Site Information

 Loading... Please wait...

Tea Bits

Ru Ware – The Rarest Song Ceramic

Posted by Selina Law on

Finches and Bamboo, MetMuseum
Finches and Bamboo, Emperor Huizong (Chinese, 1082–1135; r. 1100–25), Early 12th century

Song dynasty (960-1279) saw a growth in agriculture, technology, trade and craftwork in China. It was the time when Chinese used gunpowder to produce the world’s first firearms, the movable clayblock printing was invented, and as China had advanced to a credit-based currency the world’s first paper money was introduced. In addition, due to China’s sophisticated ocean transportation system, trade flourished. The much sought-after Chinese silks and ceramics were shipped as far as the Middle East and the eastern coast of Africa. Tea drinking during this period became more popular than alcohol consumption and caused a surge in the production of tea vessels.

The booming Song economy enabled a rich and varied cultural life and the rose of a thriving urban class. Luxury ceramics were in demand. The value of a Song ceramic is first based on the kiln in which it was originally made. The most precious and highly valued objects come from one of five kilns — Ru, Guan, Ge, Ding or Jun. Production in these kilns was heavily monitored. There were very strict regulations for who could possess or use these wares; imperfect pieces were destroyed to keep them from ever being circulated. Of the products from these five famous kilns, Ru ware is the rarest.

Ru ware’s invention is said to be inspired by a dream of Emperor Huizong, an incompetent ruler but highly accomplished calligrapher and painter (see painting at the top of this article). One night the emperor saw in his sleep a mystical shade of blue through a rift in the clouds after a downpour. On waking up, he wrote about this scene in a poem and instructed his potters to make porcelains of the color as described. The order had craftsmen across the land scratching their heads. Samples trickled in, but all were turned down by the monarch, until Ru kiln in the Henan province produced the desired grayish blue glaze resembling the sky after rain .

Another hallmark of Ru ware is the crazing, fine lines or cracks on the glaze layer. Small crackle patterns on the glaze were described as “crab’s claw” or “ice crackle."

Owing to the short period of production and great difficulty in firing, only a small number of Ru ceramics have been preserved today. Available statistics reveal that intact Ru ware in private or public (such as museum) collections around the world total fewer than 100 pieces. We very rarely see any of these pieces on the market. Needless to say, when we do, such pieces usually auction for many millions of dollars.


An Important and Extremely Rare Ru ‘Sky-blue’ Tea Bowl
Northern Song Dynasty, Late 11th-Early 12th Century 
Sold at Christie's-HK in 2018 for over USD7 millions

Well, maybe very few of us can spend millions of dollars on a Song Ru tea bowl or plate, but we can still appreciate the uniqueness of these fine ceramics and own a version of them thanks to many contemporary potteries that apply the Ru ware technology in creating their products.


I am pleased to introduce here this adorable tea set that was handmade with much care and thoughtfulness, a beautiful tribute to the sophisticated Ru ware technology.

Ru ware style tea setRu ware style tea setRu ware style tea set

Tea Drunk

When we hear the word “drunk”, we usually associate it with people being in a compromised mental and physical state due to the effect of excessive alcohol consumption. Dictionaries define the adjective “drunk” as “affected by alcohol to the extent of losing control of one’s faculties or behavior.” Seldom do we associate intoxication with tea, but it is actually not uncommon [...]

Read More »


Ginger – “To peel, or not to peel?”

Ginger is a root that is widely used in not just cuisines around the world but also in many ancient medicinal practices. It has a variety of benefits from bringing relief to sore throat and cold and cough to treating nausea and morning sickness in pregnant women. It is said that Henry VIII used a ginger concoction in hopes of battling [...]

Read More »


Tulsi - Holy Basil

It may not be everyone’s tradition or belief system to pray to a Holy Basil plant every morning to ensure good health and well-being of his/her family, but this “Queen of the Herbs” from India carries many health benefits that most everybody can surely appreciate. Holy Basil is a cousin of the more common sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum). Called Tulsi [...]

Read More »


Tea in the Great Outdoors

Picnic is almost synonymous with summer. It is a favorite way to spend a summertime meal. People have been eating outdoor for thousands of years. The origin on the word picnic is believed to be French—piquenique—which represents visiting friends with food and drinks. At these piqueniques, the attendees would all bring food to the occasion, similar to what we call [...]

Read More »


Smart Tea Choices for Hot Summer Days

“Hot tea on hot summer days?!” There have been scientific studies showing that drinking hot beverages triggers our body’s natural cooling system—sweating, and the evaporation of this sweat helps modulate body temperature and maintain heat balance. However, others argued that the amount of heat lost by sweating and evaporation will never exceed the amount of heat gained by the hot [...]

Read More »


​The Delicate Relationship Between Tea And Prostate Health

Prostate health is a major concern in men. As a man ages, his prostate gland tends to become enlarged, causing pressure on parts of the urinary tract such as the urethra and bladder. As a result, he may experience urinary frequency combined with an inability to fully empty his bladder. A chronically enlarged prostate can also lead to incontinence, pain [...]

Read More »


Teas That are Good for Women

Last month we talked about when women should restrain from drinking too much true tea (camellia sinensis). This month, let’s talk about a few teas that are beneficial to a woman’s health.Rose & Wolfberry Tea[Ingredients: Dried Rose Buds or Petals 5g, a small handful of Wolfberries, Rock Sugar to taste]Roses are known for improving blood circulation and regulating the function of [...]

Read More »


When Women Shouldn't Drink Tea

Many people drink tea (true and/or herbal) for its health benefits. However, to fully benefit from tea’s health properties, we need to drink the right tea at the right time. For women, there are four occasions in which drinking (true) tea* may not be suitable at all:1. During the Menstrual PeriodDuring this time the female body is losing a lot of [...]

Read More »


What’s the Fuss about Teas Harvested in Spring?

If you have been exploring the tea world for a while, you’d very likely have come across the terms “Spring Tea” and “Ming Qian Cha.” Teas harvested in spring have long been viewed as the jewels of tea. They are highly sought after and can be very expensive. “Ming Qian Cha” is also referred to as “Pre-Qingming* Tea.” This term [...]

Read More »