Lesson Plan IV Kara Tea Culture

Lesson Plan IV Kara Tea Culture

By Caitlyn Young

Visual Arts Teacher at Dwight-Englewood School, Englewood, NJ

Target Grade Levels: 10th-12th grade


Tea is an important part of the Korean culture, and it is said that the green tea from Korea's volcanic island of Jeju is some of the best green tea you can find. Tea consumption expanded from China to Korea in the 6th century and it is believed that tea was first used in Korea as Buddhist offerings during ancestral worship. Korean tea bowls are often acknowledged by scholars as the finest tea bowls in the world. They are praised for their unadorned, modest beauty. Because of shifts in focuses and beliefs during different eras, the tradition of tea in Korea has diminished at times. In more modern times, there has been a revival in the tradition of Korean tea and its consumption is once again a central part of the culture.

Tea was a customary part of our experience as we traveled across Korea. In Gwangju, we participated in a traditional tea ceremony at the cultural school. At Songgwangsa Templestay, the monks served us evening tea as we sat on the floor learning about Buddhism. As part of our stay on Jeju, we visited Ossuloc Tea Museum where they display a visual history of the Korean tea ware through artifacts throughout centuries of Korean history. As a ceramics teacher and artist, I was drawn to the historic documentation of a simple yet lovely form of the tea bowl and the textures and glazes. I chose to create a lesson that combines the study and creation of a Korean style tea bowl with the participation and use of these tea bowls in a traditional Korean tea ceremony.


To develop in students an understanding of Korean tea culture, through the crafting of a Korean inspired tea bowl, and participation in a traditional Korean tea ceremony using their own hand built tea bowls.

Terms and Concepts:

Cha(tea), Cha geuleus(tea bowl), Darye(tea ceremony), potter's wheel, throwing, centering, hump technique, foot, greenware, kiln, bisque fire, glaze, glaze fire, Annyeonghaseyo(hello), Kamsahabnida(thank you)


This lesson will introduce students to the tea culture of Korea, the history of Korean tea bowls, and the traditional Korean tea ceremony. As part of the introductory lesson, images from the exhibit at the Ossuloc Tea Museum will be used to show the transitions of the tea bowl and pottery throughout history. Students will be assigned to research and select an example of a Korean tea bowl that will personally inspire the glazing for their own tea bowl. Students will be shown several short videos of Korean potters creating works on the wheel and clay being molded into the traditional tea bowl form. These videos include a short video made by the instructor while in a private studio lesson in Seoul.

In the working studio, the instructor will demonstrate on the potter's wheel how to throw a tea bowl using the hump technique shown in the videos. Students will work one on one with the instructor to create their own tea bowl on the wheel. While each student's tea bowl will have some variation, the goals are to be reflective of the form of Korean tea bowls. The work will be refined with clay tools and a foot established on the base. The instructor will review traditional glazing techniques, and after the bisque firing, each student will select glaze color combinations inspired by the Korean tea bowl they have researched. The lesson will conclude with the class using their own tea bowls to participate in a traditional Korean tea ceremony, ideally led by a parent or volunteer from the community. Throughout the lesson, students will learn and practice the Korean words for tea, tea bowl, tea ceremony, hello, and thank you, which they will be encouraged to use in the tea ceremony.

Video References:

Jeju Island Osulloc Tea Museum

South Korean potter working on a hump mold

Mungyeong International Chasabal Festival Throwing Competition