Tea Technique: The Books

About the Site

teatechnique.org is the online publication of "An Introduction to the Art & Science of Chinese Tea Ceremony", a multi-part web-book series by Jason M. Cohen.

Jason hiking up the tea mountain in Korea

My interest in tea began circa 2008, while attempting to study political science in Kunming; while my original intended objective remained elusive, tea was an intriguing topic equally as elusive though much less risky – and I began a new course of study in pu’er. Broadening my horizons, I lived on Makaibari tea plantation (Darjeeling, India) for the 2009 Spring-harvest season and learned to process tea in both modern and traditional methods. Always a touch obsessive, I then founded an interdisciplinary tea research institute, The Tea Institute at Penn State, which I ran from 2009 – 2016.

The idea for this book arose from my experience teaching students at the Institute – there was (and still is) a lack of accurate textural knowledge about Chinese tea, wares, and theory in English (and Chinese). While the book was first mentioned on my personal blog in 2012, I didn’t start writing until COVID-19 caused lockdown and quarantine restrictions around the world; that winter, I went from traveling over 200,000 (qualified) miles on Delta alone (for my other job as CEO of a small tech company), to spending quite a bit of time in my personal tea room. The first book was written and published entirely during the pandemic; the second book is currently undergoing editing with chapters published bi-weekly.

This website hosts the most up-to-date canonical version of each book in the series. The first book On Theory, Meta Theory, and Culture was finished on December 16th 2021; the second book in the series, Yixing Teapots - Knowledge, Connoisseurship, and Technique, began publication on June 2nd, 2022 and is expected to complete in mid-2023.  


Tradition and Lineage

Tea Technique and the series, An Introduction to the Art & Science of Chinese Tea Ceremony, are written in the literati gentlemen-scholar tradition. The viewpoint of all chapters strives for rational interpretation, historical accuracy, and contemporary application.

While I have the upmost respect for the spiritual path of tea (and have extensively practiced various forms of Buddhism), and while some chapters discuss the religious history of Neo-Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism in China, the spiritual path is not my path.

The goal of my particular tradition of Chinese Tea Ceremony is to brew good tea. The contents of Tea Technique covers the techniques of brewing, the identification and understanding of specific teas, and analysis on the contemporary cultural anthropology and sociology of upper level GongFu tea practice.


Why Members-Only?

Membership confers access to to the books and discussion of each chapter below. Further benefits are detailed here: Why Subscribe?.

Why Subscribe Now?

While the first book is fully published and the second book has chapters published bi-weekly, the discussions, debates, and updates continue; practitioners will learn and contribute more by engaging with the author, contributors, and other subscribers.  


BOOK 0 - An Introduction to the Art & Science of Chinese Tea Ceremony: Author's Foreword

Overview

My mea culpa and a required definition in defense of the word "ceremony".

Table of Contents

  1. Dear Reader - [open access]

  2. Ceremony: A Working Definition - [open access]

BOOK 1 - An Introduction to the Art & Science of Chinese Tea Ceremony: On Theory, Meta Theory, and Culture

Overview

The first book in the series analyzes the historical antecedents of our contemporary praxis and the challenges practitioners face in progressing the future of Chinese Tea Ceremony.  

Table of Contents

  1. Levels of Practice
  2. The Primacy of Perception in the Propagation of Praxes

  3. Aesthetic Experience and Aesthetic Context
  4. The Future of Chinese Tea Ceremony
  5. A Bourdieu’dian Analysis for the Construction of an Education in Tea - [no content]
  6. Wealth and Knowledge in contemporary Chinese Tea Ceremony - [no content]
  7. Historical Scholastic Disinterest
  8. Why is Phenomenism important?

  9. Simulacrum and the Road to Hell - [no content]
  10. Immanentize the Eschaton

  11. The Future of Tea Ceremony Redux


BOOK 2 - An Introduction to the Art & Science of Chinese Tea Ceremony: Yixing Teapots - Knowledge, Connoisseurship, and Technique

Overview

The second book in the series places Yixing teapots into a historical, cultural, and functional framework of knowledge focusing on connoisseurship and applied technique for Chinese Tea.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface - What I Know - [Open Access]

  2. Introduction to Yixing Teapots - [Open Access]

  3. Myths and Complications

  4. An Abbreviated History of Yixing Teapots - [No Content]
  5. An Introduction to the Production of Clay Ceramics - [Open Access]
  6. Yixing Zisha Ore
  7. The Mines of Yixing
    • The Three Strata of Yixing Ore
    • The Historical Mines of Yixing
    • Communist and Contemporary Era Mines of Yixing

  8. Specific Yixing Ore and Zisha Clay
    • Zini (紫泥)
      • Tian Qing Ni (天青泥)
      • Di Cao Qing (底槽清)
      • Zini and Qing Shui Ni (清水泥)
      • F1 Classification
      • Zini Ores by Mining Areas
    • Hong Ni (红泥)
    • Zhuni (朱泥)
    • Luni (绿泥)
    • Duanni (段泥)
    • Other Zisha Clays
      • Tiao Sha (调砂)
      • Wu Ni (乌泥)
    • Blended Ore Clay
    • Comparison of Zisha Clay Composition

  9. From Yixing Ore to Zisha Clay
    • Grain Size of Zisha Clay and Resulting Characteristics

  10. Construction of Yixing Teapots
    • Overview
    • Yixing Teapot Construction before Yixing Factory 1
    • Yixing Teapot Construction during Yixing Factory 1
    • Yixing Teapot Construction after Yixing Factory 1
    • Historical Experiments in Construction
      • Slip Casting Yixing Clay

  11. Firing of Zisha Clay
    • Overview
    • Mature Firing of Zisha Clay
    • Dragon Kilns
    • Downdraft Kilns
    • Tunnel Kilns
    • Electric Kilns
    • Reduction Firing - Wu Hui "black" Yixing (焐灰)

  12. Properties of Fired Zisha Material
    • Material Science of Ceramics
    • Effects of Multiple Firing on Zisha Clay
    • Characterization of Zisha Clay Interaction and Effect on Tea
    • Comparison of Antique versus Contemporary Zisha Clay Material

  13. Flaws in Zisha Clay
    • Black Vomiting (吐黑)
    • Magnetism and Black Coring (黑骨)
    • Burried Zisha (土沁)
    • Yao Bian (窑变)
    • Over-fired (Vitrified) Zisha Clay

  14. Standard Historical Designs of Yixing Teapots
    • Real Teapot, Fake Teapot: Real Replicas and Fake Forgeries
    • Ming Dynasty Yixing Teapot Designs
    • Qing Dynasty Yixing Teapot Designs
    • Republic of China Yixing Teapot Designs
    • Yixing Factory #1 (F1) Teapot Designs
      • [in editing]

  15. Unique Historical Designs of Yixing Teapots
    • [In Editing]

  16. Contemporary Designs of Yixing Teapots
    • Yixing Ceramic Artist Certifications
    • Reflexive Stagnation
    • Unique Contemporary Experimentation in Yixing
      • [In Editing]
    • Chops of Yixing

  17. Identification & Verification of Yixing Teapots
    • Verification as a Process
    • Identifying Attributes and Attribute Identification
    • Communicability of Identification as a form of Verification
    • Collector Myths and Merchant "Verification"
    • Chops and Verification
    • Size and Shape
    • The Masters Hand
    • Anonymous Craftsmen and Identification
    • Conclusions of Verification

  18. Brewing Theory
    • Utilitarian Prerequisites for Yixing Teapots in Chinese Tea Ceremony
      • Laminar Flow
      • The Teapot Effect
    • Structural-Functionalist Prerequisites for Yixing Teapots in Chinese Tea Ceremony
    • Pairing Yixing and Tea
    • The Phenomenology of Pairing

  19. Afterword