Silver tray proves ancient Chinese practice of adding salt to tea
This elaborate gilded silver salt tray was used to store salt and pepper for tea drinkers in the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
Ancient people in the Tang Dynasty liked to add spices to tea, such as salt and pepper. Tea drinking then was also accompanied by various other condiments, such as orange peel and ginger. Therefore, utensils were needed to store and hold these seasonings.
This gilded silver salt tray unearthed from the Famen Temple is one such utensil used for holding salt and pepper. The fish-dragon pattern on the tray lid was a popular decorative motif during the Tang Dynasty, which is believed to be an adaptation of the Makara, a Hindu water monster.
The historical artifact provides insights into the tea culture of the Tang Dynasty and highlights the importance of condiments in tea preparation. It also reflects the craftsmanship and artistic aesthetics of the time.