Friday, April 1, 2011

Section 22. About the Tea Caddy

"The tea is put into a large container made of pewter. When it is all used up more is added."

Those who do not have a copy of Korean Tea Classics do please follow along and participate by referencing a different English translation available here from The Leaf.

This tea classic will be covered one section a week which will go on for 24 weeks. Feel free to jump in with your commentary at anytime.



Anonymous said...

when it is all used up

So it seems that it is unadvisable to refill a caddy before its being totally empty.
Yet, one could refill it with the same tea (and putting at the top what remained). Maybe it is not good because older leaves may disrupt the quality of the newly added leaves…

If another kind of tea is used, the text does not mention a possible cleaning of the caddy.

Matt said...

Julien ELIE,

The leaves at the bottom of the caddy are usually some of the most compromised leaves often stems, damaged leaves, and tea dust. If you add these on top of fresh leaves they are small enough to settle back through the new leaves thereby compromising the quality of the fresh tea.

"All used up" signifies that even the compromised tea leaves and dust at the bottom of the caddy should be consumed before adding fresh tea to the caddy. Not wasting even the lowest quality tea leaves is a way of showing reverence to the tea as well as cultivating modesty.


Matt said...


Notes on section 22,

This section on the tea caddy is interesting because it is actually found in all of the Chinese texts but is not included in any of the Korea versions (including the ones written in Classical Chinese). There is a reason though.

During the Choson Dynasty (1392-1897), the implements used for making tea changed- Koreans no longer used any metal in their tea setups. Even in the present day, Koreans prefer the use of ceramic tea caddies all others are infrequently used imports from China and Japan. The reasons for excluding this section is as follows...

Firstly, metal was relatively expensive back then especially compared to inexpensive clay. Secondly, those who understood the deep nature of tea knew that the Metal element strongly controls the Wood element of which tea is comprised. It was thought that a pewter tea caddy, made of metal, actually degrades the essence of the tea stored in it. Thirdly, they were quite out of fashion at the time. So it made absolutely no sense to include a section on teaware that was not used or maybe even unavailable in Korea at the time.


Rebekah said...

For all its delicacy, it's a pleasure to see tea, like many of the best things in life, surviving varieties in knowledge, theory, brewing, and even storage containers -- the balance between working out the right/best way for oneself and also being aware of all the wild multiplicities. Pewter, wow.