Fair cup on a tea plate. Photo by Li Hong
Chinese people regard tea as a "gentleman in drinking", because in the eyes of Chinese people, tea is viable, clear, elegant, and German. Because of this, tea has been loved by Chinese people since ancient times. Over time, it has also formed a tea culture with rich connotations and different etiquette systems. And the culture is not only reflected in the tea itself, the same is true of the tea set, the fair cup is a good embodiment.
The fair cup has been around since the Ming Dynasty, but it was not used as a tea set, but as a wine set. The fair cup for tea art was introduced to the mainland by Taiwan, China in the 1970s. The fair cup used as a tea set is different from what was passed down in ancient times. What remains unchanged is the rich and unique connotation in the cup.
In Western Han Dai Sheng's "Book of Rites · Li Yun", it is mentioned that the world is public. It expresses an ideal society of Datong, the world is everyone's world, for everyone to share. The ideal of a fair and fair Datong society is what the Chinese people have been pursuing, and such ideas are also reflected in people's lives. Literary works, dramas, and even a tea set can reflect the idea of "justice", which is exactly what the fair cup is.
The fair cup, in the name of fairness, naturally also means fairness. Anyone who has made tea knows that no matter whether it is using a bowl or a teapot to make tea, the soup will always make a difference in the strength of the soup because of the time difference. In order to make the tea soup even, people pour the brewed tea into a fair cup, neutralize the tea soup and then pour it out, so that tea drinkers can drink tea soup with the same concentration. Neutralization and post-consideration are exactly in line with the Confucian ideas of "neutralization for use" and "harmony". The Fair Cup is the carrier and embodiment of the "harmony" thought. Of course, this approach is the most fair and does not deserve justice.
To trace the history of the Fair Cup, during the Ming Dynasty, county officials ordered the local porcelain craftsman to create the "Kowloon Cup" in order to please Zhu Yuanzhang. The glass is extremely delicate, and the wine can only be flat and not overfilled. It will leak when full, leaving no drop. However, the emperor did not know why, and at the banquet, he deliberately took care of his favorite courtiers, and filled the courtier's wine glass with wine, which turned out to be counterproductive. This gave Zhu Yuanzhang the enlightenment of "administering ministers for the monarch, being fair, and not partial." Later, Zhu Yuanzhang's "Kowloon Cup" was renamed as "The Fair Cup", implying the fairness of the cup. At the same time, this allusion also contains the truth that "the contented can survive, the greedy can run out of water", reminding the world that people should pay attention to justice in the world, and not be greedy.
Looking at the present, the fair cup used for tea art is similar to the open teapot without a mouth, but some changes have been made in the opening to make the soup cup easier to pour tea. Cups are usually made of transparent glass. On the one hand, transparent cups can better observe the color of soup; on the other hand, only transparency can best embody the meaning of fairness, justice and selflessness.
One tea, one world, one pot, one world. China has a long history of tea culture, even if it is just a fair cup, the connotation is endless and endless.