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Why we choose yixing teapot

19 Jul

Yixings grow in value with continued usage. As long as you pour your initial cup of tea over the pot, then brew one to drink, the pot will form a glossy exterior and gain its value. If you’re going to get one, you might as well get something that will make the growing worth while. I think of these things like little pet rocks. An yixing teapot is something you’re going to invest a lot of time in raising. You’re investing your time into this thing: at the very least, it’ll hold your favorite flavors to give back to you. At best, it’ll hold memories of time spent with friends, loved ones- moments of your life.

zhu ni clay yixing teapot, raising...

Yixings are made with a purple sand clay, and this clay absorbs the tea flavours, seasoning the pot with prolonged usage. Hence, Yixings are recommended for use with only one tea.

Semi-handmade yixing teapot fit well just as a brewing vessel

19 Jul

Most inexpensive (but authentic) yixing are semi-handmade, with facilitation of molding tools (but very different from the mold used for slip cast). By American standards and compared with a lot of other commodities, I think this semi-handmade method is more than qualified for “handmade”. But in yixing world, the real handmade ones are those made with sculpting standards and without facilitation of molding tools. Most yixing in the market are semi-handmade, and handmade ones, even by unknown craftsman, could easily get above $250 in Chinese market, and a few times more in western market. If you use yixing teapot as a brewing vessel instead of collecting it as a sculpture work, semi-handmade is good enough. So the inexpensive and authentic options for you I can think is our yixing teapot web shop, because till now most of our yixing teapots are semi-handmade.

Above is our shop, two of them are my relative, they are all making yixing teapot by plaster molding tools. Some of yixing teapots sale in our web shop is make by them.

Yixing teapot history

18 Jul
Yixing of Jiangsu Province, China, is the homeland of chinese pottery.
 

The zisha pottery of Yixing is known for its elegant form, elaborate craftsmanship, archaic colour and functional performance. Coming initially from in Northern Song Empire(960-1279), Yixing zisha teapot has past hundreds of years from Song to Yuan and finally ageing in early Ming Empire. Within the Ming Empire(1368-1644), Yixing teapot be a necessity in teahouses and peasant families, and was sought after through the upper classes. They’re considered luxuries for that high authorities of court and royal homes.
Evaluating the zisha yixing teapot along with other artistic representations for example music and painting, we noted the concepts their enjoyment aren’t much in difference. To get the connoisseurship of zisha teapot is straight forward with someone but hard to others. Connoisseurship of zisha yixing teapot must germinate from an enjoyment from it. One needs to create a passion for zisha teapot before it’s possible to go much deeper and much deeper into the field of teapot and comprehend the true zisha pottery and it is material qualities, chemical composition, molecular structure along with the yixing teapot’s colours, form, decoration means, artistic styles, master potters etc. Only in so doing may improve a person’s connoisseurship and progressively establish design for a person’s collection. No connoisseurship can be done with no substantial collection. You ought to remember that it’s quality that counts not quantity when growing an accumulation of Yixing zisha teapots.

How to choose a yi xing teapot 1

18 Jul
ceramic teapotLet’s go on to talk about teapot, let me just say that most seasoned tea drinkers have at least 3 or 4 yi xing teapotsof different shapes and sizes. I am not saying you need a few teapots to be a serious tea drinker. It’s just that in order to make the best out of your tea leaves in different settings, you need to use different teapots.
 
Getting back to the topic, let’s first talk about size. Teapots come in sizes/volume from 1 gongfu teacup to about 1 liter. The ones used to make

small yixing teapot

Chinese tea typically aren’t bigger than 500mL, like the ones used in Chinese restaurants. Big yi xing teapots of this size usually cannot make very good tea. (There are exceptions when steeping aged fermented tea like Pu’er). In gongfu tea, the right teapot size depends on the number of cups of tea to make in each steep. The yi xing teapot should be just big enough to make the number of cups needed. The reason here is that a teapot too small will not produce enough tea in one steep. A teapot too big will produce more tea than you need, which results in waste if you pour the excess away or you "destroy" your tea leaves by oversteeping if you leave the excess in the teapot. (In traditional gongfu tea we pour straight from the teapot to the cup, so there is no other pot to collect the tea from the teapot).
Another aspect here is that most tea expand when steeped and take up space, reducing the available water volume. How much the tea expands depends on the type of tea and the amount of tea leaves you use. Tea like Gunpowder and Tie Guan Yin expand more, while dragon well and Pu’erh don’t expand much. If you like to make strong tea, you also need a slightly larger teapot because the more tea you use, the less room there is for water in the teapot. Okay I need some tea now. I’ll be back for Part 2.

How to choose a yi xing teapot 2

18 Jul
I talked about choosing the right size of yi xing teapot in previous. This article, let’s look into the types of yi xing teapots to choose. Using the right type of teapot is crucial to brewing a good cup of tea.
Yi xing teapot (zisha teapot,purple clay teapot), is the traditional gongfu teapot. It is THE teapot I recommend for brewing most tea. Here’s why: The clay used to make Yi xing teapot is very unique. It’s slower in conducting heat and has good permissibility.
A good yi xing teapot is capable of concentrating the heat from the hot water into steeping/brewing the tea leaves. It is also very durable because its good permissibility prevents it from cracking. A yi xing teapot that is used everyday doesn’t need to be washed/scrubbed. All it takes is a quick rinse with boiling water before use and it’s ready for action. Yi xing teapot lets you bring the best out of your tea. But a good one now demands quite a premium.
Flat teapots have wider bottom which work well for spreading the dry tea leaves out and preventing "soaping" of tea leaves inbetween steeps. Having a wide bottom (Shi piaostyle or Xu bianstyle) to spread out dry tea leaves allows the leaves to expand evenly during steeping. Better expanded tea leaves release more flavor, producing better liquor.
duo qiu(drop ball) yixing teapot with round bottomshi piao yi xing teapot with flat bottomxu bian yi xing teapot with flat body

Yixing teapot general knowledge – holes of spout

18 Jul
Type of yixing teapot’s spout holes is an import way for distinguish the date it made, there are three type of spout:
1. Single hole is popular in Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty.
single-hole-yixing-teapot
2. Sincere the end of Qing dynasty, most of yixing teapot’s spout is mesh style, can be 6,7,9,10…..holes.
flat-mesh-hole-spout-yixing-teapot
3. In 1970s, in order to meet the needs of exporting yixing teapot to japan, people started to produce a number of half ball mesh, so that water outflow more fluent and better filter the tea leaves.
 
Now, some XiaoPin(capacity <150ml) zhu ni yixing teapot’s spout is single holes, there are two reasons:
The teapot size is too small that mesh style spout will impact the outflow water fluent.
Zhu ni XiaoPin is so hard to make that mesh style spout is even more hard to make, so keep it sinle hole, save the time and save the work.

Simple way to deal with the yi xing teapot initial use

18 Jul
My previous blog introduced a formal way for yi xing teapot initail use, but it cost long time. In fact it is not a must procedure to follow when you don’t have much time, so whatever…better than never, there is also simple way for the yi xing teapot initial use:
1. Fill your yi xing teapot with newly boiled water and allow the water to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain the water.
2. Fill the teapot a second time with newly boiled water and add one teaspoon of your favorite loose tealeaves. Allow this tea to sit for a period of 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Drain the tea, your new yi xing teapot is ready for use!
Tips: In order to season a perfect yi xing teapot, and get a well taste of your tea soup, remember only use one type of tea for that yi xing teapot.

Yi xing teapot initial use

18 Jul
One cultured way if you have time to do it:
1)place the teapot with the lid uncovered, carefully place the pieces onto a cook ware which should be large enough to hold the water and be able to cover the entire teapot.
yixing teapot initial use step1
2)Place some bean curd in the water and bring to a slow boil, since rapid boiling may damage your teapot since the pieces may possibly be hitting each other or hitting the walls in your cook ware.
yixing teapot initial use step2
 
3)slow boil for about an hour, let your teapot cool down in the cook ware with tea water still covering the entire teapot, let it stand for a day or so,
yixing teapot initial use step3
4)the next day you can take the teapot out and rub off any purple sand residue inside of your teapot, rinse well with water only, place the teapot back into the cook ware with sugarcane and bring it to a slow boil again for around an hour or so. Let it cool down in your cook ware still covering with the tea water again,
yixing teapot initial use step4-1yixing teapot initial use step4-2
5)the next day you may take out your teapot and rinse it well with hot water. After this process, the air holes in your teapot are opened up and is ready for use.
yixing teapot initial use prepare finished
 
With continued use, the purple clay from which YiXing teapots are made will absorb the flavors of your tea, becoming more seasoned with each use. Over time, the color, flavor, and aroma of your tea will develop a richness that is unique to each teapot. For this reason, Many people dedicate a specific flavor of tea or at least a specific type of tea to each YiXing teapot.
yixing teapot new&seasoned comparison
There is also a simple way for faster initial using

How to identify an authentic yixing teapot

18 Jul
First of all, look at yixing teapot’s color. For a new yixing teapot, although real zisha clay (purple clay) teapots have many colors, it is not bright, but a dim light. If the color is too bright and glare, it is likely not made by authentic yixing raw ore. For some zisha teapot which already used a  while, there should be mild light, but the same will not be dazzling color. If your zisha teapot used a long time but the color won’t change, then it most likely a fake clay yixing teapot.
fake yixing teapot 2
Above is the fake yixing teapot
authentic yixing teapot
Second, smell the odor. New zisha teapot generally smells only dust and HuoQi(火气), in short it’s the smell of natural clay burnt by fire, no other smell. If you buy a new yixing teapot smell like the chemical, or other pungent odor,  it is likely a fake clay yixing teapot. The authentic yixing teapot after used a while, will emit a faint tea aroma. Bellow are the yi xing teapots just from kiln, sillica sand on it.
yixing teapot just fired, take from kilnyixing teapot just fired, take from kiln
Third, listen to the yixing teapot’s sound. With the lid on the spout gently across, if it is an authentic yixing teapot, sonorous voice should be such as jade-like, crisp, and have a clear sense of sandy friction.
sound grain of yixing teapot
Fourth, touch the surface of yixing teapot. The surface of a new yixing teapot is not smooth, hand feels there should be sand grain texture. If the surface feels very slippery, it would be polished with wax, or not the authentic zisha clay.
 
Fifth, see water in the surface of yi xing teapot. The authentic yixing clay teapot, cause of zisha clay characteristics and pore characteristics of finished yixing teapots, to the surface in an open water washout, should be able to form a water film, commonly known as "hanging the water(挂水)", the surface of the water film should be very uniform, and can quickly dry. When you’re using open water washout, the surface was like drops of water spread out, rather than hang evenly on the surface of the water film, it is likely not authentic clay or surface after handling chemical.
yixing teapot hold the water
Sixth, put yixing teapot in boiling water. The authentic yixing clay teapot has natural color, do not add any chemical dyes. If put it into boiling water, the color of teapot surface fades, the water color varies widely, then the pot is a fake, at least add other chemicals.
yi xing teapot in boiling water
The points above, also applies to the identification of all yixing clay pots. Based on the points above, can’t 100% identify that a pot of clay used in fake, but if meet more than two of points above, then you’d better not to use it.
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