Jian ware (also known as Jian Zhan or Tian Mu Porcelain) is a type of Chinese black porcelain originating from Jianyang, Fujian province.
The Jian Zhan Tea Cup is the pinnacle of black porcelain, and it saw its rise during the Song Dynasty. The particular style of pottery was deeply studied amongst Japanese potters for use during Japanese tea ceremonies — chanoyu. The style came to be referred to as Tenmoku in Japan.
When drinking tea from Jianzhan teacup, the temperature of the brew will stay pleasantly warm for a long time, yet without burning you. While you sip the tea, watch the colors of the glaze gently play and intermingle with the tea. The dark yet vibrant colors of the iron-rich glaze will unite, forming beautiful blues, gold, and other magical colors.
Furthermore, the qualities of the teacup soften the water, making it more alkaline, smooth, and flowing. When comparing the water side by side with a regular porcelain teacup, the difference doesn't go unnoticed. The precious aroma of the tea becomes more evident.
A Jianzhan teacup is known for its simple shape, yet heaviness and sturdiness, which feels very pleasant in the hands. The style is characterized by the subtle effects in the glazes, which can only be achieved with a high-iron glaze and high firing temperatures, using special kilns. These patterns are characterized as follows: rabbit's hair, oil drop, and partridge feathers.
While in China the Jianzhan style slowly gave way to Yixing ware, it continued flourishing in Japan, where it became a national treasure.
The most regarded style of Jian teaware is known as Yohen Tenmoku. Sometimes referred to as "oil drops" in English. There are only three original Yohen Tenmoku tea bowls in existence and it has been the most difficult style to replicate by modern day potters. We are excited to have met a potter who was able to perfect this ancient style of pottery.
It is said of Yohen Tenmoku tea bowls that it is like holding the cosmos in your hands. Indeed, each oil drop is iridescent, with the rainbow colors playing around in the holder's hands. Examining the tea cup is like looking up at the Milky Way or the Northern Lights. Drinking tea out of a Yohen Tenmoku glazed teacup is an irreplaceable experience.
Nowadays, there are but a few artists who are trying to revive the original Jian tea cup making in China.
One such pottery artist is Chan Hoi Kong (Brian). Kong was born in Hong Kong. Under the influence of his grandfather, from a young age, he has been into a wide range of Chinese art and pottery. Kong stayed in the Wuyi Mountains for 9 months studying the special iron-rich clay exclusive to the area.
After acquiring techniques from many old craftsmen and hundreds of experiments later, Kong developed his three signature patterns using the un-altered traditional minerals and forming contemporary-looking Jian tea wares.
Building an appropriate kiln is only a part of the struggles that Jian Zhan potters face. Only with the right kiln can the glaze run so beautifully, creating the iconic patterns of this pottery style, and thickening at the bottom of the tea cup's foot.
The clay used for Jian pottery is very high in iron and requires a very high temperature for firing. Kilns used for firing this style of teaware are not easy to make and thus are incredibly precious.
In the Song Dynasty's "The Record of Tea" it was said about Jian Zhan:
"Tea is of light color and looks best in black cups. The cups made at Jianyang are bluish-black in color, marked like the fur of a hare. Being of rather thick fabric they retain the heat, so that when once warmed through they cool very slowly, and they are additionally valued on this account. None of the cups produced at other places can rival these.
NOTE: This teacup is handmade. It makes each teacup truly unique and one of a kind.
NOTE: Avoid using detergents when cleaning.