Bringing ancient tea making to life for people today
I first experienced a traditional Chinese gong fu tea ceremony in a small teahouse next to the Confucius Temple in Beijing. I was studying Mandarin in the city after graduating from university, and looking to absorb as much of traditional Chinese culture as I could during my stay.
It was the first time I had seen a gaiwan, a simple lidded bowl and saucer set used to make tea. The gaiwan is one of the oldest ways to make tea in China, itself the world’s oldest tea culture. Watching the tea master expertly infuse the tea was simultaneously a very calming but engaging experience.
As I watched her circulate the leaves in the bowl with the edge of the lid, then deftly pick up the bowl and lid, tilt the lid back and pour the tea into a pitcher, it all seemed so elegant and simple. I bought a gaiwan there and then and set about learning how to use it. I quickly found it was not as easy as it looked, the master in the teahouse had made it look deceptively easy. I persisted though, and got the knack of it eventually.
What I most loved about using a gaiwan, and still do, is how hands on it is, how much making tea in a gaiwan makes you appreciate the tea you are drinking, the aromas, colours and sounds. You can’t use a gaiwan on autopilot, as you can with infusing a tea bag, you need to concentrate and take a moment to focus on what you’re doing. As with all gong fu tea ceremonies, it’s a great ritual that roots you in the moment, and one that you can enjoy over many quick infusions.
While living in Taiwan for six months last year, working on new teaware designs, I took the opportunity to immerse myself in traditional tea culture. I finally had the chance to look into a question that had been on my mind since my experience in Beijing – how could I make a tea set, inspired by the classic gaiwan ceremony, but designed for people today, that anyone could use perfectly first time? The Tea Master project was born.
So much care and attention to detail has gone into the design and production of this product. To create the double-walled body of the Tea Master we have pushed porcelain manufacturing to its limits, going through many rounds of samples to achieve a shape that is balanced and comfortable to hold, even when infusing tea with boiling water over many infusions. We tweaked the shape of the spout over and over to ensure a steady, and non-drip pour, which is truly harder than it sounds!
Today, I’m so happy to see the Tea Master sets launching exclusively on our website. I really hope our customers enjoy using the Tea Master. I hope it gives you a simple and easy way to enjoy loose tea, bringing a little bit of ancient tea culture to life for you everyday.