that the modern cups improve the taste of tea as much as, if not more than, the older ones.

  3. Yeah - I realized they were modern cups after I hit submit (and by the way, I meant modern reproductions up above). Maybe would have been a better comment for the other post.

    Hope things are going well if you're still in Taiwan!