Blanc De Chine Porcelain is a style of Chinese pottery. Blanc De Chine translates from French as "White from China." It is known as Dehua Porcelain in China. This porcelain style originated in Dehua, Fujian province, China, during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).
The surroundings of Dehua, Fujian, have large kaolin clay deposits, which are ideal for quality porcelain production. In fact, it's known as the best in the country. Most porcelain from Dehua was made for export to Europe, with a small amount being left for the local public market.
Although throughout time this gradually changed when statues became a big part of Dehua potters repertoire. The potters were making impressive statues of deities and respected figures. Many of these statues are still kept in museum collections across the world.
Dehua's kaolin clay is pure and has a low iron oxide content. This results in a brilliant bright white finish color.
Ming Dynasty Pottery
Chinese pottery has a lengthy history, dating back to the Paleolithic era. Moreover, porcelain was first made in China. Hence it is called "china" in English-speaking countries worldwide.
The Ming period (1368–1644) of China saw a fascinating "kiln culture" of sorts. While there were kiln sites dedicated solely for the royal court, the Ming Dynasty also saw a rise in export pottery.
Kaolin clay has a low iron oxide content. Not only does it produce a brilliant white hue, but it also makes the pottery ware stronger, which was perfect for high-quantity export. Most Dehua pottery was exported to Europe, where it was termed "Blanc De Chine," meaning "White from China" in French. This ceramic style was favored in Europe, especially in combination with beautiful artwork that sometimes adorned the pottery.
During the Ming Dynasty, over 180 kiln operated throughout Fujian province. Most were used for export pottery.
Everything you can imagine was made in the Blanc De Chine pottery style, not just teaware. Jars, boxes, lamps, flower pots, brush holders, and a wide variety of religious and non-religious statues. This pottery style's versatility is undoubtedly one of the reasons it has gained such immense worldwide popularity.
Many of the Dehua kiln sites are still functioning today, and fine pottery and teaware is still made using age-old techniques.
Why Use Blanc De Chine for Tea?
Blanc De Chine pottery is amazing to use for tea, just like any porcelain teaware. Porcelain is excellent to use with any tea type. It's usually used for tea tastings, as it doesn't alter the taste of the tea. Porcelain teaware is ideal for light teas like green tea, white tea, yellow tea, and light oolongs. The thin walls don't retain heat as much as other pottery styles, like yixing. Overheating or over-brewing delicate light teas can be a concern when choosing the right pottery for any tea type.
The gentle colors of the light tea brews contrast beautifully against the bright white of the teaware. The porcelain gently draws out even the subtlest of tea notes instead of muting them.
If you are about to try a new tea or do a tea tasting and take some tea notes, we surely recommend using porcelain teaware for the first time!
Blanc De Chine, in particular, is known for its translucency. This is a much sought after technique and can only be achieved in the hands of the most skilled potters. Putting the teaware against the light, you will see how thin the pottery actually is as the light will start to filter through. Dehua pottery often develops a refined greenish-white luster, similar to Jade. For this reason, the pottery is often referred to as "Jade Porcelain" in Chinese.