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Gaeunyo - Interview with a korean tea pottery master

On Saturday, 11th April, we had a privilege to run a Live Stream on Instagram with our special guest, Mr Pak Yeon Tae, known as Gaeunyo, tea pottery master from Korea.


[Photo above]: Buncheong Teapot and Chawan with Sgraffito Peony Design by Gaeunyo

The interview we had with him was very informative and as we wanted to keep this knowledge and spread it, we decided to write down this short synopsis in a form of questions and answers.


Lucas: What does a typical Korean teaset consist of?

Mr Pak: Typically, a Korean teaset consist of a teapot, a water-cooling bowl called sugu, teacups with coasters, a teapot lid holder and a wastewater bowl. Optionally, there might also be a tea canister (also ceramic) used at very formal and ceremonial occasions. 

Tea in Korea is usually kept in airtight containers as it mostly is green tea, prone to losing its aroma.

L: Do you drink tea as well and how do oyu choose your tea?

P: He tends to drink Chinese oolong tea most of the time. When he chooses the tea to drink, he usually tends to put more attention to the effect of tea on the body, the correlations between different kinds of tea and times of day, seasons, the weather etc.


[Photo above]: Buncheong Teacups by Gaeunyo

L: Are Korean potters also tea drinkers?

P: Most of them are now. This trend started around 20 years ago, that Korean potters started drinking tea and started learning the Way of Tea as well. The reason to this is very simple: if they want to create good tea ceramics, they also need to know and drink tea. 

L: Does the shape of the tea vessel influence the taste?

P: Mr Park says that to him the material which the vessel is made of is more important. The way the material reacts with tea, if it is thick or thin, the kind of minerals the clay contains is far more essential when it comes to the taste of tea.


L: How long does it take to fire ceramics in a traditional wood fired kiln?

P: Wood Firing is a time consuming process. First, the ceramics need to be created and collected, for the kilns are usually big (some of them have several chambers) and need to be filled as much as possible. Then the ceramics need to be put inside of the kiln in such a way that they will get fired correctly, this can usually take up a whole day. The firing takes two to three days, after which the kiln needs to cool down for additional three days before it may be opened safely. And this is just the first, initial firing. Then it is time to put on the first layer of glazing and the whole process must be repeated, and the same with the final firing. This is why Mr Pak only performs firing two or three times a year.


[Photo above]: Buncheong Chawan by Gaeunyo

L: What relationship do young generations of artists have with the traditional kilns?

P: They are full of new ideas and often try to follow the newest trends. Although the traditional kilns have only been used to produce traditional types of ceramics, the younger generations want to experiment with new designs and techniques. Our modern world and the consumer society requires artist to always offer something new and fresh.


We will arrange more such conversations in the future to give you the opportunity to learn with us and experience this one of a kind meeting.