The first Gaiwan by Ms Yang Huiting was bought in a shop on Yongkang Street in Taipei. I brought it home, brewed extensively with it and found that it brewed teas well indeed! And it was decided that we had to sought out Yang Huiting to find out more about her teaware!
I contacted her and she very kindly agreed to meet her in the studio she shared with her husband Mr Feng Jian Zhou in Gaoshiung.
So the story starts with Mr Feng Jian Zhou, who is a renowned tea teacher and potter in Taiwan. Mr Feng and Ms Yang met and they fell in love and along the way, Ms Yang became involved with tea and tea ware. They now teach tea together in their beautiful tea space in Kaoshiung, and are both established ceramic artists in Taiwan.
The fact that she is a tea teacher and potter explains why her teaware brewed tea so well, both functionally and in terms of taste!
To understand Ms Yang's style, she first explained that they share a love for collection of antiques. They love the way time ravages objects and leaves them with more character. Walking around the studio, its easy to see their love for aged things.
With this appreciation for scars left behind by time, she applies this to her tea ware. The distressed effect of faded paint on metal or wood is a source of inspiration for her soulful tea wares.
Ms Yang shared that the aged feel of her teaware is achieved by layering different coloured slips. She then decides if she prefers to fire her teaware with oxidation or reduction process, which also creates different effects.
Besides experimenting with clay slips, she also explores different forms and interpretation of Gaiwan. An interpretation that she loves is pairing the Gaiwan paired with a multi-purpose tray-plate instead of the usual saucer! She likes the updated look and functionally, the tray can hold cups or snacks as well. The simple appearance of these trays betray the effort that goes in to produce a flat and even piece. Just imagine making flat pieces with play dough that sticks onto your work surface each time!
And because celadon is a neutral surface for tea brewing, she chooses to use celadon glaze internally with for her teaware. She stated her preference for darker, more oxidised teas like Muzha Tie Kwan Yin, occasionally may be brewed better with Shino Glazed teaware, which seems to soften the roastedness of the roasted teas. Celadon does not mask the flavours in anyway thus will bring out all notes equally, which is perfect for someone who drinks a wide range of tea types!
We were on the topic of Shino Glazed teapots because her husband, Mr Feng, had a very beautiful one in the studio that I was eyeing. He is a very established and award winning ceramic artist. Here are some of his works, which are very different in style from Ms Yang's.
Their tea ware were used together during the tea session, each reflecting their own personalities, yet complementing each other styles. I am always amazed at how the style of the ceramic pieces seems to reflect the potter's character! Ms Yang is lady of few words, but she is firm in her ideas of order and understated beauty. Though they share a lot of same artistic appreciation and values, Mr Feng is more expressive about his ideas and he is happy to speak his mind. Do you see the different characters in their teaware?
Below is the said Shino Teapot that I was eyeing, with a matching teacup, resting on Ms Yang's tea tray.
From speaking to Ms Yang and Mr Feng, I know there is so much more to learn of tea and pottery than I can gleam from one afternoon's visit. They were so generous in sharing their knowledge (and their good teas!), and I sure hope to be back to visit them again soon!
We love her teaware so much we want to share them with the world! So do check our website up from time to time, where we carry some of her beautiful pieces!
About all things Tea
Hello! My name is Hongyuan!