Thursday, May 26, 2016

Meet My Tea Gear: Thriftstore Edition

Welp, my appointment yesterday was...nothing really, the doctor was at a total loss at what to do with me so he ordered testing, yay. I get to have an ultrasound on my heart and wear a monitor for 21 days, which will be interesting, well that is assuming my insurance thinks that it is a medical necessity to get these tests done. I am trying to not let it get me down, but I am a bit frustrated that I have to wait at least a month before I can get any relief at all. Sigh. But on a positive note, I believe my kettle drama is finally settled, I am hilariously sticking with Hamilton Beach since it seems to be the only kettle that has the exact features I want and I am getting a hot pot for longer sessions, it is not a Zojirushi, but I am ok with that since I wanted a stainless steel pot rather than a teflon one. Speaking of teaware, today I am going to do a 'Meet My Tea Gear' post since it has been way too long since I did that, this time I am focusing on things I have found while thrifting!

First up, this cup, it is clearly artisan made and has become a favorite of mine. The combination of earthy and blue tone colors and the gentle spiral inside the cup for some reason reminds me summer. It has a great heft to it as well, which is great for tea in the morning when I am groggy and want something less delicate to sip from.

So I found a gaiwan at a thriftstore, something I honestly never expected to happen after the one I found in Charleston, and that was not even a normal thriftstore. This lovely blue gaiwan is not the typical cobalt and white, instead it ghostly pale blue with surprisingly not Asian looking flowers. It kinda looks a bit retro. I have no idea what company made this (their logo is a panda) and it blissfully has no seam lines on the printing, giving it a hand-painted look.

The next piece has a bit of battle damage, it has seen some stuff and lived to tell the tale. It is so worn and well loved that the piece stumps me, it could be fairly new and beat up...or it could be fairly old. The almost unreadable and super tiny maker's mark does not help with research, and sadly looking for various iterations of clay kyusu with cranes and Mt Fuji has led me nowhere. Is this a Tokoname pot?  No idea, what it is though is gorgeous and one of my favorite tiny clay pots, though I would give so much to know its history!

I have an uncanny knack for finding clay pots at my local thriftstore, I say clay because I cannot say with 100% certainty that they are Yixing and not just purple clay from some other part of China (or Japan), I do know that they are unglazed and show up with a strange regularity. One expects to find one, maybe, I have brought home six. Granted I have left a few at the store because they were just abysmal quality or had a massive crack. This one is the only of my clay pots to feature the color blue, which I love! It is a bit on the big size, so I primarily use it when Ben and I are in the mood to split a pot of Moonlight, which is what this pot was seasoned for. It is odd, I find in my tea habits I prefer teapots that are more simplistic in design, but I do love pulling out the ornate pieces when I am sharing tea.

This is the Coelacanth cup, technically the fish on it is an arowana (which might win the award for the grumpiest looking freshwater fish) but to me it really looks like my favorite prehistoric fish that still exists. This little beauty comes from Japan and still had the original yen price tag on it when I found it, which was pretty neat. I find this cup works best for teas with a strong mineral note since it is a cup that adds a mineral quality, sadly this means it is not useful for trying a tea for the first time, but it still gets a decent amount of use.

You know what is gorgeous? Kutani ware! I have spent many hours trolling around on ebay looking at Kutani pieces, they are usually ornate and full of classic Japanese art and symbolic motifs, and if you are lucky has a poem written on or in the case of this cup, in it. Sadly I have been really slack and have not translated this poem, though one day I am sure I will get around to it. The art of the elderly couple looking at a crane reminds me of the story Tsuru no Ongaeshi.

Another really neat piece of Japanese porcelain, vintage Lithophane, a technique where the shape of the porcelain makes it look like a picture when it is held up to light. During the 30s-60s these were made primarily for export and can take on a variety of designs. This set (with has a matching pitcher and came with another cup and saucer set that my mom now owns) was made by Kutani (I really do love them, I also have a sake set that I use for Gongfucha and had a beautiful cup that my cats destroyed, I snatch up Kutani whenever I can) The real hilarious part about this cup was the night before I found them I was chatting with my mom about how I wanted a piece!

This teapot I have never actually used, I bought it entirely for the nostalgia factor. When I was a wee thing living in Atlanta and my grandparents living in Augusta, I spent many weeks at their house, it was a second home to me and I loved it there. In my room was this very teapot, well, not this specific one, but one identical to it. My mom now has that teapot and I have this one, to remind me of many happy childhood memories. Also I never use it because it would be a nightmare to clean the tea leaves out!

The last piece I am going to ramble about might be one of my favorites...ever...and it is certainly the oldest confirmed piece. I say confirmed because I have a suspicion that the tiny blue gaiwan I found in Charleston might be older but I am not positive. This is a Tongzhi era cup, putting it in the range of 1862-74, and as an avid history buff, this makes me squee with joy. It is cracked (like so many of my pieces are) and old, and there is something incredibly enjoyable about drinking tea from a cup that old, I find myself wondering on the stories it could tell. That is the reason I constantly hunt antique and vintage teaware, I could care less for its value financially, but to me the stories of the pieces are worth a fortune.


  1. oh I love the last piece, incredible that it's 150 years old and still giving joy to someone. that's awesome. @mfs3168

  2. I'm always amazed by your thrift store finds! It's like they know you'll give them a good home :)

    I've been on the hunt for an affordable but well done piece of lithophane teaware for a while. Yours is a really nice one.

    1. I will definitely keep an eye out for you and if I find one I will have to send it your way :)