There is little doubt this handsome bowl was intended for the drinking of tea. During the Song dynasty there was great enthusiasm for tea drinking and tea parties became the vogue. At these parties contests were devised for the preparation of so-called 'whipped tea', which was whisked to produce a white froth on the top. Since the winner was the person whose froth lasted the longest, having a dark-glazed bowl whose color showed off the froth to advantage was soon regarded as desirable.
A similar russet-glazed conical bowl in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is illustrated in The Charles B. Hoyt Collection, Boston, 1952, p. 81, no. 320. Two Cizhou-type conical bowls, but with russet-splashed black glazes, are in the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University, and are illustrated by R. Mowry, Hare's Fur, Tortoiseshell and Partridge Feathers, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 1996, p. 141, no. 37a and b. Russet-glazed conical bowls are also found in other wares, such as the russet-glazed Ding bowl illustrated ibid., p. 107, no. 14.