All things Chinese tea, food and culture.

Recent Tea Posts

Why Jiaogulan is also known as the Immortality Herb: Video

Why Jiaogulan is also known as the Immortality Herb: Video

Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum) is a plant that grows in Southern China. Japanese researchers discovered this herb while looking for a natural sweetener. Yet, they discovered other more powerful health benefits. Joe Hollis gives a short introduction of this medicinal plant.

The History of Xiaguan Tuocha

The History of Xiaguan Tuocha

Yunnan Xiaguan Tuocha (Group) Co., Ltd. is a pu erh factory that’s prominent in the tea industry. The company is the result of a merger of many small factories in the Xiaguan district of Dali, Yunnan. The earliest company was established in 1902, meaning that […]

8 Major Raw Materials Used in Teaware!

8 Major Raw Materials Used in Teaware!

Teaware Meaning

The modern definition of teaware (Cha Ju, 茶具) is different from the ancient times. Teaware used to refer to the various tools used in tea production and consumption, including tea picking, making, drinking, storage etc. Nowadays, teaware only refers to tea utensils, including tea cups, teapots, tea bowls, saucers, trays and other drinking utensils.

The usage, maintenance, appreciation and the collection of teaware have become specialised knowledge. According to the different materials, teaware can be divided into 7 categories. You must have heard of Yixing Zisha (purple clay) and Jingdezhen porcelain. But what else is available? Let’s take a look now!

Chinese Teaware materials

Though we often speak of a Chinese tea culture, there’s a high diversity of sub-cultures. This isn’t strange as China is a large country with many small minority groups. Within China, 7 types of materials are regularly used to produce Chinese teaware.

Clay Teaware

Clay teaware mainly means Yixing made purple clay teaware (Yixing Zisha). It first appeared in the Northern Song Dynasty and flourished through Ming and Qing Dynasty. Till this day, Zisha teaware remains popular.

Yixing Zisha teapots are elegantly shaped with unique colour. Not only the looks made Zisha famous, but also its special qualities: low thermal conductivity, high density, unglazed surfaces that allow the tea to breathe. All these qualities help improve colour, fragrance and taste of the tea.

Because Yixing clay is appreciated for it’s great isolation, it’s often used to prepare oolong and pu erh tea, which require high temperatures.

Porcelain Teaware

  • White Porcelain (Bai Ci, 白瓷) Teaware: it has quite a few origins – Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province, Liling in Hunan, Dayi in Sichuan, Tangshan in Hebei, Qimen in Anhui. Among them, the products from Jingdezhen are the most famous ones. White porcelain is versatile, suitable for all kinds of tea.
  • Celadon Porcelain (Qing Ci, 青瓷) Teaware: Celadon teaware was mainly produced in Zhejiang and Sichuan Province. It is known as “the flower of porcelain” for its exquisite texture, smooth lines and pure colour.
  • Black Porcelain (Hei Ci, 黑瓷) Teaware: it is produced in Zhejiang, Sichuan and Fujian Province. Teaware made of black porcelain is solid and thick, with simple and classic looks and good thermal insulation.
gaiwan porcelain
Gaiwan made from porcelain

Unlike Yixing clay, this type of material doesn’t affect the taste of tea. Therefore, it’s perfect for teas with mild flavours such as green, yellow and white tea.

Glass Teaware

Glass, together with porcelain and Yixing, are among the top 3 most used teaware materials in China. Glassware perform poor when it comes to isolation. However, this doesn’t matter if you prepare teas that doesn’t require high heat, such as green tea.

The great advantage of glass teaware is its transparency. Tea enthousiasts love to stare at teas with beautiful appearances. When water is poured into a glass or teapot, once can see the leaves swirling around. This is often referred to as ‘dancing leaves

Glassware also allow you to better observe the colour change the tea liquor. In other words, glass teaware allows you to see clearly the entire brewing process, just like enjoying a dynamic art performance.

glass teapot infuser with warmer
Glassware with tea warmer and cups

Lacquer Teaware

Lacquarware are objects decoratively coated with the dyed, treated and dried sap of Toxicodendron vernicifluum or closely related trees.

metal steel tea infuser ball
Steel tea infuser ball

Lacquer teaware first appeared in Qing Dynasty, mainly produced in Fuzhou, Fujian Province. It is famous for the beautiful colours. It gets more appreciated among the collectors after the creation of the new crafts like “Red Jade”, “Gold Sand” and “Shadow Flowers”.

Metal Teaware

Teaware made of metals such as gold, silver, steel, copper, and tin has its moisture proof, leak-proof, antioxidant, anti-odour qualities. Tin is especially good for tea storage. Silver and copper is often used to produce water boilers, while gold is mainly used for decoration. At last, stainless steel is often used for tea strainers.

Bamboo and Wood Teaware

Historically, the vast majority of rural people used bamboo or wooden bowls to make tea as they were inexpensive, strong and light.

Today, it is still loved by many for its natural and unvarnished looks. Often times tea scoops, storage jars and the handle of tea knives are made from bamboo or other types of wood.

Enamel Teaware

Enamel teaware refers tools which usually have a metal base which is coated with a durable surface (enamel).

Enamel teaware is practical, anti-corrosion, light and not costly. It was popular throughout China in the 50’s and 60’s. But it has one flaw: high thermal conductivity. In other words, the teaware can become very hot to hold.

As people’s living standards gradually improved, enamel teaware has been slowly replaced by other kinds of teaware.

Bone China in English Teaware UK

One more teaware material that we shouldn’t forget is Bone China. It was discovered by Thomas Frye in the 18th century in the United Kingdom. Today, there are 3 types that we need to distinguish:

  • Bone China: is made by mixing cow bone ash with feldspar, ball clay, quartz, and kaolin. The cow bone component makes the teaware translucent.
  • Fine China: the same as bone china but without the cow bone ash.
  • New Bone China: calcium oxide is used instead of bone ash. This makes it less light and translucent, but makes the teaware whiter and improves the durability.

 

8 Dental Health Benefits of Drinking Green Tea

8 Dental Health Benefits of Drinking Green Tea

You can’t tackle your oral hygiene without taking your diet into account. The food and drinks that we consume have a direct impact on our health, particularly on our teeth and gums. In recent times the sugar content in foods has gone up, making the […]

Homemade Hawthorn Jam Recipe DIY

Homemade Hawthorn Jam Recipe DIY

Hawthorn berry is full of vitamin C, carotene and other antioxidants. These little red fruits can block and reduce the formation of free radicals, enhance our body’s immunity, help reducing blood pressure, and help indigestion. Although with all these health benefits, fresh hawthorn berry is […]

Why Chrysanthemum Tea is Good for Skin

Why Chrysanthemum Tea is Good for Skin

Drinking Chrysanthemum tea has a long history in Chinese culture. It is well known for its soothing aroma and multiple benefits for the human body including detoxification, clearing up the hot flashes, improving eyesight, relieving symptoms of sore throat and fever. But did you know it also holds many benefits for the skin?

Variaties

There are a number of varieties of chrysanthemum flowers. Their colours go from white-ish yellow to dark yellow. One popular variety is Gongju from Huangshan Mountain area, which means “tribute chrysanthemum” in Chinese. The Hangbaiju is another popular variety which comes from the city of Hangzhou. At last, the famous Taiju is made of the buds of Hangbaiju.

Good for Skin!

All chrysanthemum varieties are good for the skin. They have been traditionally used to treat skin irritation, redness, and eczema. Plenty of beta-carotene can be found in chrysanthemum that participates in metabolism and the maintenance of the human body. Beta-carotene also breaks down into vitamin A to provide a variety of different uses. Vitamin A presents itself as antioxidants, along with flavonoids found in chrysanthemum, help fight free radicals. Drinking chrysanthemum tea or use it on your skin will reduce wrinkles and blemishes, help decrease skin discolouration, eliminate puffiness. With it’s antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effect, it is often used to help reduce swelling and redness of acne.

Drinking Chrysanthemum herbal tea isn’t the only way to enjoy it’s skin benefits. Here are a couple of skin care tips using chrysanthemum flowers that have been proven effective as well:

Chrysanthemum and egg white renewal mask

Effects: reduce wrinkles, soften skin, effectively inhibit the production of melanin with regular use.

What’s needed: 5 grams of dry chrysanthemum, one egg white

Steps:

  • pour 50 ml (1 oz) of hot water over the chrysanthemum and wait for the water to cool down
  • blend the chrysanthemum with the cooled down water until smooth
  • stir the egg white with the blended chrysanthemum evenly
  • apply the mixture to clean face
  • when the it dries, rinse it off with water, apply moisturiser

Chrysanthemum anti-acne remedy

Effects: reduce the swelling, speed up the healing process, control the recurrence of acne with long-term use

What’s required: 50 grams of dry chrysanthemum, ice-cube tray

Steps:

  • boil the chrysanthemum with 300ml of water and simmer for 20 minutes
  • wait for the water to cool down, then discard the chrysanthemum
  • pour the cooled down water into the ice-cube tray, store in the freezer
  • when chrysanthemum water is frozen, rub it on the acne for 5 minutes, do it twice daily

Note: when you are holding the ice-cube, cover it with a towel to protect your hand.

This post is sponsored by Dream Kitchen Solutions: If you want your tea on the go, take a look at these travel mug reviews from Dream Kitchen Solutions.

8 Hunan Cuisine Dishes To Order When Travelling in China

8 Hunan Cuisine Dishes To Order When Travelling in China

The Hunan cuisine (湖南菜/湘菜) is best known for its common use of chili peppers. Due to its spicy dishes, it’s often compared with the Sichuan cuisine. If you ask any Chinese what their impression of Hunan food is, they will most likely tell you one […]

Pairing Cakes with Tea

Pairing Cakes with Tea

If you love tea, and you want to know what food goes well with tea, you simply can’t miss out on delicious cakes. Yet, every cake is different and depending on the taste profile, you’ll want to pair with the right tea. For tea and […]

Teforia Shuts Down: 10 Reasons Why Teforia Failed

Teforia Shuts Down: 10 Reasons Why Teforia Failed

Teforia is a startup that developed a sophisticated tea infuser accompanied with a smart mobile app. The company started off well with excellent publicity on sites like TechCrunch, Gizmodo and Engadget. And as you can see on the video below, it was presentation was promising. Yet, this week the company announced that it was shutting down as mentioned in their letter below in this post, which is also published on their website.

Though, the market of tea is seen as promising with high single digit growth rates, it seems that large companies as well as startups with lots of backing aren’t able to successfully enter the market. A similar disappointment was Starbuck’s Teavana exit from the tea market.

In this article, we look into the reasons why Teforia failed to make it’s product a great success:

1. The $1299 Price Tag

As easy it is create buzz and enjoy great publicity, it’s as hard to sell. For sure that the whole tea community online noticed the product, but likely not many decided to buy.

2. Lack of Demand for Tea Brewing Machines

Even if the price would be more reasonable, we believe there’s still a lack of demand for tea brewing machines. The tea market consists of those who want the convenience of a tea bag and others who actually love to make tea the traditional way. A tea machine is somewhere between convenient and ceremonial, which makes it positioning somewhat awkward.

3. Customer knowledge

The premium tea market is still in its early stages. And lots of beginning tea consumers still need to be educated. According to Teforia:

However, the reality of our business is that it would take a lot more financing and time to educate the market and we simply couldn’t raise the funds required in what is a very difficult time for hardware companies in the smart kitchen space.

Yet, we believe this statement is kind of contradictory. A brewing machine’s goals should bridge the knowledge gap. However, the sophistication of the machine actually further increased this gap.

4. Every tea is different

The Teforia machine was accompanied with an app, in which you can customise your brew, it doesn’t make selecting the right paramaters easier. Yes, there might be preset parameters based on the tea you’re brewing. Yet, even for the same tea, you have to customise, based on it’s specific leaf characteristics and variating levels of oxidation.

Teforia, tried to fix this by offering their own teas for which they can have tweaked parameters before hand, but knowing the tea consumer, they aren’t easily convinced to switch away from their favourite suppliers.

5. Juicero & the gloomy market for smart kitchen appliances

The downfall of Teforia also had something to do with a related product: The Juicero. It’s a $400 juice maker, which Bloomberg proved in the video below that it wasn’t needed:

The shutdown of Juicero definitely affected investors’ appetite for Teforia’s machine.

6. Tea is not coffee

In the world of coffee, people have a fetish for a great machine. Brewing coffee is a kind of science. It’s about optimisation and perfection. Though, tea compared a lot with coffee, there’s isn’t really such a tea as the perfect cup of tea. The individual’s taste for tea is just way more diverse than in the world of coffee.

Teforia’s machine, offered some personalisation, but aiming for that perfect cup was still the main goal. But tea really is not comparable to coffee. Especially in the premium tea segment, which Teforia targeted, people care about the journey more than the destination. They want to be in control and brew their own tea.

These things said, Teforia is still a company that many in the industry admired. It was absolutely the best attempt so far, to disrupt the premium tea industry.

Appendix: Teforia farewell letter:

Dear Teforia Customers and Partners,

Thank you for being our companion in our journey to elevate the tea experience. From day one we set out to deliver the best tea experience possible, from sourcing the best all-natural tea in the world, to development of the perfect recipes (with tea masters) to developing the most sophisticated and powerful infusion technology.

Your support, feedback and encouragement has fueled our drive on this journey. Even though we’re only sold in the U.S., Teforia Infusers are actively used in twenty different countries, four different continents, and have made almost half-a-million servings of tea in the past nine months.

In our mission to deliver the best tea experience, we didn’t compromise on the Teforia Infuser technology, quality or the premium tea packaged within our Sips. The glass within the infusion globe and carafe are hand blown by a glass artisan, one at a time. We spent a tremendous amount of time pioneering our Sips tea container to be 90% compostable and completely recyclable. We went to these extraordinary lengths because we believe premium loose leaf tea should be delivered in the most delicate and sustainable way possible.

We believe our customers are deserving of the best. Most of you agree with us. In fact, the prestigious World Tea Expo awarded Teforia with the 2016 Best Tea Industry Innovation Award and designated Teforia as the 2017 Best Tea Brewing Device.

We achieved all of this with a most amazing team of 15 highly passionate and highly skilled professionals, with the common belief that the tea experience should be simpler, more elegant and more rewarding.

However, the reality of our business is that it would take a lot more financing and time to educate the market and we simply couldn’t raise the funds required in what is a very difficult time for hardware companies in the smart kitchen space.

Therefore, it is with heavy hearts that we are announcing that all business operations, for Teforia Company, will cease effective today. We will continue to seek a partner that can leverage Teforia technology and/or provide Sips tea sales to continue our mission of elevating the tea experience. Hopefully you will see Teforia technology in future products.

8 Authentic Cantonese Food Dishes (With Video Recipes)

8 Authentic Cantonese Food Dishes (With Video Recipes)

Cantonese cuisine is one of China’s Eight Famous Cuisines and it’s also known as the ‘Guangdong cuisine’ (广东菜) or ‘Yue cuisine’ (粤菜). Cantonese food was the first Chinese food style that was introduced to the West, as the early days’ Chinese immigrants were from Guangdong […]