I picked up this tea set made of red clay during our recent visit to Stockholm over the Easter period.
I found it in a Chinese general store, on sale for 300 Swedish Crowns ($36.70 US, £25.46 GB, €32.44).
What I was mainly after was a Chá chuán (茶船), or “tea boat”. This usually comprises of a clay bowl topped by a removable plate for a teapot to stand on with a series of drainage holes in it that allows water to drain down into the bowl.
This is particularly useful when making Pu-erh, as many tea lovers pour extra boiling water over the outside of the pot to ensure that the temperature of the pot remains constantly high when brewing the tea.
This more often than not utilizes much more water than would normally be spilled when decanting and serving tea on a wooden tea table, and so many people use a tea boat as a supplement to their tea table, to deal with the excess water from the teapot alone.
The set that I found not only had a tea boat, but also a gaiwan, 6 small teacups which are glazed on the inside surface, a small teapot, and a tea serving pitcher (cha hai/gong dao bei).
For that price you are, of course, not going to get hand made Yixing clay teaware. This is clearly slip cast.
The teapot is a little on the small side to be practical even for 1 person, and the fit of the lid to the body isn’t the best, meaning that when I did a test pour with cold water it leaked from around the lid.
The general finish of the teapot and the pitcher is a bit on the rough side, it has to be said, but having said that the set was bought mainly for the tea boat, so a nice enough gaiwan and 6 teacups was a bit of a bonus.
I might have been able to have found a better/cheaper tea boat online, but then there would have been the postage/freight involved with quite a heavy object, not to mention the possibility of breakages, always a danger with ceramics, so I was more than happy to fork out what might have been a little extra to have something then rather than waiting a month for a tea boat that might have arrived in several pieces.
All in all a good addition to the teaware collection.