Friday, October 3, 2008

Yixing clay teapot

Yixing clay teapots (also called ''Purple Sand'' are a traditional pots made from Yixing clay and commonly used to brew tea. They originated in China, dating back to the 15th century, and are made from clay produced in the region of the town of Yixing, in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu.


According to literature, the first YiXing teapot was created during the Song Dynasty that a monk from Jinsha Temple in YiXing handcrafted a teapot from local clay, but it did not flourish until Ming Dynasty .

20th century

Yíxīng teapots are not actually made in the regional city of Yíxīng, but rather in nearby Dīngshān, also known as Dingshu, which falls within the administrative area of Yixing. Hundreds of teapot shops line the edges of the town's crowded streets and it is a popular tourist destination for many Chinese. While Dīngshān is home to dozens of ceramics factories, Yíxīng Zǐshā Factory Number 1, which opened in 1958, processes a large part of the clay used in the region, produces fine pottery ware, and has a large commercial showroom. In addition to the better known teapots, frescoes, oil and grain jars, flower vases, figurines, glazed tiling, tables, ornamental rocks, and even ornamental garbage bins are all manufactured in the community.

Judging the Quality of Yíxīng

when judging the quality of Yíxīng teapots the following can be done:
*Tap the pots lightly together: the ceramic should make a distinctly metallic sound.
*Look at the fit of the lid into the pot, it should be flush and appear seamless.
*Fill the pot with water, place the lid on, and begin pouring the water. it should pour smoothly
*While pouring, place your finger over the hole on the lid, this action should stop the flow of water immediately and completely if the lid is well fitted.


Prices can vary from US$20 to over US$100 per teapot. The more expensive pots are shaped by hand on a potter’s wheel and fired in kilns. The growing popularity and high demand has lead to some YiXing teapots being mass produced. Lower cost pots may be made with predefined moulds as opposed to a potter’s wheel. All YiXing teapots have the artist's chop on the bottom.

Characteristics and use with tea

Yixing teapots are meant for use with and oolong teas, as well as aged tea. They can also be used for or white tea, but the water must be allowed to cool to around 85 degrees before pouring the water into the pot.

These fine teapots are small by western standards because they are generally designed for a single drinker and the Chinese historically drank the tea directly from the spout. It is somewhat different now by pouring the tea into a cup first.

No comments: