“To teapot lovers, there is always one teapot lacking”, a teapot collector friend said to me. Whether this is his own experience or he had heard the saying from his “teapot friends”, it is probably a true experience.
Perhaps everyone who loves the “violet sand” type of teapot from Yi-Xing, a city in Jiang-Su Province in China, owns many of them, regardless whether they were obtained for a collection, for simple appreciation, or out of care (like a pet lover cares for pets). Many teapot lovers feel that there is always another teapot better and more beautiful or enjoyable, or more worthy of collecting that they should have. So, they try to find that missing piece. Even if they see a favorite teapot and dream about it day and night, swearing that this will be the last one to get, after owning it for awhile, although they still like it, they will be looking for yet another “always lacking” teapot.
Most likely every teapot lover has had such experiences. The desire to find a better one can be quite strong. That is why teapot lovers do not have much to chat about with those who try to persuade them not to buy so many teapots. It is like the old saying, “The worm in the summer shall not talk about ice of the winter”. Even for those who simply enjoy tea drinking, very rarely do they own only one teapot, not to mention when the teapot has been cherished for a long time and has become gracefully shiny and elegant and the tea made in it gives a delicate taste. In cases like this, it is really difficult for one to quit adding another teapot to their collection.
However, there are different ways of collecting teapots for collectors and for tea lovers. Some of them search incessantly. As soon as they see something they like, they will purchase it. The quantity of their collections keeps growing. Others, after having accumulated teapots of good quality, will look for better quality candidates—“better” either in brand name, the texture of the material, or the style of the teapot. In other words, they seek on a higher level in quality. Among teapot friends, some make progress in both aspects—quantity and quality. There are others, who collect all kinds of teapots, good and not-so-good, seeing the collecting process as a witness to their journey in life. Further still, there are those whose tastes change over time and their selection of teapots becomes more refined, and although the number of teapots they own is reduced, the level of quality increases. They let go of the part of the collections that is not in the “premium” rank.
These various ways of collecting teapots are not for discriminating the “superior” or the “inferior”. It is merely a matter of individual preference or taste. In terms of caring for teapots and one’s type of collection, perhaps I belong to the latter group. Having obtained better teapots more refined in quality, I usually give the rest to others. Actually, all through the course of collecting, my attitude is like this. Collecting is just a hobby, and giving away teapots from my collection is “supporting” other teapot lovers. When there are opportunities to get “better” ones, of course one would want to collect them. But do not pursue them obsessively. Just have the eyes leisurely open. This is another way of seeking that “always missing” piece.
Over time, the size of my teapot collection has dropped. Maybe one day, after reaching a certain point, there will be only a few high quality ones in my collection, and I even care whether they are likable or not, knowing that teapots are simply for making tea. If a teapot is not for making tea, can it be called a teapot?
Regardless of the value or quality, teapots must be useful for tea-making. All my teapots are more or less for the sake of caretaking….
(Published in the book 《The Stubborn Rock Nodding Its Head》 in “Chan of Tea” series by Publisher “Legend of Tea” in 2005)