The Song Dynasty: Tea Wares in Paintings

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Posted on May 01 2023

The Song Dynasty: Tea Wares in Paintings

Eulogy of Teawares was written by Senior Shen An(Southern Song, AD1269), a famous tea maker in the Song Dynasty. It is the first atlas of Chinese tea utensils depicting the most typical teawares in the Song Dynasty in detail. He gave every teaware an official’s name, made poems and sketches of twelve teawares. This reflected that Song scholars paid high attention to objects they use for tea.


Tea roller 茶碾

tea roller

Jin Facao (Gold judicial officer): Tea roller, made of metal, for grinding tea cakes into powder. Song people followed the Tang way of grinding tea but they improved it into more complicated way.

Official’s Name: Jin Facao 今法曹

Material: Metal

Function: Grinding


Tea Baking Cage 茶培笼

tea baking cage

Wei Honglu (Bamboo and master of ceremony): Tea baking cage, made of bamboo, has holes all over it so it is also named “ relaxed senior with four windows. “It’s mainly for tea baking. Since people in the Song Dynasty used tea cake lumps, tea cakes had to be stored in dry places to prevent from mildewing after processed. Thus people at that time created this idea of using bamboo cage to store teacakes. 

Official’s Name: Wei Honglu韦鸿胪

Material: Bamboo

Function: Store teacakes


Rolling Stone Transporter 茶磨

stone tea roller

Shi Zhuangyun (Stone transport): A tea mill, made of stone, was also vividly called “ rolling stone transporter”. The way of using the tea mill was similar to that of the tea roller, which aimed to grind teacakes into powder. Tea mills had large and small sizes. The small one was more suitable for personal use while the large one was always set up by the government as it would use mechanical systems like waterpower.

Official’s Name: Shi Zhuangyun石转运

Material: Stone

Function: Grinding


Tea Hammer 茶槌

tea hammer

Mu Dazhi (Wood page): Tea hammer, to hit tea cakes, made of wood.

Official’s Name: Mu Dazhi木待制

Material: Wood

Function: hit tea cakes


Tea Ladle 瓢勺 

tea ladle

Hu Yuanwai (Gourd ministry councilor): A gourd ladle for taking water. Song scholars loved to use water from river to boil tea. Su Dongpo, a poet, once described a scene that people use big gourd ladle to take water from river for sea at a night with dim moonlight.

Official’s Name: Hu Yuanwai胡员外

Material: Gourd

Function: Ladle for taking water


Tea Pot 执壶

tea pot, water container

Tang Tidian (Water law enforcement officer): Water container, also called”pot with handle”. Mainly used to pour water and drip tea.

Official’s Name: Tang Tidian汤提点

Material: Metal or Porcelain

Function: Water container


Tea Whisk 茶筅

tea whisk

Zhu Fushuai (Bamboo deputy general): Tea brush, made of bamboo, used for mixing tea. A key point to win tea contest in the Song Dynasty was the technique of mixing tea with tea brush.

Official’s Name: Zhu Fushuai竺富帅

Material: Bamboo

Function: Mixing tea


Tea Brush 茶刷

tea brush

Zong Congshi (Main advisor): A brush for brushing tea powder. After tea was ground and filtered, people would use tea brush to sweep it into a box.

Official’s Name: Zong Congshi宗从事

Function: Bush tea powder


Tea Bowl 茶盏

tea bowl


Tao Baowen (Ceramic auspicious words): Tea bowl, here particularly referred to black- glazed ta bowl. This tea bowl had thick wall. The best one was the black-glazed bowl with hare fur pattern.

Official’s Name: Tao Baowen陶宝文

Material: Ceramic

Function: Tea bowl


 Tea Towel 茶巾

tea towel

Si Zhifang (Marshal) : Tea towel. It was vital to keep clean during tea dripping. Thus tea towel was the essential part among others.

Official’s Name: Si Zhifang司职方/茶巾

Material: Metal or Porcelain

Function: Wipe & clean


  Tea Sieve 罗盒

tea sieve

Luo Shumi (Sieve privy councilor): A tea sieve for filtering tea powder. If people paid special attention to the process, tea powder needed filtering with the sieve. Song people praised tea dripping and tea contest, so they had high requirements for tea powder. If people would like to be in a good position in tea contests, tea powder filtering was also an important stage.

Official’s Name: Luo Shumi罗枢密/罗盒

Material: Bamboo

Function: Filter tea powder

   Bowl Base 盏托

tea bowl base

Qidiao Mige ( Carved lacquer secret shelf): The bowl base to hold bowl and to prevent it from scalding hands. Bowl bases had various shapes in the Song Dynasty. They were normally coated of lacquer.

Official’s Name: Qidiao Mige漆雕秘阁/盏托

Material: Lacquer & Wood

Function: Hold and prevent it from scalding hands.

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