A Look into the 2nd Hand Markets
Tai Chung, Taiwan
Chinese Porcelain Tea Ware
After learning a tremendous amount from my experience at Vesper Chan’s tea shop in Guang Zhou about tea wares, I was hooked—maybe even addicted. There is somewhat of an adrenaline rush when learning about and finding real antiques, and holding a thousand-year-old art form in the palm of your hand. One encounter with this and you will be hooked too!
In Taichung there is always the possibility of finding treasures, and I thought I had a pretty good idea about what to look for, so I went hunting. Since antique tea ware could take a lifetime to learn, I stuck to what I knew and followed these simple rules:
First, don’t ask about how old a piece is or even worry about it, unless you plan on seriously collecting. The information you get can rarely be trusted, and if the piece is of good quality, you like it, and its worth the price to you, then get it! This is similar to my thoughts on puer—ignore the hype, buy what gives you the most enjoyment, pay what its worth to you. As you drink more, you will learn more, your tastes and appreciation will change and deepen, and you will get better and better tea. So too with tea ware—the more you find and the more you learn, the better your purchases will be, so relax and have fun!
I will say, however, that when you find a real antique that has hundreds of years of history locked up in each brushstroke, you will feel it. That might sound strange, but its true! A real art piece will stir up something inside of you, and its an addicting feeling!
After browsing for a few days in Taiwan I finally came across some nice cups similar to the blue under-glaze porcelain in Vesper Chan’s shop. It was a small Malaysian merchant who set up shop in Taichung. His first prices were high, but I haggled for a while and told him about how much I love tea, and somehow got him down to a much lower price, so I grabbed 16 cups and paid the money. He asked me never to return, because I was too good at haggling!
It turns out that many of the high-end dealers are from Singapore and Malaysia. In China, when the cultural revolution destroyed so many exquisite pieces, a large quantity was taken to these countries by collectors, and remains to this day. The same is also true for vintage puer cakes. In addition to this, many of the old trading routes for merchant ships went by Malaysia and Singapore, so there are many shipwrecks on the bottom of the sea with crates and crates of ancient tea ware in them!
Because the Chinese empire was so huge, rare antiques and ancient treasures can still be found to this day, if you know what to look for and where to look. And strangely, in some cases it is cheaper to buy an older high-quality porcelain than it is to buy the same quality that’s new, because cost of labor is so much higher now and there are less skilled artisans today.
If you are going to buy high-end tea ware and know a bit about it, try your hand in the second hand markets! If you have mastered the art of luck, you might just find something you never thought you could!
First look at the 2nd hand markets in Tai Chung, Taiwan
Ultra Thin Old Porcelain
Browsing all the merchants
Many Fakes, but real is fake and fake is real
My finds at the markets
Typical 1970′s style Tea Ware (Gold, Dragon & Phoenix)