- Tea Knowledge
A piece of living history, the craft of producing these tea bowls, known as Jianzhan, has remained fundamentally unchanged in the centuries since its development. First produced during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) in Fujian, the black Jian ware became famed for its somber colour, lustrous sheen, and most of all for the fantastic patterns these produced in conjunction. Its dense clay is heavy with iron oxide, limestone, and feldspar, and adds a solemn weight in the hand; iron oxide reappears in the glaze which iridesces in a panoply of patterns, alternating reflections with a deep black beneath. The bottom of the vessel is also unglazed, exposing the raw, dark clay.
Originally created for the diancha style of preparing tea, in which the leaves are ground and foamed with a whisk, the style became popular in Japan as Temmoku ware, and the traditional green tea still provides a beautiful contrast to the dark cup, particularly with an errant little leaf or two floating on the surface.