Thursday, December 6, 2012

Small two serving tea set by Jeong Mijin

A couple months ago I attended a tea and ceramic fair at BEXCO in Busan. I never had the plan to attend this event but came across it while attending a biomechanics seminar held at the expo center. I sampled a few teas and kept my eye on teaware as I have hoped to find some Korean made teas and teaware for a while now. I came across a stand which had several small (possible for two cup servings) tea sets which had quite earthy feels to them. Interestingly, compared to other artists, this display was primarily of the smaller size. I asked the artist (Jeong Mijin) if she mostly drank tea alone. She confirmed and smiled. Several weeks after attending I decided to purchase a set from her as she explained most small tea sets she made were 50,000 won. For me, to get my hands on a handmade set that provides tea drinking for that price is great. I asked for photos of tea sets of that price and made my choice accordingly. My choice was the set below. Only seeing this by photo gave a sense of anticipation as I don't remember handling this at the tea fair. Once I received the package I was quite delighted. It appears the box which it came with was hand crafted. Te box is of light wood (not sure the type) and presented with a paint brush image of the Korean peninsula. It appears to only include the southern "half" but to the upper (northern) region provides a branch of blooming flowers. I have interest in inter-Korean relations so my thoughts on this may be skewed. I would appreciate a tea talk time with Ms Jeong to hear her feelings on the image that is painted on the box.
The tea set is quite light in the hand. The handle fits great upon grasping and pours cleanly. There is a clear sense of strength that the set provides which to me is a surprise for how light it feels. The cups have a glossy finish and textured outer surface ( i like this feel against my lips when drinking). After four days of use it appears some dark spotted stains have surfaced. My only thought is that it could be tea oils, however a previous gaiwan that I purchased at a tea shop in Busan presented the same stains but after rinsing with hot water have never surfaced again. A bulk of the stains colonized at the bottom surface around the artist's name print. Thinking of leaving the stains, however sometimes they can create a mess if watered spills on the set from pouring.